Can Climate Change Increase the Likelihood of State Fragility?
It was concluded that climate change can influence the fragility of a country. The existing academic literature has found that it can be as nuanced as the displacement of people due to drought, flooding, storms, forest fires, and other natural and human-related forces. These scenarios can lead to a large influx of climate refugees into foreign regions that under some circumstances may result in localized conflicts due to competition for resources and/or cultural and ethnic differences. A rapid and persistent change in environmental conditions such as caused by drought has direct consequences for those that rely on the natural resources. A sudden and persistent change in the natural environment can be analogous to how other species may need to migrate in order to survive. Mankind is no exception here, specifically those that are dependent on arable land for farming and have no other means of income or food security. A mass migration can have potentially destabilizing effects on nearby countries and the world due to the interconnectedness of globalization. The case of Syria’s civil war is the most prominent case of how climate change contributed to the violent conflict. A powerful drought outside of natural variability and linked to anthropogenic climate change forced Syrian farmers to abandon their lands and into the outskirts of urban cities in pursuit of work. A strain on resources due to unsustainable water policies also resulted in a classic case of environmental scarcity which further exacerbated the drought crisis. During this time, the Arab Spring protests encouraged revolutionary tendencies in neighboring countries and as a result, also spread to Syria. The displaced farmers added fuel to the unrest in Syria. The underlying themes associated with conflict and unrest, such as mass migration and resource scarcity, are indirectly applied to conclude that a changing climate has the potential to disrupt a stable country and have cascading destabilizing effects internally and to neighboring countries. Statistically significant findings also suggest that there is a high correlation between temperature anomalies and the fragility of a country. However, there is no simple link between climate events and instability. Countries with a relatively poor governance structure are most susceptible to exogenous natural forces due to their assumed low adaptive capacity to deal with natural disasters and/or mitigate their impacts. The correlation of the year to year variations between temperature and the number of displaced persons, which is a driver of state fragility, are weak. But the upward trends of the number of globally displaced persons and temperature are strongly correlated.