Protest and Climate change link: does the weather cause civil unrest?
There’s an increase in climate change and protest. But what drives these protests and gives them such power?
A new, impulsive climate change policy emerged in the U.S. under the Trump administration. It pledged to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which was signed by nearly every other country on Earth. Therefore, people worry where our planet is going.
It’s not just the world of science that needs to worry about this either. Because, the rise of social unrest and protest is often attributed to climate change.
Protest and climate change – a security nexus?
More and more people link climate change with social unrest and protest. Because climate change is a long-term problem it could present an enduring security threat to organisations.
How strong is the link?
Many people link protest and climate change. But it’s not clear it is driving political violence and protest. Conclusions that climate change is triggering violent conflict cannot be generalized.
Don’t jump to conclusions
Nature‘s editorial ‘Don’t jump to conclusions about climate change and civil conflict’ highlights how researchers focus on areas of violence, rather than climate impact. As a result, it’s possible the link is overstated.
Moreover, because research focuses on countries easy to study (good transport links, common language etc.), research is bias.
For example, Insulate Britain receives huge media coverage. However, it’s active in London, where there’s great transport links and a language common to most researchers.
We can safely conclude:
- Many of the countries most vulnerable to climate change are already steeped in conflict. Therefore, they’re less able to deal with changes in the climate.
- Climate change does not cause conflict. However, it makes existing social, economic and environmental factors worse.
What are the social, economic and environmental factors that cause conflict?
- Youth unemployment
- Education and literacy (more educated and literate people are more politically active).
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