This research begins to get at the intersection of climate change and population growth that I am looking at throughout this blog. The study shows that climate change leads to movements of people from rural to urban settings, thus causing overcrowding, which leads to unemployment, political unrest, and even civil war (as in Syria).
Researchers from the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis found that climate change played a significant role in migration, with more severe droughts linked to exacerbating conflict.
The effect of climate on conflicts is particularly relevant to countries in western Asia from 2010-12, such as the so-called Arab Spring, political uprisings which occurred in countries including Tunisia, Libya and Yemen, and Syria, where the conflict led to an ongoing civil war. In Syria particularly, long-running droughts and water shortages caused by climate change resulted in repeated crop failures, with rural families eventually moving to urban areas. This in turn led to overcrowding, unemployment and political unrest, and then civil war. Similar patterns were also found in sub-Saharan Africa in the same time period.