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Nils Petter Gleditsch on "Climate Change: A Threat to the Waning of War?"

Lunchtime Colloquium

12.02.2015 12:00  – 14:00 

Location: Rachel Carson Center, Leopoldstr. 11a, 4th Floor Conference Room

War remains a major threat to human security. However, despite many recent dramatic events, war is on the wane as a tool in human affairs. The number of ongoing armed conflicts, the lethality of war as measured by annual deaths per battle, and the incidence of genocide and politicide and other forms of one-sided violence are all declining. Scholars have outlined various possible challenges to the continued waning of war. One of them is climate change, which is widely believed to wreak havoc not just to the economy but also to the security of the planet. However, the evidence base for such beliefs is precarious. Scholars have failed to agree on any robust relationship between climate change and conflict. And the most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on the consequences of climate change, does not provide a clear basis for alarmist predictions. Armed violence continues to present an urgent problem, as is seen notably in several ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. But research indicates that economic and political factors trump climatic ones in generating violence, and this is where countermeasures to violence should be focused. With regard to the effects of climate change, insecurity about a range of possible outcomes is probably a greater problem than any specific threat such as increased armed conflict.

Nils Petter Gleditsch is a research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO) and professor emeritus at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim. He served as president of the International Studies Association in 2008–09 and edited Journal of Peace Research (1977–78, 1983–2010). His current research interests are on the decline of war and on the security implications of environmental change.

The Lunchtime Colloquium is free and open to the public.

Snacks are served at 12:00; the lecture starts at 12:30.

For more information on the Lunchtime Colloquium series, please click here.