Climate change is making armed conflicts worse. Here’s how.


if you have read his work Brave journalists in Mariupol this week you know that the people of that city are trying to survive not only by the bombardment of the Russian forces. They are also trying to live without water.

This is, unfortunately, a recurring feature of warfare.

We witnessed this in Syria in 2016, for example, residents of AleppoBesieged by government forces, the northern city was deprived of running water. The following year, the inhabitants of the capital, Damascus has dried its faucets In the war, both sides accused each other of damaging the water infrastructure.

In 2018, clashes between rival factions destroyed water tanks at a hospital near the city of Hudaydah in Yemen. In 2019, the extremist group Al Shabab blew up a water tank in Somalia.

These are documented in a human cruelty log published this week by an Oakland-based research group called the Pacific Institute. it’s called Water Conflict Chronologyand lists periods throughout human history when access to water triggered unrest or became a weapon of war. Sometimes water sources end up in what the report calls “casualty”: Tankers blow up, wells poisoned.

Climate change can intensify risks. A hotter planet often makes dry places drier and hotter, accelerating competition over an already scarce resource. It’s hard to know how much of a role climate change plays in every conflict, and certainly mismanagement and increased water demand play an equally if not more important role.

However, “climate change is clearly worsening the conditions that contribute to water conflicts: drought, famine and inequalities,” said Peter Gleick, emeritus chairman of the Pacific Institute who has worked on water conflicts for decades.

The study found that water conflicts have increased sharply over the past 20 years. My colleagues have written about many of them. farmers and shepherds Conflicts over access to water are raging in parts of Africa, escalating conflict in an abnormally badly drought-ridden region. anti-government protests exploded in Iran over scarce water. Water sharing divided many of Central Asia’s former Soviet states. Amu Darya River.

Gleick noted that since 2000, a quarter of conflicts triggered by access to water have occurred in three water-scarce regions hit by global warming: the Middle East, South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.

Separately, United Nations University forecast 19 countries with a total population of 500 million in Africa face water insecurity. At the top of this list are three countries no stranger to conflict: Chad, Niger and Somalia. Most countries on the continent face higher levels of risk for extreme weather events, the study adds, adding that climate change is making them more frequent and more severe, outstripping countries’ ability to adapt.

Few places in wealthy countries have felt the effects of climate change on their water supply as sharply as California, the home state of Gleick.

prolonged drought affecting the western United States, likely to continue this springThe National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said on Thursday. As my colleague Maggie Astor reports, most of California return to “severe” or “extreme” drought after a short rest during the winter. In central California, the nation’s fruit and nut basket, Maggie reported that the three-year rainfall total is “likely to be the lowest since modern records began in 1922.”


A big investment in fossil fuels: Challenging President Biden’s clean energy goals, the Tennessee Valley Authority plans to spend billions of dollars. gas-fired power plants.

Is Russian oil still flowing? Ukrainian authorities have warned that tanker ships, including numerous tankers chartered by US-based companies, Continue to transport oil from Russian ports.

A call to save energy: As a global crisis approaches, the International Energy Agency has appealed to countries. to promote protection.

Activists flex their political power: Environmental groups want elected leaders to confront oil companies over high gas prices. A little Democrats seem to be listening.

The meaning of the war for electric cars: The price of nickel, an essential component in most batteries, Fears Russian supply could be cut.

In search of endurance: More than a century after it sank in Antarctic waters, Ernest Shackleton’s ship was found. only days left.


The Ituna-Itatá reserve in Brazil is a brutal example of the recalcitrant forces destroying the Amazon. It was supposed to serve two purposes: slowing deforestation through broad restrictions on logging, farming, and mining while simultaneously protecting Indigenous cultures. Instead, since the election of President Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, one of the country’s most occupied Indigenous areas.


Thank you for reading. We’ll be back on Tuesday.

Claire O’Neill and Douglas Alteen contributed to Climate Forward.

Contact us climateforward@nytimes.com. We read every message and reply to many!



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