Thursday, March 25, 2010

New Adelphi Book: "Climate Conflict" by Jeff Mazo

Jeff Mazo, Mangaing Editor here at the IISS, has just come out with his new Adelphi Book, Climate Conflict: How Global Warming Threatens Security and what to Do About It.  I had the pleasure to read earlier drafts of this, and I'm pleased to recommend it. 

Jeff takes a historian's view to climate conflicts, which I think is appropriate.  He looks at how changing local and regional climates have affected human history in the past, using Easter Island the Viking settlements on Greenland as examples of how a changing climate can cause a society to fail.  He then brings the argument into the modern day by persuasively saying that Darfur is the first modern climate-change conflict.  Like any conflict, there is a complex array of causes, but he makes a good case that conflict

The book carefully talks about the tenuous relationship between climate change and conflict.  Though its always tempting for us to hype the link between climate change and conflict, as I've written before, the is a danger to overstating the climate security argument.  A key line in the book is:

"Over the long term, changes in water and food availability will be major drivers of insecurity, but in the medium term the trends will be as much a matter of incremental, quantitative change as of qualitative step change.  Increased variability, especially increased frequency and severity of extreme events, will be the most significant factor..."
I would encourage any readers to buy Jeff's book today for the low, low price of 9.99 pounds. 

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