Could a changing climate be driving new conflicts around the globe?
That was the question posed by internationally recognized research professor Halvard Buhaug, who came to the University of Nevada, Reno Tuesday to discuss the effects of climate change on violent conflict with university students.
Buhaug, a research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, took a critical look at the correlation between climate change and war in his talk, which was followed by a question and answer session.
According to Buhaug, this topic is one that he feels extremely passionate about so his research on this has been extensive.
“This subject is one that just twists my heart, so I am very happy to be here today to share my findings,” Buhaug said.
Buhaug is an internationally recognized authority on the political, environmental, and geographical aspects of war and conflict. Buhaug is considered to be at the center of an ongoing academic debate regarding the rise of violent conflict with changing weather patterns.
In recent years, climate change has been an increasingly important topic for many as its effects become more apparent. According to a study from Yale, around 61 percent of Americans feel that climate change is important to them, while 69 percent of people would support laws that would help preserve the climate.
As climate change becomes an increasing concern and conversation topic in political and scientific spheres, Buhaug has found his research centering the topics of global warming and weather patterns. More specifically, Buhaug has conducted numerous research projects in the past about the link between war and global warming.
Buhaug’s presentation was broken into three primary sections: short-term climatic anomalies increase of conflict, the conditions in which water scarcity induce cooperation, and the link between political violence and agriculture production. Buhaug included a portion at the end about the crisis in Syria and the effects of climate change on Syria.
Buhaug’s presentation provided a conversation about a rising issue that many are discussing, and he said he was unsure whether or not the rise of global temperatures produced cause for war and vice-versa. Even so, he said he wanted to provide students with facts to make their own conclusions.
As Buhaug is part of the team of three scholars who will be conducting the next assessment for the IPCC, university student Kaden Connor asked what the priorities were for the team and how they planned on improving the next report.
According to Buhaug, there is a large amount of uncertainty over the outcome of the next assessment report.
“The short answer to that would be I don’t know,” Buhaug said. “We haven’t had our official meeting yet and I don’t know what to expect from these meetings. However, I do honestly believe that we want to assess the availability of the research already done and improve upon it.”
Olivia Ali can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush