Hot War!

A shrinking pie will exacerbate conflict inside and between countries, including nuclear-armed powers. As extreme weather phenomenons amplify, political conflicts will arise over resources scarcity and territorial control. The conditions under which many people live will drastically deteriorate leading to major instabilities.

It’s no surprise to anyone that a ‘shrinking pie’ will encourage conflict inside and between countries – including nuclear powers. As extreme weather phenomenons increase, political conflicts will arise over scarce resources and territorial control1.

The conditions under which many people live will drastically deteriorate, leading to significant instabilities. Many of the regions at the highest risk from climate change are in politically unstable countries that already experience high levels of conflict2. Dwindling resources, food shocks, and droughts can all contribute to civil unrest, which in turn increase the chances of major protests, civil war and regime changes. Many conflicts of the last decade, especially in West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, were influenced by changing climate34.

Regional and internal conflicts have the potential to spread internationally. Political instability will threaten international agreements and the world’s ability to deal with the global threat of climate change5. The US Department of Defense has predicted that climate change will heighten global conflicts and considers more than half of their military bases at risk because of it6.

Climate change represents a dramatic threat to world peace. Naturally, the potential of increased tension between political powers with nuclear weapons is a cause for alarm. At a time when the world needs to work together to fight climate change, that very same threat may drive nations further apart and endanger us all. How we respond now will determine how peaceful the world will be for future generations.


  1. US Department of Defense, July 2015, Response to Congressional Inquiry on National Security Implications of Climate-Related Risks and a Changing Climate, Congressional report. ↩︎

  2. Institute for Economics & Peace, June 2019, Global Peace Index 2019: Measuring Peace in a Complex World, Sydney, p.43. ↩︎

  3. Bollfrass & Shaver, 2015, The Effects of Temperature on Political Violence: Global Evidence at the Subnational Level, PLOS ONE 10(5):e0123505. ↩︎

  4. Gleick, 2014, Water, drought, climate change, and conflict in Syria, Weather, Climate, and Society 6(3):331-340. ↩︎

  5. Mach et al., 2019, Climate as a risk factor for armed conflict, Nature 571:193–197. ↩︎

  6. Crawford, 12 Jun 2019, Pentagon Fuel Use, Climate Change, and the Costs of War, Watson Institute of Public International Affairs. ↩︎