Whether climate change can stoke political violence and civil conflict is a critical and controversial question. Differences in methodological traditions (qualitative vs. quantitative) are often blamed for academic infighting over this question. This brief suggests that the real problem lies with an impoverished understanding of the process of climate change, particularly how social and ecological systems interact, and how changes in either propagate through the other and generate feedbacks. By presenting a dynamic understanding of the climate-conflict equation, this brief presents a mechanism-based analytical framework that can be used to study the complex phenomenon across diverse social settings. It illustrates the approach by tracing mechanisms through which climate change is fueling protests by farmers in Pakistan, and suggesting other potential applications.
School Authors: Zafar Imran