New Challenges due to Globalization and Climate Change
continued from » Winners and Losers
Political geography is getting new research issues due to climate change and globalization.
These issues include military and control architecture on a global scale, geopolitics combining culture and religion (war on terror after 9/11, etc.) as well as resource conflicts due to globalization and climate change.
By the way, to get an understanding of geopolitics or political geography, it’s to mention that this section of geography was very important during and before the world wars (especially World War Two) as well as during the Cold War. The issues from those days included geographical regional science (mapping) as well as control and balance after World War Two.
According to Kaplan, “It’s time to understand ‘the environment’ for what it is: the national security issue of the early twenty-first century”.
In the past, there have been many conflicts or wars because of resources; for instance, in Afghanistan (gems, opium), in Angola (oil, diamonds), in the Congo (oil, diamonds, gold, copper, coltan, cobalt), in the Sudan (oil, water and land), etc.
The richness of resources makes a country a victim: “resource curse” and “paradox of the plenties” are two expressions used by scientists. The “resource curse” leads to failing states (for instance due to informal violence, corruption, etc.). Wartime economies have a great vogue in these failing states.
There are several types of wartime economies depending on the location of resources and the type of resources:
If resources are close to the capital (good location for military to invade) and the resources are spatially limited (for instance an oil field), conflicts like coup or an external invention are most common (for example in Congo-Brazzaville).
If resources are close to the capital (good location for military to invade) and the resources are spatially diffuse (for instance a jungle), rural or agrarian rebellions are most common (for example in Kenya – landowning conflicts).
If resources are at location that are hard to reach (like regions close to borders) and the resources are spatially limited (for instance an oil field), secessions are most common (for example in the Sudan, in Biafra, etc.).
If resources are at location that are hard to reach (like regions close to borders) and the resources are spatially diffuse (for instance a jungle), warlordism and local wartime economies are most common (for example in the Congo, in Angola, in Liberia, etc.).
The resource curse isn’t the reason for wars but it is the reason for wars to last longer and be on war faster.
What does have climate change to do with resource conflicts?
According to Ban Ki Moon (UN Secretary General):
“The majority of the United Nations’ work still focuses on preventing and ending conflict, but the danger posed by war to all of humanity and to our planet is at least matched by the climate crisis and global warming … [the effects of climate change are] likely to become a major driver of war and conflict”. (March 1st, 2007)
Conflicts because of food, access to drinkable water, hazards (like storms and floods beside other disasters) are most likely to increase.
Global change lead to environmental scarcity meaning renewable resources (for example forests, acreage and fresh water) will decrease. The reasons for environmental scarcity are exploitation and degradation of renewable resources (supply-induced scarcity), population growth (demand-induced scarcity) and socially unbalanced allocation of resources (structural scarcity).
As a result of that poverty, migration, etc. as well as conflicts (resource capture, environmental marginalization) will increase. Resource capture mean that divided use of resources will be a reason for conflicts (for instance between Israel and Palestine (water from Jordan)). Environmental marginalization refers to social anatomy and war (for instance in Ruanda fighting for land).
Risks emerge from a combination of environmental and developing problems so that the “hot-spots” are in the global south.