climate change

Climate change will speed up the depletion of natural resources 

Water pollution and scarcity has become a dangerous challenge in Afghanistan. Photo credit: Kate Holt / IRIN.

By Anders Lorenzen

New research is warning that natural resources are depleting faster than normal due to climate change.

The research was released last week in the report ‘Ecological Threat Register’ published by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) think-tank. The report states that a vicious cycle links the depletion of natural resources with escalating violent conflict in several parts of the world both of which is exacerbated by climate change. Crucial factors such as food security, lack of water, the impact of natural disasters and high population growth are stoking conflict and displacing people in vulnerable areas.

System collapse

IEP used data from the United Nations (UN) and other sources in order to predict the countries and regions most at risk. According to Serge Stroobant, IEP Director for Europe, the Middle East and North Africa said the report identified 30 ‘hotspot’ countries home to 1.26 billion people which are facing the most risk based on three criteria related to the scarcity of resources, and five criteria focused on disasters including floods, droughts and rising temperatures.

Commenting on the research, Stroobants said: “We don’t even need climate change to see potential system collapse, just the impact of those eight ecological threats can lead to this – of course climate change is reinforcing it.”

The plight of Afghanistan

The country which received the worst score is war-torn Afghanistan; the report states that its ongoing conflicts have damaged its ability to cope with risks to water and food supplies, climate change, as well as alternating floods and ensuing resource degradation.

IEP explains that six seminars attended by governments, military institutions and development groups last year concluded that it is unlikely that the international community will reverse these vicious cycles. One of the places where this is most evident is in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa which has seen conflicts becoming worse over the last decade, IEP said.

The report concludes that with tensions already escalating in the identified parts of the world, it is expected that climate change will have an amplifying impact on many of these issues.

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