International Security Studies Essay Example

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Focusing on terrorist groups such as Islamic State is a distraction. Climate change represents a greater long-term threat to humanity. Discuss


Terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State have dominated the news headlines since 2013, and their impact on the socioeconomic and political environment is still felt. Both groups among others have gained international notoriety because of the approaches and strategies it implements including posing new challenges for international, regional and national security. The same emergency can be attributed to climate change where it continues to become difficult to determine the weather/climate and the negatives of climate change to the environment. Droughts, hurricanes, and flooding are an example of consequences of changing the climate. Climate change and terrorism have similarities and sometimes complement each other. The links between climate change and terrorism are not simple or linear in nature. The changing climate change and impacts to the society does not directly contribute to conflict and fragility rather it employs a multiplier effect. The aim of the paper is to illustrate that focusing on terrorist groups such as Islamic State and Boko Haram is a distraction rather climate change represents a long-term threat to humanity.

Role of Climate Change on Security

The changing dynamics of the society leads to local resource competition. The pressure on natural resources continues to increase while competition leads to increased instability and may contribute to violent conflict (Wheeler and Joachim 2013). In addition, dispute resolution may not be effective depending on the dynamics on the ground fostering the terrorism ideologies (Maiangwa and Ufo 2012). Therefore, conflicts in the society are numerous, but the common ones are access to natural resources such as water and pasture. Pastoralists and farmers continuously fight because of access to the natural resources and where the farmer’s farm (De Stefano et al. 2012). Farmers farm near the water bodies whereby the pastoralist animals come to drink water. These competitions for the natural resources may worsen creating a favorable environment for a recruit to join terrorism and insurgent groups.

In most parts of the world, livelihood insecurity and migration has a major impact on overall requirements to the community and society (De Stefano et al. 2012). Changes in climate increase human security since many people depend on natural resources to advance their lifestyles (Theisen 2013). Developing countries such as Chad and Nigeria relies on agriculture especially the lower social class population (Tonwe and Surulola 2013). Changes in climate and socioeconomic variables push the people to migrate and engage in more illegal and informal sources of income. The movement of people means the movement of cultural uniqueness and the motivating factors may contribute to terrorist activities (De Stefano et al. 2012). A single individual with terrorist aims can convince the society and community to engage in armed conflict or radicalize the community. Therefore, the migration due to climate change means that radicals/radicalized individuals can radicalize other people in the society and community.

The disasters and extreme weather events worsen the fragility challenges resulting in increasing populace’s grievances and vulnerability, especially in situations that the conflict has affected the most (Tir and Douglas 2012). De Stefano et al. (2012) states that the community and society become vulnerable because the youths are provided alternative sources of income. For example, an individual cannot continue staying without work when he sees his family is suffering or starving. The solution to such an individual is to enter and engage with any grouping that provides an alternative source of income Shindell et al. 2012. These sources may include been recruited into insurgent groups or persuaded to support the insurgent ideologies. It means the extreme weather conditions such as flooding provide a fertile environment for the requirement and cementing the ideology of joining the insurgent group.

Climate change may contribute to increased food prices and provisions. The climate change contributes to disruption of food production in numerous areas creating market vitality and an increase in prices, while also heightening the risk of civil conflict, rioting, and protests (Shindell et al. 2012). When the people see the cost of food increases, the people engages in criminal or civil complaints. However, Shindell et al. 2012 state that the problem occurs when the concerns are not addressed at the right time. The civil conflict, riots, and protests may extend to other areas meaning implementation of security measures become a challenge. Tai, Maria and Colette 2014 further state the response from the security agencies may be “brutal” or aggressive in nature. It means the original complaint of food prices results in the development of other ideas, which results in conflicts and supporting the views of the insurgent groups. Moreover, the insurgent groups may use the prices issues to their advantage, worsening the security variables.

Climate change may contribute to trans-boundary water management. Water usually flows across boundaries and the management of the water may be a source of tension (Maiangwa and Ufo 2012). The increasing population increase demand and climatic changes affect the quality and availability leading to competition over water usage (Tai, Maria and Colette 2014). Trying to address these problems result in increasing pressures on the existing governance structures. Ineffectiveness in addressing the problem may create regional armies to protect the resources. In the beginning, it may be seen as a simple thing but with time, the situation worsens, and the insurgent armies start controlling the location. The inter-boundaries conflicts may worsen and create an environment in which the ideologies of the people are changed towards supporting the armed conflict. However, if the political class addresses the problem in advance, the potential of the problem decreases meaning addressing complaints promptly is crucial.

The climate change contributes to ice melting and rises above sea level and also the degradation of coastal areas (Bernauer and Tobias 2012). The rising sea levels mean that the viability of low-lying areas is not predicted and problems can occur (Maiangwa and Ufo 2012). The low-lying areas may be submerged, which may contribute to social disruption, migration (Gleick 2014). Social disruption and migration results in diversion of views and frustrations. The rising sea level means that the people are unable to fulfill the requirements of their livelihood, and are persuaded to join any group or organization that provides alternative sources of income. Brainwashing and ideological change can be linked to the societal changes. Hence, the rising sea level is directly linked to climate change, and it is important to address the climate change to reduce changes of social disruption and migration.

The changing sea levels may contribute to maritime boundaries disagreements and also create additional challenges when it comes to utilization of ocean resources (Tonwe and Surulola 2013). The changing climate may force the institutions to formulate and implement climate policies. However, the potential of unintended effects, which creates security, related challenges. Mitigation and adaption policies on climate change may be broadly implemented increasing the risks of negative effects that increases. Some areas may accept the policies, but fragile context areas may be affected more meaning the potential of security complications increases.

Climate change does not create the terrorists or contribute to terrorist behaviors but creates conditions favorable for terrorism/terrorist behaviors. The climate change means the lifeline of the society changes while the people continue to seek for alternative sources of income. The climate change creates a conducive environment in which insurgent groups can recruit people while the conflicts between different parties such as farmers, fishers, and pastoralists in fighting for the merge reasons contributes to worsening of the situation. Hence, climate change is a major issue compared to terrorism.

Climate Change and Terrorism Activities / Case Studies

  • Climate Change and Boko Haram

In the region such as Cameroon, Chad, Nigeria, Niger, which are around Lake Chad converge numerous stressors and multiple crises. The region is faced with numerous challenges such as violent conflict, economic hardship, depleting resources and unemployment (Maiangwa and Ufo 2012). Apart from these challenges, the region also experiences climate change such as shrinking of Lake Chad and prolonged severe drought (Hendrix and Idean 2012). The scarce resources meant that tensions increased between the fishers, farmers and the pastoralists.

The decreased level of Lake Chad due to climate changes meant that the availability of quality of fresh water decreased, which reduced depletion of grazing land, loss of vegetation and reduced fish stocks. The erratic rainfalls and flooding affected production and erode the lands. Food security became a major problem to the populace meaning that it contributed to migration (Maiangwa and Ufo 2012). The migration also caused additional challenges and problems whereby migration was common throughout (Meierding 2013). Water scarcity and land degradation and migration lead to social tensions and violent intergroup conflict. Conflicts have increased between the farmers, fishers and the pastoralists leading to armed confrontations (Tonwe and Surulola 2013). These confrontations contribute to fragility and instability, which results in favorable conditions for terrorist activities. Boko Haram can easily recruit and mobilize support resulting in committing of criminal activities (Osumah 2013). Unemployment, socio-economic problems offers the Boko Haram to communicate their ideologies, which easily resonates with the population. In addition, due to the tensions in the area including political alienation and marginalization controlled to the rise of terrorists.

  • Climate Change and ISIS (Syria)

Climate change has impacted Syria and has facilitated the rise of ISIS in numerous ways. The conflict in Syria is attributed to numerous things including unemployment, urbanization, sectarian grievances, water resource mismanagement, population growth, urbanization weather events, and government failure (Kfir 2015). The weakness and fragility of the Assad regime contributed to the emergence of terrorist organizations such as Al-Nusra and ISIS. In addition, ISIS benefited from the drought indicated water scarcity that resulted in the locals losing their employment opportunities and sources of income and recruitment might ISIS provided a conducive economic perspective. Moreover, ISIS continued to control water and provided the water to the local population, which gained support from the local populations (Stansfield 2014). Due to the power of water, ISIS has converted water into a weapon through using water against the civilians and other armed actors.

The analysis indicates that climate change that induced the drought strengthened the position of ISIS and other similar bodies would emerge to counter the influence of ISIS (Gleditsch 2012). It means climate change continues to have a negative impact on the environment and society (Hashim 2014). Furthermore, ISIS continuous approach of inflicting damage to the environment through using water has a weapon would increase crop losses, damage infrastructure and poisoned water, which are difficult to adapt strengthened the position of ISIS while degrading the life of humans.

  • Climate Change and Taliban (Afghanistan)

The current situation in Afghanistan is a mixture of numerous challenges such as severe environmental degradation, chronic underdevelopment, violent conflict, and fragility. The foreign troops are leaving the country, and attacks from insurgent groups such as Taliban are increasing in addition to the opium industry (Esser 2014). Moreover, conflicts around the natural resource such as water and land worsen the security situation (Scheffran 2012). As the climate change continues, environmental degradation, natural disasters, water scarcity and drought will increase resulting in more conflicts and risks. Instability of the region feeds to numerous activities such as environmental degradation resulting in spiraling fragility.

The region also faces advancing desertification and the continuous conflicts between the pastoralists and nomads over access to natural resources components the fragility while the insurgent groups cement their positions. In addition, the absence of enough water creates food security, which is a substantial risk (Shroder 2012). Other climate related factors such as water management systems, weak infrastructure, lower levels of rainfall, increasing evapotranspiration, and rising temperate feed to insecurity. The armed and insurgents access more vulnerable population, which they recruit. Therefore, without an effective framework to counter the climate change, the insurgents and Taliban continuous to access hundreds of thousands of people who are ready to enter into criminal and terrorist activities.

  • Conclusion

Focusing on terrorist is appropriate however the contributing factor to terrorism is climate change. Climate change creates the conditions that favor the growth of terrorist organizations such as ISIS, Taliban, and Boko Haram. The climate change contributes to changes in weather patterns reducing in diseases and poor harvests. It also contributes to conflicts among the members of the community such as pastoralists, nomads, farmers, and fishers. These conflicts create an environment that is conducive for recruitment purposes. The losing of livelihoods and unemployment due to climate change increases the need for the local community to seek for alternative sources of income and terrorism becomes favorable. The terrorist organizations such as ISIS use climate products such as water to control the population. The populace is forced to adhere to the ISIS regulations since the ISIS dictates the amount given to the armed and civilians. Without enough amount of water, food security complications are raised, which is a major problem to the society, economic and political system.

It is evident that climate change does not cause terrorism/terrorist activities but creates favorable conditions for these insurgent groups of emerge. It is recommended that climate change should be addressed through creating and implementing different measures for both prevention and mitigation. For the prevention, industries and people have to understand the consequences of climate change and reduce the emission of greenhouse gases and other practices that contribute to climate change (Kahan et al. 2012). A sustainable organization and environment should be encouraged that relies on renewable energy and ensuring emissions are controlled by the industries. For the already affected regions, food is important and creating appropriate infrastructure such as water irrigation can address food security complications. Moreover, continuous awareness and training should be encouraged on highlighting sources and consequences of climate change. These numerous recommendations are aimed at challenging climate change, which translates to reducing the potential of recruitments to insurgent groups.


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