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Climate change and state death

Ker-Lindsay, James (2016) Climate change and state death. Survival, 58 (4). pp. 73-94. ISSN 0039-6338

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Identification Number: 10.1080/00396338.2016.1207952


It is now generally understood that climate change poses a grave threat to international security. Rising temperatures will lead to droughts in large parts of Africa, while many low-lying countries in Europe and Asia face the prospect of catastrophic flooding. This is likely to lead to massive popula- tion displacement, food shortages, resource competition and an increased risk of conflict. And for one group of countries, the effects of global warming will be nothing short of apocalyptic. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that oceans will rise between 26 and 82 centimetres by the end of this century. This means that, in the decades to come, there is a real chance that a number of island states in the Pacific and Indian oceans will be completely submerged. At present, the four countries most at risk are Kiribati, Maldives, the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu, with a combined population of around half a million people. The possible disappearance of these countries poses challenges to international policymakers on several levels. There are obvious and serious questions about what will happen to the populations of the countries at risk. Where will they live? What will be their status? Yet there are also pro- found, but less well understood, legal and political questions. As things stand, it is wholly unclear how the international community would handle the repercussions arising from the physical disappearance of these countries. In some instances, such uncertainty could lead to territorial tensions, and even conflict.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2016 Taylor and Francis
Divisions: European Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Date Deposited: 22 Apr 2016 13:38
Last Modified: 19 Jun 2024 18:57

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