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Transition Universities conference, Winchester,
February 2011

Climate Change and Violence workshop series 2008 - 2012
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Climate Change and Humanity, November 2004
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Workshop 2:
3 April 2009
University of Bath »
Dr. Robert Johnson
Deadline for
30 January 2009
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Workshop 2: Human Consequences: Global and Local Dynamics 

The second workshop offers an opportunity to consider case-studies world-wide where climate change is either contributing to already evident stress factors - of whatever environmental or other nature - or is likely to exacerbate these in the near-future. Is climate conflict likely to be a straightforward extension of inter-group struggles for diminishing or degraded resources? In which case should we looking to the Sahel, with Darfur, at it epicentre, as the regional climate disaster zone par excellence? Or at politically weak communal groups - indigenous peoples in particular –who have been consistent victims of developmental politics?  The first and second sessions of this workshop will seek to consider these issues from the perspective of different area studies and diverse forcing factors. For instance, to what degree can we track likely future conflict scenarios in the Middle East to a scarcity of freshwater water resources? Can we perhaps draw up a list of countries and regions most vulnerable to similar scenarios in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Central and South-East Asia, parts of Latin America, as well as Pacific and Indian Ocean island archipelagos? Are there equally, examples from the past which point to how societies suffering repeated environmental catastrophe have turned in on themselves?   In our third session, however, we will pose the question whether vulnerability to climate change remains essentially a weak or ‘failed’ state third world issue. We will be particularly concerned here with how - in an international politically economy of bounded sovereign usually nation states - neighbouring, sometimes less severely affected, sometimes more powerful, polities are likely to respond to mass refugees flows to their borders as well as the degree to which positive or negative signals and actions emanating from leading players in the international community, the UN and powerful NGOs, are likely to feed or starve such escalating crises. Finally, however, we also pose a question which leads into our next workshop: why do we assume such zones of potential violence are likely to be crisis-arenas to which we in the West will only be ongoing onlookers and bystanders?  Should we instead, actually be looking to climate-related violence as equally endemic to increasingly stressed first and second world societies? 


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