The world is generally becoming less violent, but the debate on climate change raises the specter of a new source of instability and conflict. In this field, the policy debate is running well ahead of its academic foundation—and sometimes even contrary to the best evidence. Although comparative research on security implications of climate change is rapidly expanding, major gaps in knowledge still exist. Taken together, extant studies provide mostly inconclusive insights, with contradictory or weak demonstrated effects of climate variability and change on armed conflict. This article reviews the empirical literature on short-term climate/environmental change and intrastate conflict, with special attention to possible insecurity consequences of precipitation and temperature anomalies and weather-related natural disasters. Based on this assessment, it outlines priorities for future research in this area.
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