The debate on security implications of climate change is characterized by strong opinions and dramatic scenarios, with a near-total absence of references to academic research on the topic. This article summarizes some plausible causal chains linking climate change to conflict, and evaluates their empirical foundation. Despite the existence of a few highly publicized studies supporting the notion of future ‘climate wars’, the literature is markedly contradictory and ambiguous. Paradoxically, global warming in recent decades has been accompanied by a decline in the number of on-going conflicts. The article discusses the limitations of earlier studies and identifies possible future lines of research that might plug the holes in our knowledge in this field, and thus contribute to reducing the gap between rhetoric and empirical knowledge.