Military Aspects of Climate Change in Africa

Climate change is not (just) about prevention. Emissions from the past century guarantee climate change will continue far into the future, even if we stop them now. How its impacts play out around the world, however, are not well understood. The U.S. military, however, is not fond of surprises.

Here’s a brief story at Fast Company (huh, didn’t know they were still around, to tell you the truth) about that.


  1. MT, that's an interesting study (thanks!) but it has little to do with military or any other aspects of climate change. It's a guesstimate of the socio-political vulnerability of past African populations (a 2000 snapshot) to a mixture of past weather (five-sixths) and future sea-level rise (one-sixth).

    I can't see how anyone, even the military, could find it useful as a planning tool. No population growth or industrialization or shifting weather patterns or changes to land cover. No improvements in education or health care or governance.

    I'm not even sure it's particularly useful as a guide to the past. Infrastructure wasn't included, the governance index is unreliable (good governance and no political violence in Western Sahara?) and the composite index was produced in a wholly arbitrary fashion: the component and sub-component indices were given equal weight, not because this was a good idea but because the researchers couldn't think what else to do. (And neither can I.)

    They set out to do something very useful. In most such studies, any acknowledgement that climate change is just one factor among many is banished to the small print. In this one, it's the whole thing. They also acknowledge that current regional projections of climate change in Africa are too contradictory to be much use for forecasting, which is refreshing. (Although I think they should have used them anyway. A dodgy forecast of future vulnerabilities has got to be slightly more useful than a dodgy hindcast.)

    They're planning a new version that will correct some of these weaknesses. Good luck to them. Looking forward to it.

    Here's a link to a longer version of the current study than that linked from the Fast Co article:

  2. Vinny, I think the relevant point on the military aspect is that it's the US Defense Department which has funded this study, showing that the military are taking climate change and its pottential impacts seriously.

    I'd not heard of the Minerva Initiative before - a "nascent program" - looks like they are having funding problems though, no surprise I suppose.

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