In recent decades, the discourse surrounding climate change has primarily focused on its environmental impact: rising sea levels, extreme weather events, and biodiversity loss. However, a less visible yet equally significant consequence of climate change – is its role in exacerbating social and economic violence. As temperatures soar and resources dwindle, around the world communities are grappling with heightened tensions, conflict, and inequality. Understanding this connection is crucial for effective mitigation and adaptation strategies.

By Md Biozid Jessorey

Climate Change and Resource Scarcity:
One of the most direct ways climate change fuels violence is through the scarcity of vital resources. As droughts become more frequent and severe, water sources dry up, crops fail, and livestock die. In regions heavily reliant on agriculture, such as sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia, this scarcity often leads to conflicts over dwindling resources. Competition for water and arable land intensifies, exacerbating existing tensions and sometimes erupting into violence between communities, ethnic groups, or even nations.

Displacement and Conflict:
Climate-induced displacement is another consequence that fuels social and economic violence. As sea levels rise and extreme weather events become more common, millions of people are forced to flee their homes in search of safety and livelihoods. This mass movement of people strains resources in host communities, leading to resentment and sometimes violence against migrants and refugees. Furthermore, the displacement often exacerbates pre-existing social tensions and can contribute to the outbreak of conflict, as seen in regions like the Middle East and Central America.

Economic Inequality and Vulnerability:
Climate change disproportionately affects marginalized and vulnerable communities, exacerbating economic inequality and social unrest. Small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, and low-income urban dwellers are among the hardest hit by environmental degradation and extreme weather events. As their livelihoods are threatened, these communities are pushed further into poverty, increasing their susceptibility to exploitation and violence. Moreover, as governments and corporations prioritize profit over sustainability, environmental degradation often intersects with broader issues of economic injustice, leading to protests and social upheaval.

Violence Against Environmental Defenders:
In the fight against climate change, environmental activists and defenders play a crucial role in advocating for sustainable practices and protecting natural resources. However, they often face violence and intimidation from powerful interests opposed to change. Across the globe, environmental defenders are targeted, harassed, and even killed for their activism. Whether it’s indigenous leaders resisting land grabs or grassroots organizers protesting against polluting industries, the link between climate change and violence is tragically evident in the struggles of these individuals.

Addressing the Root Causes:
To address the intertwining issues of climate change and violence, a multifaceted approach is needed. First and foremost, efforts to mitigate climate change must be accelerated to reduce the severity of its impacts. This includes transitioning to renewable energy sources, implementing sustainable land management practices, and promoting conservation efforts. Additionally, there must be a focus on building resilience within communities most vulnerable to climate change, ensuring they have access to resources and support systems to withstand environmental shocks.

Furthermore, addressing the root causes of social and economic inequality is essential for preventing violence in the face of climate change. This involves promoting equitable economic policies, protecting the rights of marginalized groups, and fostering inclusive decision-making processes. Moreover, strengthening mechanisms for conflict resolution and peacebuilding can help prevent climate-induced tensions from escalating into violence.

The link between climate change and violence, both social and economic, is complex and multifaceted. As temperatures continue to rise and extreme weather events become more frequent, the need for comprehensive strategies to address these intertwined issues becomes increasingly urgent. By prioritizing environmental sustainability, promoting social justice, and fostering resilience, we can work towards a future where communities are empowered to thrive in the face of climate change, rather than being torn apart by its consequences.

Mr. Md Biozid Jessorey is a dynamic motivational speaker, trainer, youth leader, and academician with extensive experience in both Bangladeshi and German universities, including Primeasia University, University of Kaiserslautern, and University of Kiel. He has also worked with various national and international NGOs such as Amnesty International and UNICEF. Biozid specializes in nuclear safety, youth development, climate change, and genetics, and is the author of the financial literacy book “Sohjei E-Commerce.” He holds certifications as an e-commerce and SME policy expert from the United Nations World Trade Organization and as an IAEA safety standard expert from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Biozid has led significant initiatives like the Union Math Festival and youth leadership development in Bangladesh, earning recognition from media outlets like BBC World and DW. A humanist and nonviolence activist since 2008, he believes true change comes from within the community. Growing up in the climate-affected city of Khulna, he enjoys meeting new people and embracing diverse perspectives.