"Top military brass, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the UN Secretary General have all warned that climate change will create conflicts in the future. But environmental shifts are already causing wars, argues a team of experts in a new paper in Nature published this month."
"El Niño, the oscillating period of warmer temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, brings with it higher temperatures on land and lower rainfall every three to seven years. According to the researchers, the weather phenomenon doubles the risk of civil conflicts in 90 tropical countries. They also believe it has been a potential factor in 21 percent of the world's conflicts over a 54-year span.
As the authors explain, events like droughts put strain on food and water resources, which can cause conflict. Natural disasters can also cause disease, famine, and economic distress, which may create tensions between factions."
Kate Sheppard reports for Mother Jones August 25, 2011.