“Conflict and Chaos: The Footprints of Climate Change” – Nitsaniyah Fitch


Name: Nitsaniyah Fitch

Department: Institute for Policy and Civic Engagement, UIC

Advisor: Dr. Joseph K. Hoereth, IPCE

With each degree the world grows warmer, the effects of climate change are felt more intensely; and much like a crime scene, the trail left behind as proof of its presence, is both chaotic and full of conflict. Understanding the relationship between climate change and conflict should begin by acknowledging climate change as an immediate threat to the health and integrity of international commons such as water (i.e. the oceans), and air (i.e the atmosphere). Climate Change is restricting access to public commons, which is a direct violation of the public trust doctrine which states:” Certain natural and cultural resources are preserved for public use, and that the government owns and must protect and maintain these resources for the public’s use.” (Public Trust Doctrine. (n.d.)

The purpose of conducting this research is to analyze and understand the extent to which conflict follows climate change events and how a region, based on its geography and political landscape, is able to subsequently recover and address its needs. The methodology behind this research includes both a literature review of scholarly articles and an analysis of news reports from local and national media outlets, that report and discuss the environmental, economic, social, and political effects of climate change on specified regions. Additionally, the viewing of documentaries contributed to the research methods of this project.

As a means of understanding the relationship between climate change and conflict, regions across the United States that have experienced climate change related events, but possess varying political landscapes, were selected for observation and analysis. By observing the key political and economic factors as they relate to the geography of each region, a clear relationship between a region’s geography, its politics, and its ability to recover from the climate change event becomes apparent. Regions most affected by climate change events were often near the coasts or closer to the equator. A region’s political landscape greatly influenced its ability to recover from the events, while economics played a significant role in the region’s ability to rebuild. Furthermore, a major issue that could spark further research, was the significant difference in the impact climate change events have on northern and southern hemisphere countries, and their relative abilities to recover from those events.

Keywords:  Climate Change, Conflict, Geopolitics, Geo-economics, Politics, Economics

Read more about Nitsaniyah's work here