At first glance, climate change and genocide seem to have nothing in common, but if you combine them with the keywords “scarcity of resources” and “living space”, you get a bigger picture. If one follows the apocalyptic predictions, then the earth will be uninhabitable in a relatively short time. But even the more conservative studies predict that millions of people will be affected by global warming. Climate protection will thus become one of the greatest challenges facing humanity – especially in relation to genocide.
Global warming is responsible for storms, environmental disasters and scarcity of resources. It drives desertification and causes sea levels to rise, which in turn makes coastal regions uninhabitable. And it is precisely in these coastal regions that approximately two to three billion people live. Poorer countries and countries in the global South are particularly affected and the most vulnerable by climate change because they often lack the money and resources to cope with the new challenges. As a result, the number of climate refugees will increase in the future, leading to a real or even imagined overpopulation in some parts of the world. The supply of oil and other fossil fuels will also be exhausted in the not too distant future. All this can contribute to a sense of crisis. And whenever there are bottlenecks, conflicts quickly arise. People are afraid that food and water may become scarce or simply that they will no longer be able to maintain their accustomed standard of living.
Climate change creates a shortage of resources and thus increases the possibility of violence. Climate conflicts are already a reality today. The genocide in Sudan and the civil war in Syria can be attributed in part to a shortage of resources.
Looking at our history, it becomes clear that many wars and genocides were waged over land as a resource. Many states established colonies in America, Australia, Asia and Africa to conquer territory. Hitler also pursued a fight over Lebensraum during the Second World War to ensure the survival of the German race. Other perpetrators did not want to enlarge their land, but wanted to clean it, like the Ottoman Empire (Armenia, Assyrians & Pontic-Greeks), Rwanda and Bosnia.
Today many countries already buy and lease fertile land in other states. What is still civilized today and regulated by money and contracts can quickly turn into violent conflicts under the impression of scarcity, fear and need. Land, water, food and energy resources are dwindling, but the world’s population is growing steadily. Under these circumstances, genocide could appear to be a logical solution. Genocide is not a crime without motive; it is not only committed by ideologically blinded psychopaths. Genocide is usually based on a deeper conflict that leads to polarisation, classification and dehumanisation. The killing of thousands of people, especially traditional enemies and competitors, seems to be the only logical solution to the crisis to the perpetrators and ensures their own survival.
Climate change not only affects the weather and the environment, but also our living conditions and violence. Sustainable prevention is the keyword here. In order to prevent genocide, one must not only concentrate on the ideological components of genocide, but must also identify the underlying conflict and start solving the problem.
In this case, the specific message is that if you are committed to climate and environmental protection, you are actively contributing to genocide prevention.
# Greenpeace „Klimawandel – Treibhaus Erde“ Abrufbar unter: https://www.greenpeace.de/themen/klimawandel (Stand 26.02.16)
# Lighthouse Foundation – Stiftung für die Meere und Ozeane „Brennpunkt Küstenzone“ Abrufbar unter: http://www.lighthouse-foundation.org/index.php?id=166 (Stand 26.02.16)
# Reuveny, R. (2007) „Climate change-induced migration and violent conflict“ in Political Geography, Vol. 26, No. 6, S. 656-673.
# Zimmerer, J. (2014) “Climate change, environmental violence and genocide.” in The International Journal of Human Rights, Vol. 18, No.3, S. 265-280. Abrufbar unter: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/13642987.2014.914701 (Stand 26.02.16)
# Zimmerer, J. (2007) “From the Editors: Environmental genocide? Climate change, mass violence and the question of ideology.” in Journal of Genocide Research, Vol. 9, No.3, S. 349-351. Abrufbar unter: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14623520701559457 (Stand 26.02.16)