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The Cities at Risk of Climate-Driven Conflict

The evidence is mounting that climate-related droughts, floods, and other events lead to political instability and human conflict. Some cities are especially vulnerable to the “threat multiplier” of climate change.  
Pakistan Navy special forces conduct a counter-terrorism exercise in Karachi in 2013.
Pakistan Navy special forces conduct a counter-terrorism exercise in Karachi in 2013. Akhtar Soomro/Reuters

We know that climate change imperils coastal communities around the world and endangers food and water sources, and that political and religious extremism feed off instability and cause bloodshed. But because each contributes to the other, the future of millions may be at risk.

A 2013 University of California, Berkeley study analyzed 60 previous studies and concluded that the connection between climate change and human conflict is strong. Droughts and famines, floods, wildfires, and other events caused at least in part by climate change lead to instability that extremist groups can take advantage of to create conflict.