Struggles over drinking water, new outbreaks of mass violence, ethnic cleansing, civil wars in the earth’s poorest countries, endless flows of refugees: these are the new conflicts and forces shaping the world of the 21st century. They no longer hinge on ideological rivalries between great powers but rather on issues of class, religion and resources. The genocides of the last century have taught us how quickly social problems can spill over into radical and deadly solutions. Rich countries are already developing strategies to garner resources and keep ‘climate refugees’ at bay.
In this major new book Harald Welzer shows how climate change and violence go hand in hand. Climate change has far-reaching consequences for the living conditions of peoples around the world: inhabitable spaces shrink, scarce resources become scarcer, injustices grow deeper, not only between North and South but also between generations, storing up material for new social tensions and giving rise to violent conflicts, civil wars and massive refugee flows. Climate change poses major new challenges in terms of security, responsibility and justice, but as Welzer makes disturbingly clear, very little is being done to confront them.