Stanford University
Garrett Adler

E-IPER Dissertation Defense - Garrett Albistegui Adler "Social Order and Social Protection: Mechanisms and Moderators in Climate-Related Violent Conflict"

Affiliates, Alumni, Faculty, Staff, Students
Emmett Interdisciplinary Program in Environment & Resources

Virtual: Zoom Webinar


Do higher temperatures or droughts lead to more conflict? If so, why and under what conditions? And what can we do about it? 

If warming is increasing the likelihood of violence, two approaches will be necessary to mitigate climate change’s most hostile effects. First, we need to understand the causal mechanisms, identifying links in the causal chain that connect climate to conflict. Policymakers can then craft effective interventions that block one or more of those links. Second, we need to identify the moderators that enhance or suppress the influence of climate on conflict. Policymakers and administrators can then more effectively determine the countries, regions or individuals that are most vulnerable to climate-related violence. Together, they can optimally target those interventions towards those most vulnerable areas or individuals. The combination of effective policy, informed by greater knowledge of causal mechanisms, and effective targeting, informed by increased understanding of effect moderators, can reduce the overall likelihood of climate change leading to violence. 

My dissertation, is composed of three separate but thematically related studies. It seeks to better elucidate both moderators and mechanisms in the climate-conflict relationship, particularly those involving local-level social relations and institutions, and national-level social insurance policies. Specifically, my dissertation explores 1) whether trust and social capital moderate temperature’s influence on conflict across 33 countries in Africa, 2) whether climate stress is more likely to lead to conflict or cooperation in northern Namibia and 3) whether a programmatic social safety net policy in Ethiopia can block links in the causal chain from climatic stress, to economic hardship, to violence. Collectively, these studies provide novel empirical tests of a set of notable factors – suggested by the literatures on political and economic development, social capital, economic influences on conflict and climate resilience – that may moderate or explain the influence of climatic factors on conflict in developing countries. 

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