One fear of climate change is that more variable weather conditions will lead to violence and chaos in some places. But looking at it methodically, do erratic weather conditions actually lead to violent conflict and political instability? Not necessarily.
In a forthcoming contribution in the Journal of Peace Research, I find that the emergence of violent conflict in connection with adverse weather events, such as droughts, in sub-Saharan Africa is very much dependent on the infrastructure of affected areas.
In African regions with a comparably dense road network and good access to ground water reserves, rural communities cope more easily with drought and are thus less likely to join prospective rebel armies or clash over access to water and arable land when these become scarce.
In remote and structurally neglected regions, the situation is different. In these settings, droughts are likely to compromise the livelihoods of vulnerable communities and thus exacerbate both anti-state grievances and local resource conflicts.