“Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and partner universities create tools to help vulnerable populations adapt to climate change and political instability“
Sounded good until you get to the waffle about “detailed regional climate models”
Our planet’s changing climate is devastating communities in Africa through droughts, floods and myriad other disasters.
Using detailed regional climate models and geographic information systems, researchers with the Climate Change and African Political Stability (CCAPS) program developed an online mapping tool that analyzes how climate and other forces interact to threaten the security of African communities.
The program was piloted by the Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law at The University of Texas at Austin in 2009 after receiving a $7.6 million five-year grant from the Minerva Initiative with the Department of Defense, according to Francis J. Gavin, professor of international affairs and director of the Strauss Center.
“The first goal was to look at whether we could more effectively identify what were the causes and locations of vulnerability in Africa, not just climate, but other kinds of vulnerability,” Gavin said.
CCAPS comprises nine research teams focusing on various aspects of climate change, their relationship to different types of conflict, the government structures that exist to mitigate them, and the effectiveness of international aid in intervening. Although most CCAPS researchers are based at The University of Texas at Austin, the Strauss Center also works closely with Trinity College Dublin, the College of William and Mary, and the University of North Texas.
“In the beginning these all began as related, but not intimately connected, topics” Gavin said, “and one of the really impressive things about the project is how all these different streams have come together.”
Africa is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to its reliance on rain-fed agriculture and the inability of many of its governments to help communities in times of need.
The region is of increasing importance for U.S. national security, according to Gavin, because of the growth of its population, economic strength and resource importance, and also due to concerns about non-state actors, weakening governments and humanitarian disasters.
Although these issues are too complex to yield a direct causal link between climate change and security concerns, he said, understanding the levels of vulnerability that exist is crucial in comprehending the full effect of this changing paradigm.