Introduction: raging forest led towards flooding which damaged 1,800


Current unequally
distributed negative impacts of anthropogenic climate change have shifted away
from causing crime towards inflicting severe harm upon the developing countries
through industrialization of the developed world. Many argue that such issue
requires to be addressed in the future to achieve an equal distribution of
climate justice. Our current activities largely contribute through our culture
of fossil fuels reliance. It is believed that such increasing rate has negatively
influenced the imbalance in our climate triggering more frequent occurrence of
extreme weather events as recently evidenced across the world. The significant
effects explored will address stability, security, social conflict, crime,
health and migration.

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Current Global Impact:

The current extreme and
erratic weather has costed some countries economically, and others with severe long-term
harm. Newell and Paterson (2010) introduced the concept of ‘carboniferous capitalism’ which is a
fundamental driver of global warming through combination of fossil fuels
industrialization and global capitalism (p. 12). According to the Climate
Reality Project (2016), an estimate of 3.9 billion dollars is the price of
adaption to the consequences in Europe. 
While some countries are paying the price with their stable economies,
others are paying the price with their lives, pain, damage and suffering. The
project recognizes international impact as a form of crisis which threatens
stability and security. According to Smith and Vivekananda (2007), the most
vulnerable are the poor in undeveloped and unstable states with poor
governance. A total of 3.9 billion are at risk due to climate change, 2.7
billion of which are at a high risk of conflict (Smith and Vivekananda, 2007).
Not only does the climate impact the developing nations, it also negatively
impacts the western world too. The only difference hereby is, the west own resources
which allow them to shield from possible harm through stable economy and secure
governance. By contrast, the poorer countries do not have such resources or
power to protect themselves and therefore tend to suffer the most.

Impact on the Developed Countries:

In the developed
countries, the consequences of climate change create economic harm.
Nevertheless, with their stability of governance, they can adapt to extreme
weather events. Many activists in the Climate Reality Project (2016) illustrate
current impacts of extreme weather disasters in 24-hour reality representing
187 countries across the world. The following examples demonstrate how
successfully the developed countries have responded, preventing long-term
severity of harm. In Colorado, the burnt scars of a raging forest led towards
flooding which damaged 1,800 homes and 900 businesses. In Europe, the damage to
infrastructure from the floods in 2013 destroyed 85% of homes and costed 17
billion euros. In Netherlands, the expansion of river posed threat towards
flooding. However, in 2012, 39 gateway adaptions were built in response. Hereby,
the following examples demonstrate harm caused to the economy. However, the
individuals themselves were successfully re-located and the price of
consequences is paid by the government. While some criminologists have lacked
focus upon climate change, researches took a reality approach. Activists have
successfully tackled global awareness of harm and raised the issue of carbon
emissions contributing towards climate change and impacting not only developing
countries, but the developed too.

Impact on the Developing Countries:

In the developing
countries, the negative indirect impact of extreme disasters has extensively
harmed the people through lack of government stability, resulting in difficulty
to adapt. The Reality Project (2016) illustrates the power of extreme weather
events triggered by climate change. In Kenya, hunger and drought resulted in
260,000 deaths from famine. Across Africa, climate change has intensified
drought and famine, increasing social conflict. In India, heavy rainfall resulted
in aggressive flooding which took away 5,750 lives. In Bangladesh, a whole
island disappeared under the water, leaving 100,000 people homeless. Activists
predicted that if our carbon emission will not decrease, 1/5 of Bangladesh will
be claimed by the sea by 2100. In Bolivia, heat claimed glaciers upon which 10
million people rely on for water. The International Panel of Climate Change
(2014) identified such areas as ‘hot spots’ which are at high risk. While some
countries may have the power to adapt, others are left vulnerable and severely
harmed by the power of extreme weather events.

Impact on Social Conflict:

While some criminologists
argue that high temperature may lead towards aggression and violence, others
suggest that certain nations may establish an adaption strategy to achieve
security during erratic climate changes. Socio-economic theory suggests
positive framework for analyzing contemporary drivers and consequences of
climate change (Gough,2017). According to Burke et al. (2015), a link between
heat and violence was discovered within 83% of their studies. This demonstrates
a meta-analysis of 56 cross-national studies whereby various forms of
aggression and violence were discovered in countries with higher temperatures
(Burke et al., 2015). Lange et al. (2017) proposed two ideas of why this may be
the case. Firstly, that individuals possess greater self-control during colder
temperatures. Secondly, that self-control as well as future orientation inhibit
aggression and violence. In contrast, Burke et al. (2015) suggested that people
may develop and maintain various cultures which aim to adapt towards stability
during the occurrence of possible climatological circumstances. Theory of Human
Need believes that to avoid possible harm, certain basic needs need to be met
(Doyal and Gough, 1991). Therefore, if certain basic needs are satisfied, then
the risk of conflict would decrease. However, during extreme weather disasters,
the risk of social conflict outbreak may arise through development of power
groups which may control the remaining resources, leaving the powerless

The Life History theory argues that during the circumstances
of a harsh and unpredictable environmental conditions, individuals are more
likely to adopt a fast life strategy due to the future rewards becoming less
available (Lange et al., 2017)). Alternatively, individuals tend to adopt a
slower life strategy due to the likeliness of achieving future rewards
(Frankenhuis et al., 2016).  Therefore,
CLASH implies a planning culture
whereby the individuals are controllable
through their future planning (Lange et al., 2017). However, this may be
negatively impacted upon during unexpected climate change whereby conflict may
arise as a result if plans are not met. Rotton and Cohn (2003) argue that
strain will intensify through climate change due to high temperature. For
instance, during hot weather events, routine activities will be affected in
poorer countries (Rotton and Cohn,2003). While the western nation may be able
to gain access towards resources such as air conditioning, the poorer nations
will be unable to protect themselves from heat.

The deterministic approach implies there is a possible link
between climate change consequences of scarce resources and political violence.
Salehyan (2008) argues that ‘climate
change will exacerbate resource scarcity, create mass pollution dislocations
and fuel violent conflicts’ (Salehyan, 2008). He believes the effects to be
more prominent in the developing countries where the infrastructure is poor and
the agricultural economies are much more ‘sensitive
to environmental stress’ (Salehyan, 2008). The lack of resources may create
rebel operations whereby the new discovered resources may create conflict
during distribution. For example, in Kenya, the scarce resources were
distributed through violence whereby people were murdered during the process of
fighting over the areas with rainfall and fertile land (Climate Reality
Project, 2016). Environmental determinism argues that there may be a potential
shift from climate change towards an open
warfare. Furthermore, Salehyan (2008) believes that armed conflicts are the
product of ‘failures of the government’
implying that the power will be in the hands of the community which would
become unequally divided into power groups.

In contrast, certain cases illustrate that climate change
does not result in conflict. For example, the Asian Tsunami in 2004 did not
cause social conflict due to infrastructural damage, flooding and resource
scarcity (Salehyan, 2008). There are several criticisms of the deterministic
approach. Firstly, it lacks predictive power as to when a conflict may occur. Busby
(2008) predicts that the most severe impacts will appear in the future yet the
future is uncertain. Secondly, lacking access to resources does not always
escalate in open warfare or state collapse. Thirdly, the states are responsible
for the environmental degradation and resource shortfalls. Lastly, violent
conflict is an inefficient and sub-optimal reaction to changes in the
environment and resource scarcities.

Impact on Crime:

Criminologists discovered
an existing correlation between climate change and crime. Agnew (2011) argues
that climate change may become one of the leading crime-driven forces which
will need to be addressed by future criminologists. White and Heckenberg (2011)
introduced environmental horizon scanning
involving environmental analysis of resulting harms and transgressions. Agnew
(2011) established a link between climate change and individual, corporate or
state crime. This includes an individual’s act of violence or theft, corporate
crime of pollution and bribery or acts of state aggression violating
international law (Maier-Katkin et al., 2009). Critical and environment
criminologists have also argued that certain legal actions may inflict greater
harm upon humans as well as non-humans and the environment. (Lynch et al.,

There is a clear injustice of strains which furthermore leads
to crime as a response to greater anthropogenic contribution from the west. As
a result, unequal impact is portrayed in an unjust light for the developing
nations who contribute extremely less in comparison. The Ugandan president
stated that climate change is ‘an act of
aggression by the rich against the poor’ (Richardson et al. 2009). Agnew
(2011) also believes that climate change will expose many towards a sense of
strain, reducing social control. Some examples include increase in temperature,
increase in frequency and intensity of extreme weather events and increase in
poverty and inequality. Such strains include negative emotions of anger,
frustration or fear (Agnew,2011). As a solution, individuals may decide to turn
to crime to satisfy their demands as the opportunity arises from lack of state
control. Agnew (2011) suggests that high temperatures act as stressors and
increase the level of irritability and anger in an individual. It also acts as
a form of causation whereby the heat intensifies lack of protection and
vulnerability of individuals in the developing world who cannot access air
conditioning and are forced to remain outdoors. Therefore, the following
evidence demonstrates possible correlation between heat and crime as well as

Impact on Health:

The quality of health may
potentially become the price of anthropogenic climate change to all nations
around the world. Recently, many criminologists have focused upon the social,
environmental and economic consequences of climate change. However, they have
lacked addressing the impact on health. The large anthropogenic contribution of
emissions towards climate change has negatively impacted upon the quality of
air and health of many Americans including the young, the old and poor
(Sommer,2015). He also argues that the areas around the world whereby resources
are limited, are the areas which will be significantly harmed.  Lancet Commission report (2015) stated that
the most harmed will become those individuals who are marginalized and have no
access to protection against extreme weather. Agnew (2011) argues that climate
change will spread diseases such as malaria through water contamination and cardio-respiratory
diseases through pollution as well as heat stress and trauma. The social
vulnerability approach argues that social and health impacts of climate hazards
are mediated through the ability to recover, respond and prepare (O’Neill, 2016).
While individuals in some countries may be able to afford healthcare
treatments, those who are trapped in poorer countries will not have monetary
resources for high-quality treatment.

Not only does climate change impact the health of many, it
also has the power to take away lives. The Global Humanitarian Forum (2009)
estimated climate change to be responsible for 300,000 of deaths caused each year.
Over 85% of which occurred in lower income countries (LICs), involving mainly children.
It is also evident in high income countries (HICs) that high temperatures in
cases such as the 2013 heatwave resulted in 30,000 deaths (Global Humanitarian
Forum,2009). Short-term impacts include direct physical injury, disease or
death. Long-term impacts include poor air quality which may furthermore trigger
ischemic stroke and myocardial infarction. A possible indirect impact causing
harm may be an increasing number in disability-adjusted life years (Nicholson
et al., p.68). The poorer billion people in the world contribute only 3% of the
global anthropogenic climate change (Nicholson et al., p.74). Yet they are
facing an illness burden of having no power to access treatment or sanitation to
overcome the risk of diseases.

In the developed world, after the occurrence of a natural
disaster, the nation is more likely to receive qualitative treatments through the
wealth of their economy. They can re-build infrastructure and avoid potential
water spread diseases. However, in the developing world, the nations may
already directly suffer from post-disaster diseases such as malaria or
respiratory disease (Agnew, 2011). For example, there has been a link between
the occurrence of a smog and the rate of miscarriages in Russia (Climate
Reality Project,2016).  Although the
developed countries may not be as severely harmed, some criminologists argue
that there is a great link between the level of pollution as a causation of
cardio-respiratory diseases (Agnew,2011). Indirect harm arising from climate
change may increase the risk to mental health (Nicholson et al., p.76). For
example, those who have experienced extreme weather disasters may suffer
post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression or even suicide (Nicholson et al., p.76).  The International Panel of Climate Change (2014)
identifies such countries as ‘trapped
populations’ whereby the loss of their land and resources in addition to
the lack of power to respond and adjust by state governance leaves many to become
climate burdens trapped with destroyed homes.

Impact on Forced Migration:

Many criminologists argue
that climate change may lead towards forced migration of climate refugees which
will harm not on the refugees themselves, but the regions of acceptance. The
Department of Defense report predicts that ‘nations
with the resources to do so may built virtual fortresses around their
countries, preserving the resources for themselves’ and that the developing
countries may struggle accessing ‘food,
clean water, or energy’ (Schwartz and Randall, 2003). Global Humanitarian
Forum (2009) stated that consequences of climate changes such as drought will
leave many in Sub-Saharan Africa with no option but to re-locate due to their
current land becoming deserted. Oxfam (2009) predicted that around 25 million
of people in Bangladesh will be at great harm of losing their homes to rising
sea-level. Although some migration may be international, criminologists argue
that it will take place internally. As a result, many mega-cities will be
created, consisting of high level of pollution, overcrowding and lack of
necessary infrastructure or access to sanitation such as sewage or clean water

The Westphalian model of justice argues that current legal
order rejects the victims of ‘ecological
persecution safe haven’ (Skillington, 2015).  Skillington (2015) argues that current legal
instruments deny the safety of climate refugees. One person in every 45 people
is at risk of being displaced by effects of climate change by 2050
(Myers,2005). Furthermore, many are forced involuntarily to migrate after
losing their homes or having no fertile land to live off. Sen (2010) described
a migrant being denied the opportunity for freedom as well as deprived from
power to prevent possible further infliction of harm.  The power lies within ‘legal violence’ which sees denial as normal legal-administrative
procedure, failing to acknowledge climate displaced refugees and their
suffering. In the eyes of law, such victims are suffering from ‘unintended side effect of global economic
and political order unable to reverse the course of global ecological destruction
and its human consequences’ (Menjivar and Abrego,2012). Furthermore,
Derrida (1997) identifies this as ‘new
cruelty’ with reference to those who are intruding upon the sovereign consciousness
of other countries (Skillsman, 2015). While the impact of climate change result
in forced migration, many climate refugees are left powerless and entrapped in
refugee camps of mega-cities or denied their freedom of movement by the power
of international states who may see mass migration as a threat to their
security and stability.  

Current Climate Justice:

Many steps have been
taken in order to achieve climate justice so far. For example, Paris Agreement
(2015) aimed to limit the earth’s increasing temperature to 2 degrees. If
criminologists will increase their focus upon the global impact of climate
change, they would be able to help raise awareness of the possible level of
current harm inflicted to the poorer countries and perhaps help to prevent
extensive harm by introducing mitigation and adaption. Agnew (2011) suggested
that climate change may lead us towards ‘Honnesoan
state of nature’ whereby the individuals as well as groups may find it
challenging to survive through damaged environment remaining from extreme
climate change. Although some countries may have greater power to act as
opposed to others. Foucault has identified such countries as ‘the third world’.
He believes that the power has shifted to democracy whereby the 1st
world is harming the 3rd world (Dalby, 2013). Therefore, if
collective responsibility is taken, the distribution of equal climate justice
will be achieved. However, it will require significant changes to current
cultural lifestyles which may be challenging due to the current significant
reliance upon fossil fuels by the developed countries.


Overall, it can be
gathered from existing researchers, theorists and criminologists that the
impact of climate change is unequally distributed across the globe. While all
countries may pay the price, some are harmed significantly more than others.
The power of extreme weather events does not discriminate, it harms any nations
which stand in the way. While the developed nations can shield themselves
against such harm through their ability to adapt, the developing nations are
left vulnerable and hold no power to protect themselves but only to turn to
crime to meet their needs or forcefully migrate into a different place in hopes
for replacing their lost homes. Climate change affects not only socially or
economically, but it also creates high risk of health in the future. It can be
gathered that the focus on climate change is lacked by criminologists. However,
it has been suggested by many researchers that such an issue will require criminologists’
attention to achieve climate justice for all.