Journal cover Journal topic
Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

Journal metrics

  • IF value: 3.635 IF 3.635
  • IF 5-year<br/> value: 3.869 IF 5-year
    3.869
  • CiteScore<br/> value: 4.15 CiteScore
    4.15
  • SNIP value: 0.995 SNIP 0.995
  • SJR value: 2.742 SJR 2.742
  • IPP value: 3.679 IPP 3.679
  • h5-index value: 21 h5-index 21
Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 89-102, 2016
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-7-89-2016
© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Review article
08 Feb 2016
Perspectives on contextual vulnerability in discourses of climate conflict
U. T. Okpara1,2, L. C. Stringer1, and A. J. Dougill1 1Sustainability Research Institute, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds, LS2 9JT, UK
2Agricultural Economics Department, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria
Abstract. The science of climate security and conflict is replete with controversies. Yet the increasing vulnerability of politically fragile countries to the security consequences of climate change is widely acknowledged. Although climate conflict reflects a continuum of conditional forces that coalesce around the notion of vulnerability, how different portrayals of vulnerability influence the discursive formation of climate conflict relations remains an exceptional but under-researched issue. This paper combines a systematic discourse analysis with a vulnerability interpretation diagnostic tool to explore (i) how discourses of climate conflict are constructed and represented, (ii) how vulnerability is communicated across discourse lines, and (iii) the strength of contextual vulnerability against a deterministic narrative of scarcity-induced conflict, such as that pertaining to land. Systematically characterising climate conflict discourses based on the central issues constructed, assumptions about mechanistic relationships, implicit normative judgements and vulnerability portrayals, provides a useful way of understanding where discourses differ. While discourses show a wide range of opinions "for" and "against" climate conflict relations, engagement with vulnerability has been less pronounced – except for the dominant context centrism discourse concerned about human security (particularly in Africa). In exploring this discourse, we observe an increasing sense of contextual vulnerability that is oriented towards a concern for complexity rather than predictability. The article concludes by illustrating that a turn towards contextual vulnerability thinking will help advance a constructivist theory-informed climate conflict scholarship that recognises historicity, specificity, and variability as crucial elements of contextual totalities of any area affected by climate conflict.

Citation: Okpara, U. T., Stringer, L. C., and Dougill, A. J.: Perspectives on contextual vulnerability in discourses of climate conflict, Earth Syst. Dynam., 7, 89-102, https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-7-89-2016, 2016.
Publications Copernicus
Download
Short summary
We draw on the premise that climate conflict reflects a continuum of conditional forces that often coalesce around the notion of vulnerability to show how vulnerability is portrayed in the discursive formation of climate conflict relations. Comparing three discourse types, we illustrate that a turn towards contextual vulnerability thinking will help advance a constructivist theory-informed climate conflict scholarship that recognises historicity, specificity and variability.
We draw on the premise that climate conflict reflects a continuum of conditional forces that...
Share