Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Climate Solutions Lab

Climate Security

University of Denver

Political Science

Winter 2021

Prof. Cullen Hendrix

Undergraduate lecture

Documentary Video / Films

Since the dawn of agriculture (~7000 BCE), but rapidly accelerating in the industrial age (1750 CE to the present), humanity has conducted an uncontrolled experiment in bending the natural environment to fit human needs and desires. Despite the perceived distance that technology has placed between our physical environments and our daily lives, human interactions with our natural environment are still fundamental – and set to be disrupted by climate change, one of the most vexing issues of our time. It poses a wicked problem: a socio/cultural problem that is seemingly impossible to solve due to incomplete knowledge, the number of people and opinions involved, the large changes required, and the linked nature of the problem with other major social issues and problems.

Since the end of the Cold War, much attention has been paid to the role of natural resources and environmental scarcity as a potential source of conflict, ranging from “water wars” between states sharing a common river basin to communal conflict between pastoralists and farmers in the Sahel and even the Syrian Civil War. This course will survey the impacts of climate change on livelihoods and human security, evaluate the expanding literature on environmental impacts on conflict, and address the emerging role of environmental stressors and climate change as US national security issues.