Climate Change And The Next Genocide

We’ll talk with historian Tim Snyder, who sees resource wars behind past genocides and says climate change now raises the danger again.

The bare landscape of Crimea, Ukraine, offers little protection in warfare, and German infantrymen hug the ground to escape enemy fire, Jan. 7, 1942.  (AP)

The bare landscape of Crimea, Ukraine, offers little protection in warfare, and German infantrymen hug the ground to escape enemy fire, Jan. 7, 1942. (AP)

Yale historian Timothy Snyder has shaken up what seemed the settled history of World War II and the Holocaust with a more complicated view of Hitler and his motives. Anti-Semitism, yes. Raging. But tied, crucially, to a desperate sense of limited resources. An “ecological panic,” says Snyder, that drove Hitler and the Nazis to conquest, the dissolution of states that might resist them, and to mass murder. Genocide. Now, Snyder warns, we should not think those impulses are frozen in the past. Climate change could spark a return. This hour On Point,  a new warning on ecological panic and resource wars.

— Tom Ashbrook


Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University. Author of the new book, “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning.” Also author of “Bloodlands.” (@TimothyDSnyder)

Francesco Femia, co-founder and director of the Center for Climate and Security.

From Tom’s Reading List

New York Times: The Next Genocide — “The Holocaust may seem a distant horror whose lessons have already been learned. But sadly, the anxieties of our own era could once again give rise to scapegoats and imagined enemies, while contemporary environmental stresses could encourage new variations on Hitler’s ideas, especially in countries anxious about feeding their growing populations or maintaining a rising standard of living.”

Washington Post: Drought helped cause Syria’s war. Will climate change bring more like it? — “Right up to the day before the revolt began in Daraa, many international security analysts were essentially predicting that Syria was immune to the Arab Spring. They concluded it was generally a stable country. What they had missed was that a massive internal migration was happening, mainly on the periphery, from farmers and herders who had lost their livelihoods completely.”

New Yorker: Blood and Soil — “If you believe, with Snyder, that the Second World War was really about subject peoples robbed of their states and their identity at a moment of environmental crisis and pitted against one another by a brutal colonialism, you are likely to see in Rwanda a similar kind of tragedy, as Snyder does—and you are likely to be sympathetic, as Snyder is, to protecting small-state identities and encouraging their nationalisms.”

Read An Excerpt Of “Black Earth” By Tim Snyder

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