Ph.D. candidate’s article earns International Award for Excellence – K. Tanaka

A University of Maine doctoral candidate co-wrote an article that won the International Award for Excellence for The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 8.

Kisei Tanaka, who wrote “Climate Change, Conflict, and Moving Borders” with James Lee of American University, is affiliated with the Climate Change Institute and the Ecology and Environmental Sciences Program.

Lee and Tanaka’s article assesses whether climate change can accelerate conflict by increasing the rate of natural border change.

Their examination of likely climate forecasts suggests greater border conflict due to changes in rivers, glaciers and coastlines.

They reviewed nine historical cases that indicated both peaceful and hostile responses to border movements. In each case, the dispute came down to differences in measurement rules and their interpretation.

The lessons are instructive for dealing with future challenges and developing a system of policy responses, the authors say.

“Often, the consequences of climate change are discussed as a direct impact on the well-being of human society such as intensified storms, prolonged drought, changes in precipitation patterns and sea-level rise,” Tanaka says.

“However, it is also crucial to acknowledge that all these climate-induced changes in the environment indirectly can act as a catalyst for potential and realized border disputes between nations.

“I believe this research can contribute to the growing recognition that movement in natural borders is accelerating due to climate change and the notions of equal and equitable territorial claims will need to evolve accordingly.”

The article was selected for the international award from among the 10 highest-ranked articles emerging from the peer-review process and according to the selection criteria.

Tanaka takes part in the National Science Foundation-sponsored Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) at UMaine. The joint program of the CCI and the School of Policy and International Affairs focuses on adaptation to abrupt climate change.

The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses is a scholarly, peer-reviewed journal with an acceptance rate of 34 percent and a circulation of more than 320,000. It focuses on distinct themed areas including: scientific evidence; assessing impacts in divergent ecosystems; human impacts and impacts on humans; and technical, political and social responses.