Scientists Quantify How Climate Change Foments Violence
What’s the Latest Development?
After aggregating 60 studies that examine the effects of temperature variation on modern conflict, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have reached some startling conclusions. They found that higher temperatures and extreme rainfall consistently led to large increases in conflict: “For each one standard deviation change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, the median effect was a 14 percent increase in conflict between groups, and a 4 percent increase in conflict between individuals.” The studies in question came from diverse fields such as archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science and psychology.
What’s the Big Idea?
Anyone who has lived through a hot summer day in the city understands that aggression levels can quickly spike with seemingly little explanation. But scientists theorize our impatience with extreme weather relates to resource scarcity: “In low-income countries largely dependent on agriculture…when the rains fail and temperatures scorch, crops wilt and die. This leaves many people dangerously close to the edge of survival, which can lead to social strife and even civil war.” Given a global temperature rise of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, an amount predicted by current climate models by mid-century, the rate of group conflicts like civil wars could increase by an astonishing 50 percent in many parts of the world.
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