Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Increasingly Strong Connection Between Climate Change and Conflict

Tim McDonnell of Mother Jones magazine recently wrote an excellent piece connecting global warming and violent conflict. McDonnell cites a survey published in Science, which:
"...takes a first-ever 30,000-foot view of this research, looking for trends that tie these examples together through fresh analysis of raw data from 60 quantitative studies. It offers evidence that unusually high temperatures could lead to tens of thousands more cases of "interpersonal" violence—murder, rape, assault, etc.—and more than a 50 percent increase in "intergroup" violence, i.e. war, in some places."
There are many potential reasons for this connection between climate change and violence. There are obvious connections between climate change and natural disaster, which oftentimes goes hand-in-hand with violence. Some researchers claim that warm weather contributes to increased inner-city violence (cue: Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing), such as the recent increase in murders in Chicago. Another reason is exceptionally high and low rainfall impacting agricultural production, which in turn can lead to interpersonal and intergroup violence.

The factors contributing to this connection is piquing the interest of researchers. Hopefully, new studies will draw stronger connections to causality, and perhaps suggest how violence can be lessened and even prevented.

[Photo: Medyan Dairieh/ZUMA Press]

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