Will Global Warming Lead to Global Violence?
It’s no secret that violence is prevalent around the world. Protesters clash with police. Countries go to war. It’s a scene that is perpetuated every day. Unfortunately, as the world gets warmer, we’re likely to see even more violent outbreaks, according to UC Berkeley’s Solomon Hsiang and Marshall Burke.
They say they have discovered a link between climate change and violence. Hsiang says that the two researchers gathered historical data that identified incidents of conflict and compared it to climate data from the same period.
Hsiang said, “So what we find is that around the world and throughout history, whether we look at the very small scale or the very large scale climatic fluctuations appear to have an influence on the likelihood of human conflict.”
In fact, Hsiang argues that large scale conflicts – from wars to the collapse of civilizations – have taken place under the influence of climate change. He recognizes that climate shifts are not the only reason for such conflicts, but he states that climate change – which can effect agricultural production or economic stability – is usually present when violence occurs.
Hsiang’s partner, Marshall Burke, said the link between heat and violence on a smaller scale is a lot clearer.
“We also look out personal conflicts, so this is things like murders and domestic violence. So these seem to be driven by a very different mechanism. What it looks like here is that these are driven by a physiological response to increases in temperature. So you get a really hot night or a really hot day and people just freak out and do crazy things.”
“We really do have agreement that global warming is occurring. We do have agreement scientifically that that global warming is due to human activities, we have a very large basis of direct observations that have provided that evidence.”