Friday, August 2, 2013

Quantifying climate change and violence

M3 tank, training exercises, Fort Knox, Kentucky, Library of Congress, A. Palmer
If  temperature goes up 1 standard degree, person to person violence goes up 4% and group to group violence goes up 14%.
Severe rainfall events lead to similar rises in conflicts. All this according to a recent study in Science by S. M. Hsiang, M. Burke and E. Miguel  - now being widely quoted.

I like some of the specific studies noted in a recent talk by one of the authors such as -
 "Dutch police in a training exercise were more likely to shoot at a simulated intruder when randomly placed in a high temperature room (27 C / 80 F) than at lower temperature (21 C / 70 F) Vrij et al. (1994)"

"Evidence from a variety of civilizations (Maya, Angkor Wat, Chinese dynasties, Akkadian empire) that exceptionally dry and/or hot periods are associated with political collapse."
Not to mention increased horn honking with rising temperatures and the fact that I personally will be very unhappy if our trade winds ever really stop.
Seriously though - interesting paper and not surprising that climate stress translates to human stress. How we react to that stress is still ours to decide.
Into the blue - T Heckman photo
One of the better wrap ups of the research is the BBC article online:
Rise inviolence 'linked to climate change' Rebecca Morelle Science reporter, BBC World Service
For a PPt of a recent talk that two of the papers authors gave, see:
Quantifying the Impact of Climate onHuman Conflict. Marshall Burke and Edward Miguel, University of California, Berkeley. CEGA Evidence to Action Symposium –April 2013
And to get to the research article:

Quantifyingthe Influence of Climate on Human Conflict. Solomon M. Hsiang, Marshall Burke, Edward Miguel.
From the Abstract
A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. . . .Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change. Science DOI:10.1126/science.1235367

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