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Earth Science

A Climate of Violence? 184

Posted by Soulskill
from the venus-must-be-a-postapocalyptic-hellscape dept.
Rambo Tribble writes "U.S. researchers have come to the conclusion that a changing climate can drive increased violence in human society. Their findings are to reported in Science (abstract). 'They report a "substantial" correlation between climate and conflict. Their examples include an increase in domestic violence in India during recent droughts, and a spike in assaults, rapes and murders during heatwaves in the U.S. The report also suggests rising temperatures correlated with larger conflicts, including ethnic clashes in Europe and civil wars in Africa.' Marshall Burke, one of the authors, said, 'This is a relationship we observe across time and across all major continents around the world. The relationship we find between these climate variables and conflict outcomes are often very large.' Add this to the developing scarcity of water due to global warming and the prospects for a peaceful future do not bode well."
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A Climate of Violence?

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  • by mozumder (178398)

    That temperature affects violence, according to many studies?

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2011/07/hot-weather-violence/ [wired.com]

    Solution: move everyone to cold places!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's bull shit, we should stomp that fucker before it gets too cold to go outside.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by thisisnotreal (888437)
      this is why canada is so nice!
    • So, more violence in hot drought-prone areas.

      Less suicide in cold places.

      Sounds like a wash.

      • by Type44Q (1233630)
        Actually, I seem to recall that there are slightly higher suicide rates in Scandinavia, although quality of life measures higher as well (this leaving me to conclude that the more people off themselves, the happier everyone still left becomes...). Stayed tuned for how this ties in with temperatures; I'll think of something...
        • by arth1 (260657)

          As far as I know, the suicide rates are only higher in the far north of Scandinavia, like north of the polar circle, where they don't see the sun at all for parts of the year.

  • Stereotypes (Score:5, Funny)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#44457397) Homepage Journal

    Can't this explain the South and the Middle East all in one fell swoop?

    Yes it can! But only if you're willing to be intellectually lazy and refuse to acknowledge multi-input systems. Today, I'm feeling exactly that lazy.

  • So if a mega blizzard struck on the next winter, leaving thousands isolated and on short supplies... they will be chanting "peace and love"?

    Maybe the correlation can be explained just by time: there are social factors that are leading to increasingly more violent societies (e.g. increasing awareness of social rights).

    • Re:Weird (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lendrick (314723) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:33AM (#44457637) Homepage Journal

      Probably not.

      Most likely it's notjust heat so much as deviation from what people find the most comfortable.

      • Re: Weird (Score:2, Informative)

        by O('_')O_Bush (1162487)
        I would agree with this. Something else that tends to happen (super unsubstantiated blanket anecdote) is that people tend to drink more hard liquor in the cold, because it warms the body (feeling). That also increases rates of domestic violence and rape.

        I am also growing weary of all the doom saying. I acknowledge that AGW is a serious problem that needs to be solved ASAP, but there are also many positive benefits to a warmer climate (such as extended growing seasons in the world's breadbasket zones, and ex
    • Wouldn't the megablizzard fall into Climate Change or are you making the common mistake to assume that climate change just means higher temperatures?

      • Wouldn't the megablizzard fall into Climate Change

        No, it would fall under "weather".

        Now, the weather we have may be a result of climate change (or not), but no single weather event is "proof positive of climate change!!!", no matter how many times people say it....

        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          Weather is to climate as a single roll of dice is to the statistics of thousands of rolls of the dice. Climate change/global warming is like subtly loading the dice so it skews the statistical average toward the higher end. That doesn't mean the lower end things can't happen, just that they will become less common on average.

        • Megablizzard to me implies a "once in a century" type storm. When you get have several of these "once in a century" storms and you tie it together with the "once in a century droughts" and the overall higher global temperatures you start evaluating what is causation and what is coincidence.

      • by TWiTfan (2887093)

        Wouldn't the megablizzard fall into Climate Change or are you making the common mistake to assume that climate change just means higher temperatures?

        Yeah, apparently he hasn't heard that ALL weather is proof of global warming now! Drought, flooding, too hot, too cold, blizzard, too many tornadoes, not enough tornadoes, mild weather, extreme weather--it's all PROOF of global warming!!!

        It's kind of like God. Cancer kid lives, it's a miracle from God! Cancer kid dies, well God works in mysterious ways.

        • Yes. Extreme weather is evidence towards climate change.

          I'll leave the God discussion to you and the other flat-earthers.

    • by jamesh (87723)

      So if a mega blizzard struck on the next winter, leaving thousands isolated and on short supplies... they will be chanting "peace and love"?

      Maybe the correlation can be explained just by time: there are social factors that are leading to increasingly more violent societies (e.g. increasing awareness of social rights).

      They'll all be huddling together for warmth, instead of walking around thinking "next fucker that says 'hot enough for you' is going to find his brains on the floor".

    • "megablizzard versus (fill in the blank)".
      Sounds like a Syfy movie of the week.

  • facepalm....
    • Really, doesn't only the "F" part apply to this kind of lazy analysis? It doesn't cast uncertainty or doubt on things in order to reinforce the de-facto standard. Kind of a misapplication.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:21AM (#44457413)

    Just like anything else that causes stress, it causes people to get upset and lash out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Mashiki (184564)

      Seems like there's a market there. "Anti-stress" now we shall export cats, and said cats will be highly trained. Anyone who doesn't anti-stress, will be removed by said highly trained attack cat.

    • by Idbar (1034346)

      This.

      Wondered why nobody posted the classic "Correlation is not causation". There may be many interpretations.

      For example, economy is taking a downturn and affecting many people. The middle class gap is stretching out. There's more people, less jobs, wealth badly distributed and the bills don't go away but on the contrary just increase. So according to this quick analysis, I can claim the issue is not climate but distribution of wealth, which causes more stress on the different social classes due to the eve

  • No shit. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:23AM (#44457441)

    Besides the fact that the DoD already incorporates climate change in their threat assessments (see http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/green_energy/dod_sustainability/2012/Appendix%20A%20-%20DoD%20Climate%20Change%20Adaption%20Roadmap_20120918.pdf [osd.mil] and http://www.acq.osd.mil/ie/download/green_energy/dod_sustainability/2012/Appendix%20A%20-%20DoD%20Climate%20Change%20Adaption%20Roadmap_20120918.pdf [osd.mil]), there's the bleedingly obvious conclusion that if an area goes through enough environmental changes that mass migration is better than staying put, conflict with the surrounding areas is guaranteed.

    I mean, when New Orleans was evacuated during Katrina, that already sparked enough conflict. Now imagine that the change is permanent and that it's not just a major city evacuating, but an entire geographical area. We'll find out just how far we have evolved from chimps (hint: not very much).

    • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:45AM (#44457807)

      New Orleans had to be evacuated in days.

      With climate change, you are talking about sea levels rising an inch or two per DECADE. Or heat / cold profiles of an area changing also over decades. Plenty of time for people to move on if they decide they don't like whatever changes are occurring.

      But most people will stay, no matter what particular climate you find "unlivable" you'll find plenty of people already living in those conditions...

  • What? (Score:4, Informative)

    by tyroneking (258793) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:23AM (#44457453)

    I think either the BBC article or the /. summary is incorrect. It's well known /damn obvious that extreme climactic events cause violence in society. What's new is that they can correlate with numbers, "for each 1 standard deviation (1) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%." The /. summary is misleading and could cause the casual reader to pass by the article because it seems over obvious.

    • Headlines, abstracts, and conclusions in scientific papers are often exaggerated or incorrect, for various reasons. Then news stories about those papers are even more incorrect, for other reasons.

      In this paper, the statistics are so tricky, that it's dangerous to draw any conclusions without reading the paper (and I haven't gotten my science magazine yet for this week). The results could change drastically depending on how you define 'extreme rainfall,' for example.

      A question I would really like to see
      • That's a good question about armies not fighting in the winter - I thought it was because of military strategy training that should surely point to the failures of the French and German armies when facing foes during the winter.

        • Yeah, and even if they are willing to fight and win, most armies are going to have their mobility limited at least a little from snow, and their supply chain complicated.
          • Yes, certainly if they are the invading force and they have lengthened supply lines anyway. Interesting actually, what will happen when global warming flips the switch and parts of the world are dropped into permanent winter; will the US be as dominant in the new ice age?

          • by riverat1 (1048260)

            Yeah, Napoleon found that out.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Its a meta-analysis.The validity of results depend upon there being no bias towards publishing papers that find a certain relationship between climate and violence. I tend to doubt this is the case, especially in a field as politically charged as climate science. The work is still interesting but the confidence of the authors is unwarranted due to the well know publication bias "explanation" for the effect. They have a section addressing this but it includes some ad hoc claims (exactly how to address public

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by s.petry (762400)

          Finally just from a philosophy of science perspective they have no underlying theory to predict a certain relationship between climate change and human activity.

          This is not a new phenomenon with this paper, but perhaps it's more obvious. 99% of the Climate papers that make it to the public fail to deal with the underlying cause (Pollution). The argument in the 70s was exactly pollution (see CFC bans, CO2 scrubbing, etc..), and in the 90s the argument was renamed to ensure maximum profits for polluters. In addition, regulations put in place in the 70s were dismantled and government oversight started slipping away.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by Sponge Bath (413667) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:24AM (#44457463)
    It's not the heat, it's the humanity.
  • Now I know why I punch my air conditioner when it's not working!
  • I guess this is why hot, sunny and sweltery northern Ireland has had such a violent past...oh wait, it's freezing cold and pisses with rain most of the time.

    How strong is the correlation?

    • A counter example doesn't remove the correlation. Outliers always exist. There can be all sorts of violent cold places, but if warm places are more often violent (with an appropriately small p) the stats hold up.

    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      The findings were related to changes in weather patterns: an unusually hot summer, drought, things like that. The study didn't seem to draw any conclusions about average climate vs. violence, but about deviation from average climate vs. violence. So, if Ireland gets a particularly warm summer, violence and crime are likely to go up.

    • by timeOday (582209)
      Does Ireland actually have a violent past / present? I think not. It has a persistent a low level of violence that is politically motivated. The murder rate is 1/4 of the US, i.e. 1/37 of Venezuela or 1/76 of Honduras . Between 1000 and 3000 people died in the civil war, a century ago. During the 40 year period of The Troubles, 3500 people died, including combatants, on both sides - under 100 per year on average. Maybe Ireland seems violent because it's in such a quiet neighborhood.
  • Change increases violence....

  • by Salgak1 (20136) <salgak@sLIONpeakeasy.net minus cat> on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:27AM (#44457521) Homepage
    . . . . is there ANYTHING it can't do ???
  • RTFA (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schneidafunk (795759) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:28AM (#44457537)
    The last paragraphs are a pretty strong refutation:

    Instead, Dr Halvard Buhaug, from the Peace Research Institute Oslo, Norway, concluded that the conflict was linked to other factors such as high infant mortality, proximity to international borders and high local population density.

    Commenting on the latest research, he said: "I disagree with the sweeping conclusion (the authors) draw and believe that their strong statement about a general causal link between climate and conflict is unwarranted by the empirical analysis that they provide.

    "I was surprised to see not a single reference to a real-world conflict that plausibly would not have occurred in the absence of observed climatic extremes. If the authors wish to claim a strong causal link, providing some form of case validation is critical."
  • I heard about a similar study a decade ago ... and because someone has to say it ... correlation != causation.
    • When I was a kid, I heard that Nostradamus sorta predicted the world wars ("Hissler" did the second one). For the unknown future, he wrote something about a 3rd world war, then a drought, followed by an eerily worded "everlasting peace".

      But I have no citations.

  • by cold fjord (826450) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:31AM (#44457591)

    Now what is all the fuss about climate change causing violets? I happen to think that violets are a lovely flower, and there should be more of them. In fact I think the world would be a more beautiful and peaceful place if there were more violets. More violets would mean more good jobs and satisfying work .... Eh?..... Just a minute ......

    I have just been informed that climate change may cause more violence. Well then... never mind.

    It was an homage. [dailymotion.com]

  • by Tony Isaac (1301187) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:33AM (#44457641) Homepage

    In the US, violent crime rates have been decreasing for decades, while temperatures have been breaking records.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/table-1 [fbi.gov]

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Yeah, I live in Oklahoma and that trend jives with the statistics that the OSBI published. In the previous 4 years, we've had record high temperatures and drought across the state and yet the statistics on violent crime follows the federal trend of decreasing rates.

      http://www.ok.gov/osbi/Publications/Crime_Statistics.html

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The authors didn't say that increasing temperature was the only factor involved.

      Unless one is completely brain-dead, one can see that things like population age distribution, better/worse social safety net, more/less income disparity, economic opportunity, political oppression, etc., also have an impact on interpersonal and cross-group violence. The surprising thing about the study is that it shows that the correlation is so great.

      Therefore, climate change deniers must discount and mock the article because

  • This is the only real reason I can think of for the NSA program spying on Americans. They think things are going to get very ugly. Very ugly.

    If you *really* care about freedom and civil liberties and don't just enjoy getting apoplectic over those *ideas* , you might want to consider doing everything you can to make sure the environmental preques for those things continues to viable. No food, no liberty. Trust me.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does it apply here?

    • by Holi (250190)

      Correlation does not always imply causation, but it sometimes can.

    • by riverat1 (1048260)

      Correlation is not automatically causation but often it's a big hint about where you need to look for causation.

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:40AM (#44457735)

    Rising temperatures means you can grow more crops in northern lands. Over all it means more total arable land, not less. It also means a more hospitable climate to live in up north so it's not like you lose livable habitat either, that also expands.

    Thus the whole basis of the claim the article makes is nonsense.

    • by Holi (250190)

      Unless you are growing crops that thrive in the northern latitudes. Then the rising temps damage your crops and you have to figure out what crops you can now grow. It also can mean that the quantity of arable land declines due to lack of water. As the breadbelt heats up and since we have already used a lot of the available water we could lose a large section of our agriculture. Drought and depleted aquifers are our biggest threat when it comes to food production and rising temperatures do nothing to help th

      • Drought and depleted aquifers are our biggest threat when it comes to food production and rising temperatures do nothing to help that situation out.

        It just means adjustment of where you grow, and the lands potentially opening up for growing food are a lot wider than the lands lost.

        Drought is less common if the seas really rise and the earth warms, because it means more water vapor entering the atmosphere. Cooling is what removes water from the ecosystem, not warming.

    • I suppose you've seen this already and simply chose to ignore it:

      http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-positives-negatives-intermediate.htm [skepticalscience.com]

  • "a spike in assaults, rapes and murders during heatwaves"
    Ummm it's way too hot outside to assault, rape, or murder anyone actually. This cannot be a correct correlation.
  • by Silvrmane (773720) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:43AM (#44457777) Homepage
    This has to be one of the more ridiculous claims to come out of the alarmosphere about climate change I've ever heard. There's a cool list of things that are supposed to be attributable to climate change (according to the alarmists): http://blog.heritage.org/2009/11/17/global-warming-ate-my-homework-100-things-blamed-on-global-warming/ [heritage.org] . I guess we can add this to the list.
    • Don't forget increasing the chance of asteroid impacts [newsbusters.org], that wasn't on the list.

    • by tgd (2822) on Friday August 02, 2013 @12:39PM (#44458589)

      This has to be one of the more ridiculous claims to come out of the alarmosphere about climate change I've ever heard. There's a cool list of things that are supposed to be attributable to climate change (according to the alarmists): http://blog.heritage.org/2009/11/17/global-warming-ate-my-homework-100-things-blamed-on-global-warming/ [heritage.org] . I guess we can add this to the list.

      Urban climatology and the sociological (health/violence/etc) are a significant area of research these days. Its not a ridiculous claim, its an important area of research because there are significant changes happening, particularly around public health. I haven't gone through this in any detail -- the study could be junk, but dismissing this area of research out of hand is actually dismissing one of the most near-term impacts of shifting climates. It'll be a long time until NYC is underwater, but the southwest is already showing public health changes because of increased heat and humidity. And those changes impact everyone, because the people least able to handle the changes are the people who tend to have their healthcare paid for by public sources.

      And, for what its worth, I'm so hot today I could punch someone.

    • It's funny. You think this is "ridiculous", while half the other people commenting on this story are saying, "Duh! Isn't that obvious?" I'm with them. If a drought causes the food supply in your area to collapse, how would that not lead to conflict?

      Whether you think something is ridiculous is completely irrelevant. What matters is whether it's true. And that needs to be decided based on evidence, not your gut reaction about whether it's ridiculous.

  • Shakespear (Score:3, Interesting)

    by NaiveBayes (2008210) on Friday August 02, 2013 @11:49AM (#44457869)
    "I pray thee, good Mercutio, let's retire. The day is hot; the Capulets, abroad; And if we meet we shall not 'scape a brawl, For now, these hot days, is the mad blood stirring." - Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1, right before a massive and fatal fight.
  • The science is clear: Climate crisis is coming; We're making it happen; Onset may take only decades from now. Desertification, devastation to agriculture, habitat loss, ocean damage, increasing competition for resources, violence (and quite possibly wars), and billions of human fatalities. We choose to put CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. We superstitiously reject the technology which has the most power to save us: nuclear energy. Nuclear energy emits no greenhouse gas. Nuclear "waste" is a fallacy; cur
  • by Murdoch5 (1563847)
    Again another great reason why we can blame everyone and everything else and never ourselves. The increase in violence is because people don't want to "display" self control. It could be 100 degree's C and that doesn't mean you can go rape someone. You're just are responsible at 20 degree's C as you are at 100, science just wants to give you away out of being responsible for your actions. I will love the day when a new survey finds that people who want a scapegoat use surveys like this to justify why t
  • "I was surprised to see not a single reference to a real-world conflict that plausibly would not have occurred in the absence of observed climatic extremes. If the authors wish to claim a strong causal link, providing some form of case validation is critical."

    Global Climate change is a serious issue, but 'science' like this only strengthens the opposition to any real change. Once again, climate 'science' is now just fear mongering. Way to go!

  • Its just neat how science can make up all sorts of reasons why people do the voodoo they do and completely ignore the most basic one; choice.
  • "Sorry it was hot out and I don't have AC, please refer to the following studies stating it was not my fault"

  • So by this logic then, it makes sense because WW2 started in the tropics and desert! (Oh wait, no it didn't.)

    Well, WW1 then certainly? ...ah, no.

  • Maybe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by no-body (127863)
    The violence is not directly caused by global warming but by the conditions to lead to global warming and social injustice across the planet making people angry.

    I mean, global warming and the causes - insensitiveness to that issue, isn't the same callousness cause for increasing accumulation of wealth and power to less and less individuals on the top of the pyramid, depriving the increasingly larger lower parts of basic necessities? Just look at US "minimum wage" not covering basic living expenses at full
    • Just look at US "minimum wage" not covering basic living expenses at full hour work week?

      The average household income of someone making minimum wage is $57k.

      Think of that whenever you find someone trying to support their point with statistics.

      • by no-body (127863)

        Just look at US "minimum wage" not covering basic living expenses at full hour work week?

        The average household income of someone making minimum wage is $57k. Think of that whenever you find someone trying to support their point with statistics.

        Source please and area where this happens, maybe NY - anyone can claim that sky is green

  • So, crime should be falling in the U.S. Midwest, right, since it's August and only in the 70s?
  • Watch it - everybody is sweating all the time, everybody is aggressive. A movie about Global Warming.

  • Just a guess, but it might not be

    climate change -> violence

    so much as:

    climate change -> ecological disaster -> famine -> poverty -> desperation -> violence

  • > "Add this to the developing scarcity of water due to global warming and the prospects for a peaceful future do not bode well."

    "The short period of relative peace in a small section of human society won't last much longer into the future."

    FTFY.

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