Increasing Human Violence Linked to Rising Temperatures of Earth: Study

The economists from University of California explained that there was inter-relation between human conflict and climate change.

Created On: Aug 3, 2013 13:07 ISTModified On: Aug 3, 2013 13:07 IST

The economists from Environmental and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley explained about the inter-relation between human conflict and climate change. A recent study released on 1 August 2013 revealed that there was a strong and positive correlation between the human violence and rising temperatures of Earth because of climate change. The study was published in Science. The study tracked human conflicts, climate change and the relationship between the two since 8000 BC.

The economists conducting the study explained that there was no explanation of this relation, but it was speculated that the factors which associate climate to the well being of humans, could be responsible for more aggression, which comes out in the form of more violent kinds of rapes and blaring horns.

Edward Miguel, Oxfam Professor of Environmental and Resource Economics, University of California, Berkeley, one among the authors of the study, gave an example that when the climate gets hotter, the neurophysiology of the humans, changes and this inclines them further to violence.

The findings are important for analysing the impact of climate change in future, on the societies. It is important to note that various global climate models forecast the increase in temperatures of at least 2 degrees Celsius over the time period of next 50 years.

The study explained that, “for every 1 standard deviation change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4 per cent and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14 per cent.”

This indicated that an increase in the world temperature by 2 degrees Celsius would also increase the rate of intergroup conflicts like civil wars, by more than 50 percent in different parts of the world. The tropical regions are the ones where conflicts like these will become more common, by the year 2050.

This was the comprehensive study which showed that there was strong evidence about link between more violence and climate change. The economists concluded that there was a robust connection between the violence and the climate, at the different scales and time periods, all over the world. In the study, the data from various regions of the world were studied, and similar kind of patterns of conflicts was associated with the climate changes such as higher than the average yearly temperature and enhanced drought.

Economists explained that this scenario could also be linked to agriculture, where the economies are primarily agrarian. In less developed countries, where major portion of the population is dependent upon their farms for food, extreme rainfall or high temperatures can hamper their crops and lead to considerable drop in income, thereby leading to violence.

Certain examples of these are more number of murders and assaults in Tanzania and US, domestic violence in Australia and India, land invasions in Brazil, ethnic violence in South Asia and Europe, collapse of Chinese and Mayan empires, civil conflicts in tropics as well as increased use of police force in Holland.

The study made use of 45 datasets (from the 60 studies) in order to examine things. The datasets were based on various subjects such as psychology, political science, history, geography, economics, criminology and archeology. These datasets were subjected to rigorous statistical method known as regression framework. This accounted for time as well as space in the systematic way, which explained the correlation between climate variables and conflicts.

Considering the study, the environmentalists explained that this was another reason why serious steps should be taken for dealing with future climate change.

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