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Rising temperatures – what impact on armed conflict?

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, December 24th, 2009 - 15 comments
Categories: climate change - Tags:

Reproduced with permission from Kotare – The Strategist

This is the unspoken issue with climate change. What are the human impacts of climate change. Where will the wars happen?

This study (h/t Crikey Creek) looks at the likely impact that rising temperatures, caused by climate change, will have on armed conflict in sub-Saharan Africa…

“this historical response to temperature suggests a roughly 54% increase in armed conflict incidence by 2030, or an additional 393,000 battle deaths if future wars are as deadly as recent wars.”

Interesting, but what’s the point? The study would be more useful if it examined the impact of rising temperatures on urban crime and violence in New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai. Or if it looked at how reduced rainfall will affect water availability and relations between farmers and communities in the agricultural regions of the west and China.

In these places, loads of people think that climate change won’t affect them. Only poor sods in far-off Chad, Ethiopia and Bangladesh should be worried about climate change, right? People don’t realize that climate change is a problem for everyone, and so no-one demands that politicians cut carbon emissions to safeguard their future homes, livelihoods, food supplies and security.

This lets politicians off the hook, and so they continue to do nothing.

15 comments on “Rising temperatures – what impact on armed conflict? ”

  1. jcuknz 1

    As I see the problem for the politicians is the question as to which is worse … the results of disrupting the ecconomy by taking measures against the disruption caused by nature.

    • lprent 1.1

      The disruption isn’t going to be caused by ‘nature’. It is caused by exhausts from burning fossil fuels. The science is unambiguous on that.

      The question is really if it will cost more to mitigate the issue now, rather than to adapt to the chaos that will inevitably result as people start to starve or have vast population moves from climate shifts. That will inevitably cause conflicts at various levels. Conflict is very expensive – just look at the US bleeding itself dry in Iraq and Afghanistan.

  2. Ag 2

    Meanwhile, the pro-AGW side continue to pursue their failed strategy of persuasion.

    Wake up. Democracy can’t solve this problem.

  3. The study would be more useful if it examined the impact of rising temperatures on urban crime and violence in New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai.

    Define “useful.” The difference between this kind of old cobblers and science fiction is that SF authors don’t pretend their thoughts about what might happen in the future reflect what’s actually going to happen.

    Re the impact of climate change on Africa, it will very distantly trail a field consisting of the impacts of corruption, warfare, bad governance and trying to attain Western levels of population density while engaging in subsistance agriculture.

    • theaveragekeywi 3.1

      many of which are a legacy of Colonialism, the Cold War, IMF/World Bank loans (thinking of corruption mostly here), and the impact of western (and now also Chinese) oil companies. – assuming you didn’t have time to add this in to your comment

    • I didn’t add them because they aren’t relevant. Climate change will have a minimal impact on Africa in relative terms, and if our proposed solution is to hand over cash to the very people currently responsible for the corruption, bad governance etc that are having and will continue to have the most impact, it’s a really, really crap solution and we shouldn’t adopt it.

      • lprent 3.2.1

        Ah no. Africa will have major climate changes because of the way that it spans the equator at the tropics without buffering seas. I have no idea of what the effects will be (because I haven’t looked at that), but they will be extreme. It always is in Africa during the geological record when there is climate change. Quite simply it flips from excessively wet to excessively dry with quite small climate shifts.

      • lprent 3.2.2

        Try http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/629/629/6528979.stm
        This is summarized from the 2007 IPPC AR4 report and is based on projection of the 1-2C increase over the next century. Based on the politics here and at Copenhagen, plus the updated science, I’d pick us getting there in the next couple of decades.

      • Psycho Milt 3.2.3

        Sorry, wasn’t clear – by “relative terms” I meant relative to the impact of stuff like warfare, corruption, bad governance and trying to grow the population while remaining on subsistence agriculture. If the computer models predicting climate change effects are correct (a very big if), then yes no doubt Africa will have major climate change – but it doesn’t count for much compared to the shit that’s already happening there and is having major effects right now, and that doesn’t rely on us accepting predictions based on dubious computer modelling. Bottom line: the govt of Sudan can quack on about “rich countries” subjecting Africa to a holocaust all it likes, but if you live in Darfur right now it ain’t climate change that’s looking like a holocaust.

        • lprent 3.2.3.1

          You forgot the HIV epidemic in Africa which pretty well dwarfs all of those at every level. In a lot of regions of Africa it is becoming a grandparent culture because the parents of have died from aids, leaving their kids to grow up with grandparents.

          You’re equating the Sudan with all of the countries in Africa – which isn’t particularly correct. Most of the countries have been improving a lot over the last couple of decades compared to where they were immediately after independence.

          The problem is that the climate shifts are quite likely to destabilize those to conditions like the Sudan.

          However this is likely to be less of a problem than what happens on the Indian sub-continent or in the mid-west US dustbowl.

          • Bob 3.2.3.1.1

            “Most of the countries have been improving a lot over the last couple of decades compared to where they were immediately after independence. ”

            I would be very interested to know which nations these are, (especially since you claim the majority are), and by what yardstick you are measuring improvement. Please feel free to provide some facts.

  4. NickS 4

    Interesting, but what’s the point? The study would be more useful if it examined the impact of rising temperatures on urban crime and violence in New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai.Or if it looked at how reduced rainfall will affect water availability and relations between farmers and communities in the agricultural regions of the west and China.

    /facepalm

    Yes, because further understanding and predicting how climate change may impact on political stability in already low-stability nations in Africa, and thus potential economic, political and social impacts on neighboring states and ultimately refugee flows inside Africa and so to the likes of the EU and other places is a bad thing.

    And the impacts of climate change in China are probably covered by Chinese government research, some of which is probably in english and with the right search terms + google scholar should be that hard to find. Where as violence + heat waves is also probably in the literature, I think. i.e. learn to f*cking google, primarily learn to use google scholar before complaining about a hole in the literature.

  5. Had the study been of the possible effects of GW on crime etc. in big western cities some bright spark would have complained that the effects of GW on sub-Saharan Africa are likely to be more devastating in human terms, so why aren’t we studying that.

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