Some of the effects of a changing climate on the planet are pretty obvious – crop damage, higher energy bills and lower standards of living. One consequence that might not be so obvious to many is the resulting violent conflicts. A bad situation will lead to worse situations.

Shifts in climate are strongly linked to increases in violence around the world, a study suggests. US scientists found that even small changes in temperature or rainfall correlated with a rise in assaults, rapes and murders, as well as group conflicts and war.

The team says with the current projected levels of climate change, the world is likely to become a more violent place.

The study, called Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict, reports a “substantial” correlation between climate and violent conflict. From the study:

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. We find strong causal evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world.

The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: 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%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2 to 4? by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.

An example to use might be the genocide in Darfur where conflicts over water access led to violence. A different climate will provoke similar conflicts across the world causing disruptions in food, water, and other resources. The resource disruptions could trigger violent conflict among historic adversaries that remained dormant in less turbulent times.

The study would seem to make yet another compelling argument to do something about climate change. Though as long as prominent Senators still think it’s all a hoax, the only thing changing is the climate.

Image from Calton under public domain.

Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.