Thursday, August 25, 2011

Climate Cycles and Civil War

Interesting piece today at NatureNews (here) reporting on a study by Princeton economist Solomon Hsiang and colleagues, who examined the link between El Niño events and civil conflicts.
The team found that the risk of annual civil conflict doubles, from 3% to 6%, in countries of the ENSO-affected, or 'teleconnected', group during El Niño years relative to La Niña years. In many cases, conflicts that might have broken out anyway may have occurred earlier owing to the effects of El Niño, Hsiang suggests.
Of course correlation is not causation, but the high level of correlation (reflected in the doubling of the risk of civil conflict) is quite impressive.

This map accompanies the Nature article:

Hsiang et al. NatureCountries where the majority of the population lives in areas that become much warmer in El Niño years (red) are more likely to experience wars than those where temperatures are less affacted (blue).

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