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September 16, 2013

Climate change aspect – research reveals that heat can induce violence

A strong link between higher temperatures and violence has led researchers to assert climate change will induce more human conflict even in the absence of resource scarcity.

But the study itself has created its own heated controversy. Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict found strong evidence linking climatic events to human conflict across a range of time periods and across all major regions of the world.

violence gun mask

What’s more, the magnitude of the influence on behaviour was substantial:  a rise in average temperatures of a few degrees led to a 4 per cent rise in interpersonal violence, and a 14 per cent rise in intergroup conflict.

Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm by more than this by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of human-induced climate change, the authors said.

The paper lead by the University of California’s Soloman Hsiang, analysed 60 of the most rigorous studies from a diverse range of fields including archaeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology.

But of course when it comes to scientific studies about climate change and its implications, there is plenty of disagreement. The paper itself has managed to produce affair bit of debate and hot air.

Criticisms were leveled at the paper for selectively choosing the studies it examined, only choosing those supporting its final conclusions.

Other criticisms suggested the authors were drawing a long bow by using previous studies mainly about weather or short-term changes in temperature, but then using these to make conclusions on long-term events like climate change.

Others still criticised the authors for not taking into account humans’ ability to react and adapt to changes in weather; and overtime learn how to cope with gradually increasing temperatures.

violence cannon

The authors have rebuked all these claims, and have done so in a way that is not aimed at cooling the debate. A report noted that the authors say they are not trying to pick fights, but go ahead and use strong language anyway. The authors apparently said in a statement: “The handful of climate/conflict sceptics have garnered a lot of press by very publicly disagreeing with our findings and this has presumably been good for their careers”.

And so the debate rages on.

But why do we get angrier in the heat even though we tend to get more lethargic as it hots up? Apparently, this is just how it seems on the outside. Internally our bodies are under stress as we become dehydrated.

So if something does tick us off we are already half-way to being angry without realising it.

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