Climate change is fueling extremism, raising tempers along with temperatures
In a study published today, Climate Central researchers investigated how the risk of extremist ideology is linked to the rise in temperature.
“Climate change is fundamentally human-induced, yet it has the potential to be one of the most beneficial developments in human history,” said senior author Dr. Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. “Climate change could be helping us prepare for the 21st century by creating conditions where some of the most destructive and dangerous conflicts are possible — conflicts from Syria to the Ukraine and from Nigeria to Nigeria…”
This is the second study co-authored by IPCC lead author and New York Times editorial writer Nicholas H. Taleb. The first, “Climate Change and Extremism,” which was published in the June 2012 journal Nature, was the first to study the link between extreme weather events and the likelihood of violent conflict.
“This year’s Climate Central study is a major step forward in the analysis of violent conflict,” said Michael Mann. “It is the first to look specifically at the role of temperature, with its effect on the development of ideologies and violent behavior. The study also provides a more nuanced and broader understanding of the connection between extreme weather and conflict, since it also considers other variables, such as population and resource distributions, that play a role in these relationships. It is the first study of its kind to do so in areas of the world where no other data was available.”
While Mann noted that he was not in any way able to control for all the factors that may influence violent conflict — namely, religion, politics, wealth, and climate — he said the study makes an important contribution to a growing body of literature on the connection between weather and conflict.
“The data and methodology used in this study are solid,” said Mann. “They are based on extensive, quality, and timely data sets and they have been extensively reviewed in the literature.”
To measure the relationship between temperature and the likelihood of violent conflict, scientists analyzed conflict records from the period of