photo: Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team in the Central African Republic via flickr
About ten months ago a report came out claiming to link recent upsurges in African civil war to changes in climate change, and predicting that there would be 50% more conflict in the coming decades. Well, a new article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says not so fast, finding that civil wars have been declining since 2002, in track with increased prosperity. Report author Halvard Buhaug from the Peace Research Institute in Norway, takes issue with the definition used of conflict. Rather than defining it, calling it civil war, when more than 1000 people die in intra-national fighting, a better method is to look at when outbreaks of hostilities resulting in more than 25 people being killed. Doing so, the report found no significant association with higher temperatures.
The authors of the report correlating civil war and higher temperatures say they have redone their calculations, which previously covered 1981-2002 and now include data up through 2008, and did not find the same correlation with temperature.
Will Future Conflict Follow Same Pattern as Past?
So, the conflict in Africa over the past three decades doesn't appear to be linked with global warming, but the open question is what sort of future effect on conflict there will be. While perhaps not as severe as a 50% increase by 2030, I would be surprised if changing precipitation patterns and temperatures don't result in significant stress on agriculture, water supply, animals, even if it doesn't move in lock-step with temperature increases and doesn't always result in outright warfare.
Read the original: Climate not to blame for African civil wars
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More on Global Warming Effects:
50% More Civil War in Africa by 2030... Thanks to Climate Change
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