News Stories

Weather Wars in Our Future?

Climate change may be one of the most significant threats facing humankind. A new study shows that long-term climate change may ultimately lead to wars and population decline. WHY do these researchers think these things may happen??Because they happened in the past.

A new study reveals that as temperatures decreased centuries ago during a period called the Little Ice Age, the number of wars increased, famine occurred and the population declined. Researcher Peter Brecke says, "Even though temperatures are increasing now, the same resulting conflicts may occur since we still greatly depend on the land as our food source." He and his colleagues have noted a possible connection between temperature change and wars because changes in climate affect water supplies, growing seasons and land fertility, prompting food shortages. These shortages could lead to conflict?local uprisings, government destabilization and invasions from neighboring regions?and population decline due to bloodshed during the wars and starvation.

To study whether changes in temperature affected the number of wars, an international group of researchers examined the time period between 1400 and 1900 in coutries around the world. This period recorded the lowest average global temperatures around 1450, 1650 and 1820, each separated by slight warming intervals.

They collected war data from a database of 4,500 wars worldwide and also used climate change records that paleoclimatologists reconstructed by consulting historical documents and examining indicators of temperature change like tree rings, as well as oxygen isotopes in ice cores and coral skeletons.

Their results showed a cyclic pattern of turbulent periods when temperatures were low followed by tranquil ones when temperatures were higher. The number of wars per year worldwide during cold centuries was almost twice that of the mild 18th century.

Global temperatures are expected to rise in the future and the world?s growing population may be unable to adequately adapt to the ecological changes. Brecke says, "The warmer temperatures are probably good for a while, but beyond some level plants will be stressed. With more droughts and a rapidly growing population, it is going to get harder and harder to provide food for everyone and thus we should not be surprised to see more instances of starvation and probably more cases of hungry people clashing over scarce food and water."

Art credit: gimp-savvy.com

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