Will Climate Change Make Us More Violent?

Climate change will kill us all… if we don’t kill each other first, that is. Newly published research suggests that there is a strong connection between rising temperatures and acts of violence. As such, experts fear that extreme weather conditions may amplify the rate of wars and murder in the upcoming decades.

Researchers at Princeton and University of California Berkeley concluded that human conflict increases 14% and violence rises 4% with even a modest shift in weather. They reached this determination by examining a large number of studies that scrutinized weather and violence. Any single study may be a fluke, but when nearly 200 studies demonstrated a link between rising temperatures and violent acts, it indicates a cause for concern.

On a micro level, people are more likely to honk their horns, commit domestic violence or rape, and respond physically to a tense situation when it gets hotter. On a macro level, it inspires surges in warfare and institutional violence.

It’s not just a recent phenomenon – scientists took a historical look at temperature increases, as well. The fall of most Chinese dynasties occurred during periods of unusual heat. The same goes for the Mayan civilization. Moreover, whenever El Nino appeared, civil conflicts in the countries it affected swelled.

To be clear, the various studies can only show a correlation between violence and heat, not causation. Certainly, many factors play into violent incidents; it would be naïve to say that people kill each other solely because of the weather. However, it does look like a strong possibility that the temperature can be an exacerbating factor in human conflict.

Even if you doubt the validity of the research, it’s hardly a stretch to anticipate heightened violence and strife in the face of climate change. Neglecting the apparent psychological impact of unusual weather, the impact on the food supply and the decline of natural resources is likely to result in warfare on its own. In other words, even if the heat itself doesn’t drive us into a bloodthirsty rage, the consequences of climate change may inspire this hostility anyway.

Will this finally be the study that inspires governments to tackle climate change? Given how powerful the military industrial complex is and how eager nations are to engage in war, the notion of future heightened violence is not likely to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Nonetheless, it goes to show that if humanity can’t get its act together now, we can’t expect for “cooler heads” to prevail in the face of that heat. If we continue on our current path, the question won’t be whether we’ll manage to survive, but whether we’ll exterminate ourselves before the planet does.

99 comments

Carrie-Anne Brown

thanks for sharing :)

simon short
Simon Short2 years ago

Actually, rightwing governments thrive on their peoples fighting each other.
It stops them co-operating in opposing their Masters and it's always an excellent excuse for a stronger (ie: Les communicative more violent, more top-down, more brutalised, more fascist) police force.
Best of all is when you arm the populace. They never actually form a credible threat to the armed forces of authority but they're damn good at keeping 'Liberals' in their place.
It's people co-operating with each other and making coherent protests against those in power which are the REAL problem.
See the (Real as opposed to Fox) news of almost any country in the world - notice how the 'Troublemakers' aren't armed but are actually demonstrating how very nonviolent they are - but the police are wearing armour and have every offensive weapon known to man in their armoury?
A violent poulace is a godsend to a rightwing authority.
Know what REALLY scares them?
Children, women and old people with their own minds.

Christine W.
Christine W.2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

Nils Anders Lunde
PlsNoMessage se2 years ago

Of course

Cynthia B.
cynthia AWAY b.2 years ago

yes prolonged heat makes people give in to violence. So heat coupled with lack of water and basic shelter hmm the Wild Wild West all over or Mad Max, however you relate . It will get very violent.

Cynthia F.
Cyn F.2 years ago

Interesting...something to think about. Thanks

GGma Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D.2 years ago

It isn't denying if some of us keep our heads and don't get all crazy. Myself, I believe...with some reservations. Everything we do, or don't do will have an effect. Thus the more people who change their ways, the better we can slow climate change - the key is stopping the Mega-Corps and their waste, especially Big Oil and their fracking and drilling wastes - especially the fresh water.

GGma Sheila D.
GGmaSheila D.2 years ago

Thi is something that most law enforcement officers, hospital emergency rooms, and guards have known for years. Thank you.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 2 years ago

Heat....people get testy.
Competition for resources during drought and other hard times....me first.
Moderate climates by and large historically progressive.
Equatorial climates historically often primitive and regressive.
Turn on the fan....here comes the shit! and, as we all know, when it does hit the fan, it's not evenly distributed.

Mary K.
Molly D.2 years ago

Violence.... you have not seen nothing yet. You have no idea of what is coming.