As if we need another worrying trend to throw into the climate change mix, but here it is anyway – there appears to be a connection between weather extremes and war.
The New Scientist reports that researchers have compared worldwide historical records on food prices, population levels and conflicts with long-term temperature records extending back to the 1400s.
It found that relatively peaceful times prevailed between the early 1700s and the early 1800s in Europe and China. When the researchers looked at temperature records, they found that this 100-year peace corresponded to a similar period of relatively warmer weather.
The 100-year warming period appears to have briefly relieved social tensions that led to conflict. But, from the early to mid-1800s, temperatures dropped again and conflict resumed.
The researchers, from universities in Britain, China and Hong Kong theorise the reason for the correlation is that cooler weather can cause food shortages, which in turn leads to conflict.
The researchers point out that while modern societies have more mechanisms to cope with food shortage problems, those mechanisms fail if society is forced to cope with a whole slew of environmental problems at the same time – a possible consequence of climate change.