Science 13 September 2013:
Vol. 341 no. 6151 pp. 1235367-0
DOI:10.1126/science.1235367
Research Article

Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict

Solomon M. Hsiang, Marshall Burke, Edward Miguel | 3 Comments

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In order to establish causal relationships the standard procedure recommended by the research design authorities is a double blind randomized control design. The design of this study falls short of the holy grail of research design; however, the authors have tried very hard to eliminate or account for the proxy, mediating, and confounding variable to pave the way for a more defendable causal relationship. Nevertheless, the conclusions they draw based on the Eq 1 seems to be tenable, even if there were no direct causal relationship between climate change and human behavior.

Submitted on Fri, 01/08/2016 - 11:19

Rethinking Climatic Determinism of Conflict

Evert Van de Vliert, Ståle Einarsen and Tom Postmes

This Research Article extensively demonstrates that weather and climate demands increase the risk of many types of conflict. Nonetheless, there may be a snake in the grass because this meta-analysis explicitly builds on the field’s assumption that climatic demands only have unconditional main effects on conflict. Additionally, income per capita is not modeled for reasons based on the isomorphic assumption that income resources, too, only have unconditional main effects on conflict. The common assumptions are that climatic demands promote conflict whereas income resources promote harmony and cooperation.

An alternative assumption qualifying the existence of opposite main effects posits that climatic and income conditions influence each other’s impact on human conflict. Income resources may weaken the observed climate-conflict links, primarily through purchases of climate-compensating goods such as clothing, housing, meals, and health services; secondarily through modernization and democratization. A refined hypothesis states that conflict will be most prevalent in poor societies threatened by demanding climates, intermediately prevalent in poor and rich societies comforted by undemanding climates, and least prevalent in rich societies challenged by demanding climates.

Worldwide studies have supported this climato-economic interaction hypothesis for individual-level bullying in the workplace (Work Stress 2013, 27, 106-122), group-level discrimination of people of a different race, foreigners, homosexuals, etcetera (Behav. Brain Sci. 2013, 36, 473-475), and both press repression and autocratic governance at the national level (Behav. Brain Sci. 2012, 35, 94-95). Moreover, integration of the findings with temperature and income projections by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has produced forecasts of levels of discrimination and repression around the globe by the end of this century (Behav. Brain Sci. 2013, 36, 476-480). These scientific advancements may lead climate-conflict scholars to move away from climatic determinism toward climato-economic theory building and engineering of harmony and cooperation.

Submitted on Mon, 09/16/2013 - 04:47

The authors state, "Our conclusions from the literature are based only on those studies that implement Eq. 1 or one of the mentioned alternatives." However, Eq. 1 models conflict as some linear combination of climate variables. Should theoretical synthesis of such a complex topic be based on only one type of model? Should future research be constrained to incorporate this general model?

Submitted on Thu, 08/15/2013 - 11:46