The Conversation: Climate Change NOT a Key Cause of Third World Conflict

This image shows women collecting water at a well in rural Burkina Faso, West Africa. CREDIT Kathryn Grace

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The Conversation has published details of a study which casts doubt on the climate change = conflict narrative. The main cause of conflict turns out to be the failure of political systems.

Climate change is not a key cause of conflict, finds new study

April 24, 2018 11.21pm AEST

“The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis”, wrote the then-UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon back in 2007, about an ongoing war which arose, he said, “at least in part from climate change”. Since then the idea that climate change has caused and will cause human conflict and mass migrations has become more and more accepted – just look at the claimed effects of droughts in Syria and Ethiopia.

To test the climate-conflict hypothesis, Erin and I therefore focused on the ten main countries in East Africa. We used a new database that records major episodes of political violence and number of total displaced people for the past 50 years for each of the ten countries. We then statistically compared these records both at a country and a regional level with the appropriate climatic, economic and political indicators. 

Lower levels of conflict are associated with economic growth and stable politics.

We found that climate variations such as regional drought and global temperature did not significantly impact the level of regional conflict or the number of total displaced people. The major driving forces on conflict were rapid population growth, reduced or negative economic growth and instability of political regimes. Numbers of total displaced people were linked to rapid population growth and low or stagnating economic growth.

Things were different for “refugees”, however – those displaced people who were forced to cross borders between countries. Refugee numbers were related to the usual demographic and socio-economic factors. But in contrast to total displaced people and occurrence of conflict, variations in refugee numbers were found to be related significantly to the incidence of severe regional droughts. And these droughts can in turn be linked to a long-term drying trend ascribed to anthropogenic climate change.

However, it is important to consider the counterfactual: had there been slower population growth, stronger economies and more stable political regimes, would these droughts still have led to more refugees? That’s beyond the scope of our study, which may not be a definitive test of the links between climate change and conflict. But the occurrence of peaks in both conflict and displaced people in the 1980s and 1990s across East Africa suggest that decolonisation and the end of the Cold War could have been key issues.

What our study suggests is the failure of political systems is the primary cause of conflict and displacement of large numbers of people. We also demonstrate that within socially and geopolitically fragile systems, climate change may potentially exacerbate the situation particularly with regards to enforced migration.

Read more: https://theconversation.com/climate-change-is-not-a-key-cause-of-conflict-finds-new-study-94331

The abstract of the study;

Assessing the relative contribution of economic, political and environmental factors on past conflict and the displacement of people in East Africa

Erin Llwyd Owain & Mark Andrew Maslin

According to the UN Refugee Agency in 2016 there were over 20 million displaced people in Africa. There is considerable debate whether climate change will exacerbate this situation in the future by increasing conflict and thus displacement of people. To explore this climate-conflict-refugee nexus this study analyses whether climatic changes between 1963 and 2014 impacted the risk of conflict and displacement of people in East Africa. A new composite conflict database recording major episodes of political violence (MEPV) was compared with climatic, economic and political indicators using optimisation regression modelling. This study found that climate variations as recorded by the Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI) and the global temperature record did not significantly impact the level of regional conflict or the number of total displaced people (TDP). The major driving forces on the level of conflict were population growth, economic growth and the relative stability of the political regimes. Numbers of TDP seemed to be linked to population and economic growth. Within TDP, ‘refugees’ were recorded as people that were forced to cross borders between countries. In contrast to TDP and conflict, variations in refugee numbers were found to be significantly related to climatic variations as well as political stability, population and economic growth. This study suggests that climate variations played little or no part in the causation of conflict and displacement of people in East Africa over the last 50 years. Instead, we suggest rapid population growth, low or falling economic growth and political instability during the post-colonial transition were the more important controls. Nonetheless, during this period this study does shows that severe droughts were a contributing driver of refugees crossing international borders. This study demonstrates that within socially and geo-politically fragile systems, climate change may potentially exacerbate the situation particularly with regards to enforced migration.

Read more: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41599-018-0096-6

The main study also notes that some studies suggest the risk of conflict seems higher in ethnically fractionalised countries, countries where distinct ethnic groups have separate cultures and don’t mix very much, where the sense of shared national values is weak.

There have been a few surprise posts like this popping up in unexpected places like The Conversation recently, hopefully a sign that mainstream media acceptance of claims that official climate pronouncements are beyond question or doubt is wearing thin.

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Craig

A leftist leaning progressive website. There was a topic on global warming many years ago and I pointed out the LIA and MWP and did I cop it. The ferals came out of the woodwork and basically hounded me off the comments section to the point where there were commenters asking the mods for my banning. The name calling and threats to my well being was a disgrace. A pigsty of a website.

thingodonta

It’s a ‘conversation’ between like-minded academic socialists. Nobody else is usually invited.
Jo Nova also pointed out to them once that they stated the authors had ‘no conflict of interest’ to report, when their research funding is dependent and determined university grants which is a potential conflict of interest, so they did indeed change the wording to something like ‘author is funded by the XYZ academic grant’.
I think I also did see an article on the non replication problem in modern science journals, which is a start.

Hugs

Didn’t you get the memo? The so called mediaeval climatic optimum was not globally synchronous, thus, it didn’t happen, thus anybody mentioning it is a stupid layman, thus may be rightfully called names and banned for replying.
My own opinion is that the eagerness to deny MWP is clearly organized and ideological. But, I’d not put that much value on MWP itself. I think more important is that from a local viewpoint, climate changes a lot more than what the global values change.
The Conversation, if anything, is not about conversation in the comments. There are very few places where the comment section is of high quality. Trollers, name-callers (just look at Dr Spencer’s site), like-minded yesmen, Dunning-Krugers, they herd the comment sections almost everywhere.
And remember, almost everywhere means 100% in the topological sense.

Ben of Houston

I’ll confess, even here, the comments drift down in quality from time to time. Anytime someone’s name has become a byword, we as a community have failed.

TA

“My own opinion is that the eagerness to deny MWP is clearly organized and ideological. But, I’d not put that much value on MWP itself.”
I would put much more value in the decade of the 1930’s, which we know was warmer than subsequent years, including warmer than 2016, which NASA/NOAA claim is the “Hottest Year Evah!”.
Here’s Hansen’s 1999 U.S. chart, which shows the 1930’s as being 0.5C warmer than 1998, which also makes it warmer than 2016, since 2016 is only 0.1C warmer than 1998:comment image

I had a similar experience at that site at the beginning of 2014. The funny part about that was that they had me so riled up that I had a break through in seeing part of the bigger climate picture which then allowed me to start making predictions which have held up. Perhaps one day I will go back to their site to thank them for sparking my thoughts.

RobbertBobbert

Craig…The Conversation borders on Academic Fascist in its response to posts that challenge The Academic Establishment.
This website, set up to be an academic apology for leftie luvvie policy received 3 million in grants from Gillard/Rudd over 2011 to 2013. This taxpayer sub was stopped in Tony Abbott’s time only for our Victorian Socialist state government to pony up another 3 million for the next 3 years.
So this private concern got 20 large every week for 6 years from the taxpayer which pretty much meant that this private company had most of its wage bill paid for the first 6 years of its life by the taxpayer. And it paid its way by ensuring that conservative comment got sledged and insulted and generally withdrawn by the moderators.

The allegation that climate change is a key cause of conflict is popular nonsense, the prattling of imbeciles.
Here are some politically-incorrect thoughts from 2014:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/22/bill-gates-3-myths-that-block-progress-for-the-poor/#comment-1547803
[excerpt]
Regarding Bill Gate’s contention that “the world is better than it has ever been”:
I suggest that the Western world has been slipping for several decades, with lower living standards, rising unemployment and youth alienation.
I further suggest that sub-Saharan Africa is much worse than it was fifty years ago. Prior to the African Independence Movement circa 1960, many of these countries had rule–of-law, effective government, and functioning economies and infrastructure that has since been destroyed.
Were these African colonial governments democratic or fair? No they were not.
Was the average African nation and the average citizen, black or white, much better off than today? I suggest they were.
I further suggest that if you are hungry, see your children die before you, and live in constant fear, then you really don’t give a damn about democracy or fairness – you just want to be safe, have food and a future for your children.
I suggest that as a human society, we have somewhat lost our way, and renovations are overdue.
In the developed world, we need less government, not more, and we need much more common sense than is displayed by our current global leadership. Obama and most of the leaders of Western Europe have failed badly. The average world leader today is lacking adequate education to function effectively in this complex modern technological world, and is easily misled by the latest fads and foolishness. Again, global warming hysteria and green energy nonsense are excellent examples.
Our current Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper appears to be the exception – a man with significant education and common sense. Canada’s economy is the strongest in the G8, and we have NOT resorted to excessive printing of money. If Canada could print money proportionally to the USA, we could pay off about half our National Debt.
Yet the leftist mob continues to criticize Harper, complaining that he is not more like Opposition Leader Justin Trudeau, or is it Justin Beiber. Justin Trudeau overplayed his hand long ago – he has his mother’s looks, AND his mother’s brains. He is a male bimbo.
In the developing world, we need Rule of Law and some honest, competent form of government. Corruption and incompetence are endemic. Sadly, many of these societies were significantly better off under the “yoke of colonialism”.
[Found and rescued. I also went ahead and removed the duplicate post. -mod]

Thank you moderator; and thank you all moderators for all your hard work.
Note how much has changed in four years since I posted the above on Gates Notes:
Donald Trump is reversing all the Obama et al hysterical climate-and-energy nonsense in the USA, and Justin Trudeau (aka Mr. Dressup) is adopting all this climate-and-energy nonsense in Canada.

Fredar

Yes… Too bad Trump also likes good old protectionism, which has worked, well… never. Ah, but wait, he is not part of the Left, so he has to be right and competent!
If something is ripping this world apart, it’s increasing political polarization. Left thinks it’s always right and everyone else is always wrong, and the Right thinks it’s always right and everyone else is always wrong. There is no dialogue between them, just ad hominem attacks, just like in the long post above, which for some reason is bad if the Left does it, but fine if the Right does it. I’m sick of both groups.

AllyKat

I am shocked, shocked that human conflict is mostly related to having an increasing number of people trying to share fewer resources under erratic, insecure political regimes.
Next they’ll be claiming the Pope is Catholic and water is wet.

Peta of Newark

Thank you AllyKat..
and for folks round here who adhere to the carbonoxide fertilising effect – where is that?
Where is all the Global Greening we so endlessly rave about?
Where is the Super Duper High Tech Agriculture that is going to save us all (in the future)
What about all that wonderful (nitrogen) fertiliser?
What about all that super cheap de-salinated water the Israelis have learned how to make?
Why don’t these people use some or any of those things?
Ah. Because they’re dirt poor you say – can’t afford it?
But, your next mouthful will be to say how rich, well educated, sensitive & caring you are.
This is why you have stopped making babies, remember?
Okaaaaay. Give them some of the stuff that would let them grow some stuff and sell it.
But why sell it?
Oh, so they can buy Apple phones, trash TVs, booze, guns, shyte from McDonalds and Coca-Cola plus medical cures for any/all the western diseases they now get – from Coca-Cola and Ronald McD
And Ford Fat Fifty pickup trux to carry all that junk home with them.
(And to pay divorce lawyers)
Dirt poor is exactly it.
Their dirt is exhausted, wasted, weathered to extinction and no amount of the good and bounteous things things listed above will get anything to grow out of it.
It is what is coming everywhere.
Slowly. Even more slowly than the speed Climate moves/changes.
But it is coming and rising levels of carbonoxide in the atmosphere are the sign.
People who use or have used large amounts of nitrogen (ha ha) fertiliser on farmland, self included, will or should see & recognise many other little signs. Acid soil. Puddles in fields. Collapsing drains. Endlessly blocked ditches & gutters. Ever larger veterinary bills and greater number of call-outs.
A myriad of little things and normally put down to ‘bad luck’
I have done research. I have talked to and asked many many farmers. They see all the little signs but guess what, they blame climate change.
Strangely though, even though they universally don’t believe in man-made climate change, they will admit that ‘something is happening’
But from experience, I know that they are too busy generating the ‘cheap food’ that everyone demands & expects and certainly in the UK, wrestling with an ever expanding bureaucracy and its mountains of red-tape, rules & regulations.
Modern farmers simply don’t have the time to think, stop & stare, explore & wonder. Because if they did, within hours they’d be foul of some trivial regulation and thanks to the ‘support system’ would be bankrupted within the month.
Makes you wonder doesn’t it………………..

F. Leghorn

Huh?

Ben of Houston

Peta, what you are talking about has no relation whatsoever to climate. It’s all about poor land management, much of which is due to poverty or worse, such as war. Writing an essay with emotional language doesn’t make you any more persuasive if you ignore the point, which is that climate change has a negligible effect or net-positive effect on farming.
We have known how to counter acid soil for centuries. We’ve known how to fertilize, irrigate, and crop rotate for millennia. These aren’t new, and aren’t increasing in frequency. Other things you mention, such as increasing veterinary bills, are just completely unrelated, even on a theoretical level. Seriously, where are you getting these things? Turning a small change in temperature into a universal boogeyman is either medieval or childish.

D. J. Hawkins

Peta;
Here I am on the 10th floor of One Gateway, in Newark, wondering where the heck you are finding any farmers to talk to. And if you wander out to Sussex or Hunterdon counties, they’re all wondering right now if the cold an RAIN will ever let them get a crop in the ground this year.

joelobryan

“the risk of conflict seems higher in ethnically fractionalised countries, countries where distinct ethnic groups have separate cultures and don’t mix very much, where the sense of shared national values is weak.”
The 1990’s Rwanda genocide between the Hutu’s and the Tutsi’s comes to mind here. Purely driven by failed political systems and very long standing ethnic differences (hatreds) that to our Western eyes makes no sense.
But to be sure, all of these kind of tragic studies must use the current Africa as their study subject. Where else could this work? Maybe Afghanistan or Pakistan. But then the non-PC invocation of radical Islamic teachings as a casual factor to mayhem would inform. We can’t have that, now can we.
Going deeper, and using the Bible as a historical reference. When have droughts, floods, famines, plagues, pestilence not been a part of human existence? Maybe Biblical times of a thousand years, before CO2 was a factor?
I can tell you where mankind succeeds. It is where human technology, innovation, and the use of affordable energy have combined to bring an increased living standard to the masses, and not just the elites in the society. And an affluent middle class threatens the Elites’ control.
The true middle class was where the real innovation of the 18th Century occurred, embodied by the US breaking away from Great Britain in a rebellion to freedom and away from tyranny. The American colonies had built a working middle class. And that middle class demanded democracy, and the dominant class demanded control of the political institutions that govern.
That is why the elitist socialists want to destroy the middle class with their climate charade and make peasants of everyone. It is about Control.

joelobryan

“the risk of conflict seems higher in ethnically fractionalised countries, countries where distinct ethnic groups have separate cultures and don’t mix very much, where the sense of shared national values is weak.”
The 1990’s Rwanda genocide between the Hutu’s and the Tutsi’s comes to mind here. Purely driven by failed political systems and very long standing ethnic differences (hatreds) that to our Western eyes makes no sense.
But to be sure, all of these kind of tragic studies must use the current Africa as their study subject. Where else could this work? Maybe Afghanistan or Pakistan. But then the non-PC invocation of radical Islamic teachings as a casual factor to mayhem would inform. We can’t have that, now can we.
Going deeper, and using the Bible as a historical reference. When have droughts, floods, famines, plagues, pestilence not been a part of human existence? Maybe Biblical times of a thousand years, before CO2 was a factor?
I can tell you where mankind succeeds. It is where human technology, innovation, and the use of affordable energy have combined to bring an increased living standard to the masses, and not just the elites in the society. And an affluent middle class threatens the Elites’ control.
The true middle class was where the real innovation of the 18th Century occurred, embodied by the US breaking away from Great Britain in a rebellion to freedom and away from tyranny. The American colonies had built a working middle class. And that middle class demanded democracy, and the dominant class demanded control of the political institutions that govern.
That is why the elitist socialists want to destroy the middle class with their climate charade and make peasants of everyone. It is about Control.

joelobryan

comments are not posting because WordPress is shadow blocking them.

Ron Long

When I consult the “List of countries by IQ”, I find the peak of the Bell Curve for IQ distribution in Ethiopia at 63. Mental retardation is considered to start at 60. There no longer are human die-off events (due to famine, however wars are another matter), so they produce a lot of new population in Ethiopia, with an average IQ of 63. What could possibly go wrong? Recurring drought becomes a formula for disaster. Add in War Lords, pIrates, jihadis, etc and it gets worst. Study Ethiopia for Climate Change impact? Whoever can fix Ethiopia is much smarter than me.

Ben of Houston

Ron, quite frankly, I would consider any “list of countries by IQ” as extremely suspect until proven otherwise. IQ tests are not comparable with each other, and often not even internally consistent. They are easily confounded with education level and other issues. Then, you have to consider motivations and results of the numerous studies (and it would have to be dozens studies to get any sort of list) involved. Such an extreme finding (that the average score is almost at a handicapped level) begs suspicion. Perhaps all the studies available for those countries were studying the handicapped? It’s quite possible. Please provide a link to your source.
That being said, malnutrition and disease have been consistently shown to have a negative effect on intelligence. The average score in America is believed to have raised ~10 points relative to the 1900s due to elimination of common deficiencies such as iodine and near-complete elimination of lead in water and air. People with poor living conditions have their physical and mental growth stunted by their situation.

Ron Long

Ben, you are badly behind the times. Neuroscientists now utilize the in-phase alpha wave (8-14 hertz) patterns in human brains to calculate IQ directly. Did Head Start change the IQ of anyone? Reality bites sometimes.

Ben of Houston

Are you joking? I truly can’t tell.
This is actually below phrenology and attempts to measure intelligence via brain mass or head size. Its … nonsensical at best. You first have to prove that it’s a good measurement of intelligence and then that it isn’t confounded by thing such as skull thickness and that it is viable and consistent with other forms of measurement.
The conclusion that a certain ethnic group has a ludicrously low IQ is not red flag, but an entire field of crimson banners that the methodology is almost certainly nonsense.

Ron Long

Ben, who mentioned ethnic group? Ethopia is a country and Head Start is for disadvantaged. The world militaries utilized IQ tests for years to select candidates for more complex training (the US Army called it the GT score). They did this because it worked. My identical twin brother and I were adopted at birth by the same two great parents, and we participated in two separated identical twin studies. We participated as adopted but not separated as a form of control. The other control group was virtual twins, genetically different babies adopted simultaneously by the same adoptive parents. These virtual twins are what you are extolling as products of environment. Doesn’t work. IQ enters into many aspects of cultural advancement. Sir Newton invented calculus to assist in defining gravity. Calculus is not understood by persons with IQ below 100. Differential Equations?

Ben of Houston

You’re losing track of the topic, Ron. I’m merely saying that the claim that the average IQ of Ethiopa is essentially handicapped is unbelievable, and the idea that IQ can be measured via brain scan smacks of pseudo-science. Where did you read this? Source please, or I’ll have to conclude that your are creating it wholesale.
Replying to your latest post. To say that a score on a relevant test (the army’s method) predicts success is so basic that it’s trivial. To say that genetics plays a role in intelligence is equally inane. To say “people below 100 IQ cannot comprehend calculus” is willfully ignorant, as that’s not how it works. IQ is a quotient. The average person will have 100 IQ by definition. If you raise the average, then people will have the same IQ but improve their scores.

s-t

Has the effect of lead on brain been established in a “robust” way?

Barry

PETA,
Again, visit gapminer.com . Things aren’t as bad as you wish they were.
B

What is particularly interesting is that this is in a rag (the so-called Conversation) that normally only publishes alarmist nonsense, and it’s by Mark Maslin, normally on the extreme political wing of climate science.
If you click on Maslin’s name there you can find his other articles, including
“Al Gore Q&A and video interview: Fixing democracy to combat climate change” – a fawning interview with Gore in which the key point is that there is a problem with democracy that needs to be fixed, because his side didn’t win.
“Why I’ll talk politics with climate change deniers – but not science” – a particularly nasty article where he was rightly given a hard time in the comments.
I wonder if Maslin is growing up.

Reasonable Skeptic

Odd, I just assumed that western societies just happened to be lucky and avoided climate catastrophes because we were told that civil wars happened due to climate catastrophes.
Now that we know that civil wars are driven by bad governance perhaps we can solve the issue more efficiently than me trying to solve it by bicycling to work.
(That was sarcasm by the way)

BallBounces

Sure, you’re back-pedalling now 😉

Ian Macdonald

There’s little doubt that the oil revenue to the Middle East has had a significant destabilizing effect on that region, and has been a contributing factor to wars, religious extremism and terrorist activity. Part of the problem is that the leading figures in that region don’t practise what their religion tells them to, in that the wealth is all held by a priveleged minority instead of being shared among all, as the book actually says should be done.
This is a very good reason why we need to work on EFFECTIVE replacements for imported fossil fuel. Which wind and solar are not. Indigenous fossil fuel like shale gas is one such option, but a better one is advanced nuclear such as LFTR. Particularly as that kind of tech can act as a means of reducing the imbalance of wealth in poorer societies. Just as temperature difference drives thunderstorms, wealth difference drives armed conflict. Even out the prosperity and the conflict ceases.

gunsmithkat

Well, duh. Until the concepts of Rule of Law and Property Rights are ingrained in a population conflict will be endemic. It’s not rocket science.

scross

Note the careful wording here (I notice such things):
“And these droughts can in turn be linked to a long-term drying trend ASCRIBED TO anthropogenic climate change.”
“This study demonstrates that within socially and geo-politically fragile systems, climate change MAY POTENTIALLY EXACERBATE the situation particularly with regards to enforced migration.”
Not “caused by” and “will exacerbate” or anything like that. Whenever I see situations like this I read it as the author(s) probably “paying the toll” (as is so often required these days) without necessarily “drinking the Kool-Aid”.

Joel Snider

I’d say religious or ideological conflict is pretty much the primary cause of war, wherever you find it.
I can at least relate to a war over resources.

Davis

A lot of wars are caused by lust, greed and petty jealousy of one group of people wanting whatever another group has. The Spanish conquered a lot of the world looking for gold, WW1 was a family feud between the European monarchies that were all related to each other, and WW2 was a group of people looking for some more living space, compliments of their neighbours.

Fredar

A bit oversimplified. You might as well say that the pyramids are just old pile of rocks, football is just people chasing a ball on a grassfield, and Shakespeare’s works are just old words on paper.

s-t

“the risk of conflict seems higher in ethnically fractionalised countries”
As if “diversity” was not always an asset…