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Violence might increase with global warming

November 6, 2013 4:50 PM |

Things could heat up and tempers could flare with the globe heating and the oceans warming up faster than ever! (Pacific Ocean is warming 15 times faster over a period of 60 years than it did in 10,000 years).

A report by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), set to be issued in March 2014 on how global warming will impact current lifestyles including predictions of the future, talks about the direct and indirect impacts of global warming on starvation, poverty, flooding, heat waves, droughts and diseases that’ll lead to catastrophes. Moreover, wars, murders, and other acts of violence are likely to become more common in coming decades as mercury levels rise sharply.

“The estimated average effect of two degrees Celsius warming in tropical Africa could increase the risk of civil war in Africa by about 40 to 50%. People become more aggressive”, explained Edward Miguel, co-author of the study and economics professor at the University of California, Berkley.

Researchers believe it is the same issue, which may have brought down entire civilizations like the Mayans and several other Chinese dynasties around A.D 900.

Further, American cities would expect a 5 to 6% increase in violence in the event of such a temperature increase. Higher temperatures could lead to innocuous hostile behaviors, such as road rage, rash driving and more serious behaviors such as domestic violence within households, assault and rape, proving that women could be at a higher risk of domestic violence in regions experiencing abnormal heat, like in India and Australia. Besides, the risk of intergroup conflict around much of the planet could be amplified by 50% in 2050.

Brad Bushman, a professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University who specializes in human aggression and violence. He believes that dramatic changes in temperature and rainfall are unpleasant and naturally make people quite cranky. "When people are in a cranky mood, they're more likely to behave aggressively. Heat also has other strange effects, like heart rate increase, while simultaneously making people think they are less energetic”, added Bushman.

However, there are always other various mechanisms at play simultaneously. “Too much or too little rain can negatively affect a country's agriculture and lead to economic ruin. When individuals have very low income or the economy of the region collapses, that changes people's incentives to take part in various other negative or militant activities”, says Solomon Hsiang, an economist at Princeton University in New Jersey.

It remains to be seen whether this research will indeed get policy makers hot and bothered enough to enact any change.

Photo by redorbit.

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