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Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate.

Nature

War, statistics & numerical data, history, Violence, Urbanization, Tropical Climate, Time Factors, Socioeconomic Factors, Risk, Male, Internationality, Humans, History, 21st Century, History, 20th Century, Female, El Nino-Southern Oscillation, Conflict (Psychology)

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      Abstract

      It has been proposed that changes in global climate have been responsible for episodes of widespread violence and even the collapse of civilizations. Yet previous studies have not shown that violence can be attributed to the global climate, only that random weather events might be correlated with conflict in some cases. Here we directly associate planetary-scale climate changes with global patterns of civil conflict by examining the dominant interannual mode of the modern climate, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Historians have argued that ENSO may have driven global patterns of civil conflict in the distant past, a hypothesis that we extend to the modern era and test quantitatively. Using data from 1950 to 2004, we show that the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years. This result, which indicates that ENSO may have had a role in 21% of all civil conflicts since 1950, is the first demonstration that the stability of modern societies relates strongly to the global climate.

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      Most cited references 20

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      Global and Regional Scale Precipitation Patterns Associated with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation

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        Nonlinear temperature effects indicate severe damages to U.S. crop yields under climate change.

        The United States produces 41% of the world's corn and 38% of the world's soybeans. These crops comprise two of the four largest sources of caloric energy produced and are thus critical for world food supply. We pair a panel of county-level yields for these two crops, plus cotton (a warmer-weather crop), with a new fine-scale weather dataset that incorporates the whole distribution of temperatures within each day and across all days in the growing season. We find that yields increase with temperature up to 29 degrees C for corn, 30 degrees C for soybeans, and 32 degrees C for cotton but that temperatures above these thresholds are very harmful. The slope of the decline above the optimum is significantly steeper than the incline below it. The same nonlinear and asymmetric relationship is found when we isolate either time-series or cross-sectional variations in temperatures and yields. This suggests limited historical adaptation of seed varieties or management practices to warmer temperatures because the cross-section includes farmers' adaptations to warmer climates and the time-series does not. Holding current growing regions fixed, area-weighted average yields are predicted to decrease by 30-46% before the end of the century under the slowest (B1) warming scenario and decrease by 63-82% under the most rapid warming scenario (A1FI) under the Hadley III model.
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          Economic Shocks and Civil Conflict: An Instrumental Variables Approach

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            Author and article information

            Journal
            10.1038/nature10311
            21866157

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