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      Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate.

      Nature

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

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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 12

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          Western North Pacific Tropical Cyclone Intensity and ENSO

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            Predictability of El Niño over the past 148 years.

            Forecasts of El Niño climate events are routinely provided and distributed, but the limits of El Niño predictability are still the subject of debate. Some recent studies suggest that the predictability is largely limited by the effects of high-frequency atmospheric 'noise', whereas others emphasize limitations arising from the growth of initial errors in model simulations. Here we present retrospective forecasts of the interannual climate fluctuations in the tropical Pacific Ocean for the period 1857 to 2003, using a coupled ocean-atmosphere model. The model successfully predicts all prominent El Niño events within this period at lead times of up to two years. Our analysis suggests that the evolution of El Niño is controlled to a larger degree by self-sustaining internal dynamics than by stochastic forcing. Model-based prediction of El Niño therefore depends more on the initial conditions than on unpredictable atmospheric noise. We conclude that throughout the past century, El Niño has been more predictable than previously envisaged.
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              On the Threshold: Environmental Changes as Causes of Acute Conflict

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                21866157
                10.1038/nature10311

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