New research by Scandinavian scientists claims the link between global warming and war is greatly exaggerated.
Claims that global warming causes war don’t hold up to scrutiny, according to the study. The scientific team, led by Dr. Nina von Uexkull, examined conflict data for Asia and Africa since 1989 and found that ethnic political exclusion, political tensions, proximity to pre-existing violence or other various country-specific risk factors are much better explanations for why wars occur than global warming.
Researchers paid particular attention to the Syrian civil war, which environmentalists typically blame on a drought they say was caused by global warming.
“Calling Syria a climate war, for instance, means ignoring longer-term historical tensions across the region, and lets the humans involved off the hook,” states a summary of the research. “Our well-meaning celebrities and politicians would perhaps be surprised to hear that Uexkull and colleagues found the impact of drought on conflict was generally ‘limited.'”
The new study concurs with previous research by scientists at the free market Cato Institute, which said that blaming the Syrian civil war on global warming was “absurd” and stated rainfall models that blame global warming for Syria’s drought are “fudged.”
The research was financially supported by the Peace Research Institute Oslo and Department of Peace and Conflict Research, which are supported by the Norwegian and Swedish governments respectively.
“[W]hat this study by Uexkull and colleagues confirms is that most communities are in fact quite climate resilient,” researchers concluded. “It generally takes a lot more than a dry spell to kick off a war. This should give us some hope that more intense weather events, such as severe droughts, do not automatically lead to more conflict or even civil war among those affected.”
Uexkull and other researchers did find that there’s some evidence that droughts in particular can have some influence in starting a conflict, but that the effect is extremely modest compared to other factors. Such research isn’t likely to stop green politicians and environmentalists from claiming that global warming is the root cause of wars.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders repeatedly blamed global warming for the Syrian civil war and the rise of the Islamic State. Sanders’s claims were rated as “mostly false” by the liberal fact-checking site PolitiFact. The fact-checking site noted that wars are far more closely associated with separatist movements, religious extremism, weak governing systems, and a lack of political legitimacy than droughts or other weather conditions that could conceivably be created by global warming
Bill McKibben, the co-founder of the environmental group 350.org, has repeatedly compared global warming to World War 3 and stated that a full-scale military-style mobilization against it is necessary to prevent future wars that would lead to humanity’s extinction.
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