The Atlantic's Olga Khazan reports on a new research from Princeton University and UC Berkeley that has found a correlation between "big shifts in climate and precipitation and a rise in interpersonal violence, institutional breakdown, and especially inter-group violence, such as war." In other words, the warmer it gets, the more likely we are in killing each other.
Solomon Hsiang, a public policy professor at Princeton and one of the study's lead authors, told me that while his team did discover that conflict and climate change are related, they still don't know why it is that temperature change makes us so belligerent. And, more importantly, they aren't saying climate change is the only or even primary cause of violence.
"We're in the position medical researchers were in in the 1930s," he told me. "Smoking was the clear proximate cause of lung cancer, but it wasn't until decades later that we understood how that was linked."
They do offer a few theories, though. Climate change causes migration, and as big populations move, they might confront existing residents in a battle for resources and land. It can also alter physical environments in a way that predisposes people to confrontation, or -- particularly in earlier eras -- might have caused people to wrongly attribute environmental conditions to the actions of their enemies. Other studies have shown that hot temperatures make us more hostile psychologically.
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