Climate Change, Crimes of Violence and Wars

You can blame climate change for many things; poor crop yields, prevalence of forest fires, poor summers, cold winters, good summers, warm winters, migration of some species and extinction of others have all been blamed on a climate change. Recently climate change has been blamed for rising crime. Apparently, according to some scientists, there is a correlation between rising crime and climate change and between wars and climate change.

All controversies about climate change arise from the fact that many disbelieve in anthropogenic climate change. If you do not believe that we humans are creating fast climate change by emitting very large quantities of greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, then you cannot accept that any of the predicted consequences of fast climate change or any of the effects of fast climate change are happening or are real.

It is usually fashionable to blame all bad things upon a single problem. Discrimination against women is a problem but not all the ills of the earth can be traced to the fact that some ignorant people indulge in this activity. Similarly not all the ills of the earth can be due to the fact that humans are changing the climate. Some ills clearly are caused by some types of bad behaviour, but not every ill.

So there are those who support the idea of a correlation between violence and climate change and those who think any such relationship is nonsense.

I think that fast climate change is happening and its cause lies in human activity. I think that such activity has, since the industrial revolution, been changing our climate. I think that this fast climate change has led animals, including humans, to be forced to adapt to changing circumstances but sometimes adaptation is not possible because the climate changes more quickly than evolution. Sometimes humans, with their special intelligence, has enabled them to keep up with climate change in some places but often humans have been unable to live with the beast they have unleashed and as a result forest fires and crop failures bring misery.

I have no idea whether there is a correlation between fast climate change and crime and violence and war but my instinct tells me that there is no such relationship or if there is, it is far more complex than indicated and involves many other factors unrelated to climate change or marginally related to climate change.

Certainly I can foresee a time when rapid climate change forces mass migration from places affected by drought and from places affected by flooding. That mass migration will bring the migrators in direct opposition to those in live in places to which they migrate but that will happen in the future and so far climate change has caused migration of some species, but not, as far as I know, of any of the human species.

As the climate changes in different parts of the world there will be human stress and problems for humans. But such stress and problems do not always create conditions where humans become more criminal and more violent. In some cases stress may cause humans to become more tolerant and benign and charitable, as events like tsunamis and earthquakes show.

In the past five years in the worst recession and period of poor economic activity that any of us have known in our lifetimes humans have indulged in less crime, not in more crime. We should understand that not all bad things bring out the worst in us. Some bad things bring out the best in us.

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