Conversation Climate Conflict Climbdown


One of the many questionable claims made by climate catastrophists is that climate change causes conflict.  See, for example, this report in the Independent, this one from Scientific American or these two articles from the Conversation, all trying to link climate change with violence and war.

A year ago we reported on a talk given in Oxford by Clionadh Raleigh, in which she fairly bluntly took these claims to pieces. Andrew Montford also wrote an article on her talk.

But now the Conversation, normally at the forefront of climate alarmism and exaggeration, has published not just one but two articles acknowledging that there really isn’t a link, only a week apart.

The first is Climate change is not a key cause of conflict, finds new study, which is interesting partly because it is written by Mark Maslin, who is usually one of the most extreme and political of climate scientists, brown-nosing Al Gore in a recent interview. Maslin and a student looked at data on conflict and severe events such as droughts across 10 countries in East Africa over the last 50 years, and found no link. They did find a link between refugees and drought, which Maslin – or perhaps the Conversation editor – labels as climate change in a heading.

The second article, published just a week later is Why blaming conflicts in Africa on climate change is misguided, by Ore Koren of Dartmouth College. He points to this paper in Nature that criticises earlier studies making the climate-conflict link, and says that in his new paper he found that in fact armed groups are most active when food is most plentiful – a point that Raleigh also made in her talk. He didn’t seem to know about Maslin’s article until I wrote deja vu in the comments.

I wonder if this is one climate scare that will now be permanently consigned to the dustbin, or whether it will be exhumed next time there’s an urgent political need to promote climate calamity?


  1. The subject of whether conflict is more likely in cold periods or warm periods has been studied in detail, both for Europe and for China. Both studies came to the conclusion that war is more likely in cold periods than in warm periods.

    Climate Change And Violent Conflict In Europe Over The Last Millennium
    Richard S.J. Tol and Sebastian Wagner

    We investigate the relationship between a thousand-year history of violent conflict in Europe and various reconstructions of temperature and precipitation. We find that conflict was more intense during colder periods.

    Climate Change, Social Unrest And Dynastic Transition In Ancient China
    Zhang Dian et al.,

    Results showed that war frequency in cold phases was much higher than that in mild phases.


  2. It remains in the tank of exposed frauds, alongside the hockey stick, climate denial being linked with fake moon landings, the pause which might or might not have happened, polar bears, invisible snow in Britain, the Maldives under water, etc … Sooner or later, when grist is in short supply, it will be back


  3. I suspect the process goes something like this:
    An academic trying to interest the public in some dreadful conflict in the developing world no-one cares about thinks he can further his cause by linking it to climate change. Some green blob think tank with dozens of employees, millions of dollars to spend and a website that no-one reads picks up the story and passes it on to some environmental journalist who’s had no global warming to point to for eighteen years, and a myth is born.

    Other academics (or, in the case of Maslin, the same one) realise they’re not making much sense and push back. The tide will never be reversed by reasoned argument. Only when the proponents start getting funny looks from their colleagues will they retreat.


  4. I am slightly surprised that, if any link occurs between temperature and armed conflict, it should be with colder episodes rather than warmer. After all if there is a tendency for tetchiness (leading to violence) to increase when temperatures are warmer. My wife (formerly a high school teacher) says pupils are noticeably more disruptive during warmer days, and recent TV programs I have viewed upon ambulance and/or A&E services suggests those working there dread warm evenings because they will be stretched perhaps beyond their capabilities. I would have expected some correlation between the incidence of small-scale and large-scale violence. But then human behaviour is rarely predictable.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Historian Geoffrey Blainey’s ‘The Causes of War,’ a survey of all the International Wars
    since 1700, finds that the most popular time for starting a war was the 4 months, April
    to July, better m,obility, troop foraging and morale. 26 out of 44 wars commenced then,
    and only 3 in Winter. Context, context. In the Little Ice Age, in Switzerland and Germany,
    25 peasant revolts were recorded due to famine.


  6. George Monbiot first got turned on to climate change when he was in Kenya. Someone at an NGO told him that it was causing the Turkana to do more cattle-raiding, so when he got home he switched from opposing bypasses to opposing climate change – and the rest is history.

    Now, it’s true that some Turkana cattle-raiders haven given drought as a reason for cattle-raiding (one survey put it at #8 in a list topped by greed, heroism, dowry and revenge) but as far as I know no study has yet shown convincing links between raiding, climate change and droughts in northern Kenya – and certainly not the droughts in the ’90s that first convinced Monbiot that climate change was a bummer because it was making habitual cattle-raiders do more cattle-raiding than normal.

    In his defence, Monbiot was suffering from malaria at the time of his awakening.

    Which makes one wonder. If he hadn’t had malaria, would he still be banging on about bypasses rather than climate change?

    (Probably not. All of his bypass chums moved on to climate change many years ago. Monbiot switched to it earlier than most, is all.)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. There is a connection between unusually warm weather and civil unrest. In Britain especially, riots occur in the warm summer weather. A change to summer showers is far more effective at stopping riots than thousands of riot police. If the Met Office is correct about summers becoming drier then riots could increase. (see Geoff’s post
    But unusual weather in a highly variable climate is not climate change. The fact that riots occur on warm dry summer evenings is probably due to their being infrequent. If they were common, there would be less people flooding the streets.
    What I found most interesting in Maslin’s article was his two graphs, relating displaced persons to drought severity. In my opinion, a far more important relationship would be drought-related mortality statistics. Within East Africa, In recent times the most severe famine is the Ethiopian famine of 1984-1985, when maybe 400,000-500,000 people died. The massive death toll was not down to a severe drought, but to an authoritarian imposing collectivisation of agriculture with forced resettlements; expropriating a large part of peasant farmer produce to feed the cities; starving the rebel area of Eritrea; and increasing military expenditure to well over 40% of national income in one of the poorest countries in the world.
    Further, East Africa is one of the most climate vulnerable areas of the world. Since the Ethiopian famine, there have been at least two famines that are far more severe. The North Korean famine of 1996 and the Zaire / Congo famine of 1998-2004 could have each claimed more than 3 million lives. But these are small compared to the largest reported famines.

    Looking down the list, most of the result of war or oppressive policies. But what stands out as climate-related across several countries, is the famines of 1876–79. This affected China, India, Northern Africa and Brazil. Wikipedia can be a very unreliable source, particularly on climate after the editing by numerous activists. The claim that “The famine in China was a result of drought influenced by the El Niño-Southern Oscillation.” should be taken with a pinch of salt. The fact that it occurred prior to any discernable rise in CO2 levels suggests natural climatic extremes had catastrophic impacts.


  8. >Beththesurf “Historian Geoffrey Blainey’s ‘The Causes of War,’ a survey of all the International Wars
    since 1700, finds that the most popular time for starting a war was the 4 months, April
    to July, better m,obility, troop foraging and morale. ”

    April to July was the ‘hungry gap’ i.e. between the previous year’s crops running out and the present year’s harvests. Maybe the correlation is with a war starting the spring after a bad harvest, when a wise King would always prefer troublemakers, ie young men, to be well away from their home territory when they start foraging?


  9. Vinny

    A famous group of cattle raiders in Britain were the Border Reivers at their height in the late sixteenth century. That is during the little ice age. The height of the season was in the early winter months when the horses were still fat from the summer, but the nights were long. The area is not exactly known for droughts. The only time I visited Hadrian’s Wall was in the summer, when the temperature was about 10C, and was raining and windy. Yet the Roman’s were able to grow grapes in their stay. Nowadays (with modern growing techniques) the most northerly vineyard is in Cheshire, over 100 miles south.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I Thought it was the opposite (at least in old times)
    campaign in the summer & retreat to your home fire when the winter approaches.

    makes sense to me, with cold feet as the moment.


  11. So once agsin, skeptics got it right and the alarmists are still trying to catch up.


  12. Hunter. The problem with comments like your 1.45am 6 May is that whereas the non-sceptical position is tightly controlled and therefore not very variant, in contrast there usually is not a single “denier” position upon any subject. For example, this thread includes a discussion/debate between sceptics who are prepared to accept very different connections between temperature and belligerence. It is usually possible to find a sceptical position that ultimately will prove to be correct upon any subject. And many that will be wrong (to varying degrees).

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Alan,
    Thank you for your thoughtful reply.
    Yes, skeptics do populate a spectrum of opinions on nearly every facet of the consensus. Since I am now enjoying an afternoon at a lovely restored and updated Italian farm looking over the grest fjord of Lake Como, please excuse me to prepare a longer more thoughtful reply.


  14. @Hunter

    Lake Como a Fjord!!!
    a wine or beer to many maybe, any dead parrots about!!!

    anyway, enjoy your holiday/trip 🙂


  15. Dfhunter. Lake Como is a Y-shaped variety of a finger-lake (or FJORD lake), also known as a Zungenbecken.


  16. Hunter. Yes indeed, put your infamous phone away, you have more important things to do.


  17. df hunter,
    Good catch. “Fjord” is not any glacier carved body of water.
    Living in the flat coastal plains of Texas, it is easy to overlook the distinction when looking at or boating in one of these amazing creations first hand.


  18. Alan,
    Your point is well taken.
    Skeptics until now have been a mob of disorganized opinions, ranging across a vast spectrum of opinions.
    And the “consensus” has used the more offbeat fringes to hide behind no matter how many “consensus” predictions fail.


  19. Tom,
    You are quite the travellerThanks, it has been wonderful.
    George was apparently out of town but sent his regrets, lol.


  20. Hunter. I salute your recognition of the formative processes that formed the lake.
    Also don’t do your own coastal features down. I have spent many a lazy afternoon sailing Laguna Madre anticipating a shrimp supper at Galveston and hearing good jazz. Heh ho. The thing I have learned is – never go back. Disappointment usually awaits.


  21. Skeptics carry out asymmetric rebel opposition to a very disciplined army of consensus zombies (controlled by a very powerful central network which stops the emergence of original thought within zombie brains using sticks and carrots). The rebel forces, on the other hand, benefit from acting in thoroughly disorganized cells limited to no more than a dozen rebels. This allows them to fight on when one of the cells is captured by the enemy (interrogator zombies are unable to deal with the variety of information and weird nonconforming ideas they manage to extract from skeptic prisoners).

    Liked by 2 people

    I was surprised to see you of all people comparing us to a bunch of Che Guevaras, though it’s true that wherever we’ve met, we’ve usually seen our totally opposing viewpoints rudely dismissed by the same zombie arguments.

    You’re right about the zombies and the asymmetry of the opposition. But I don’t agree that they’re controlled by a powerful central network. There’s a network of groupthinking but largely apolitical scientists isolated in their ivory tower; a group of sheeplike environmental journalists in search of a headline or a better-paying job in a green thinktank; disparate groups of unloved politicians looking for something simpler to do than make the lives of their voters better; and the money of big green philanthropy, paying the salaries.

    That’s a crude anatomy of the Climate Blob, in a nutshell. What nobody’s managed to do is explain the physiology, what makes it work. “A powerful central network” would be nice, if we could find it, but I suspect it’s more complicated than that. Let’s keep on looking though.

    Liked by 1 person

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