Beyond the Southwest: Is There a Relationship Between Climate and Violence?
There are case studies from places such as China, the Canary Islands, Europe, and Southern California that appear to show increased levels of violence in the form of intergroup conflict, warfare, and, in extreme cases, cannibalism and genocide. These are explored in detail to demonstrate that even though there appears to have been an increase in the use of violence, often that increase was the result of a complexity of cultural and political factors, and not solely related to climate change per se. Thus, even when violence is recorded during periods of climate change, it is crucial that they be carefully looked at before using them to generate policies. There have been politically generated announcements that wealthy industrial countries will need to fortify their borders and redirect their attention to improving technological innovations that can increase the yield of agricultural crops on nonproductive land. An alternative to this, as history has shown, could be that nation states could cooperate (e.g., share resources, prevent further environmental degradation, and limit consumption) and avoid the need for closing borders and increasing conflicts. While we must be careful not to project modern ideals on to past peoples, these case studies provide alternative ways to think about the role of violence in any situation where groups feel threatened and fearful for their future. Violence certainly is used by groups throughout the past and present, but the underlying causes for that are complex, multiple, and rarely every tied to one variable such as climate or weather.
KeywordsCase studies Climate change Violence Worldwide Bioarchaeology
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