This week, Science published a quantitative report by economists at University of California, Berkeley suggesting humans may become more hostile as a result of rapidly increasing temperatures on Earth. The study found “strong causal evidence” linking climatic events to human conflict, across “a range of spatial and temporal scales and across all major regions of the world."
Oh, wait. Back up. We don’t all already know that climate change does such things. In fact, we all can’t even agree that anthropogenic (man-made) climate change is real and happening.
Hence the importance of this latest Science study: If we can’t convince ‘em with cold, hard facts about the Earth’s changing environment, we’ve got to try a different tactic. Perhaps these cold, hard facts about humankind’s changing makeup will hit “greenhouse doubters” closer to home.
Even as human activity causes the planet to warm up at the fastest rate in recorded history during the last 50 years, “greenhouse doubters” perpetuate a naysaying attitude to the scientific assertion that climate change is real.
They argue that the Earth experiences natural warming and cooling phases all the time. “Just look at the Ice Age!” they wail. “We’re still warming up from that!”
Yes, the Earth experiences natural cooling and warming patterns, but the intense warming we’ve witnessed in recent decades is definitely not natural.
And if the country’s first climate refugees in Alaska can’t convince deniers that this condition isn’t natural, maybe Science’s new link between rising heat levels and increased assault and domestic violence rates can.
The “striking results” clearly suggest that conflict rises as temperatures increase. Even small increases in temperature can lead to significantly higher rates of human conflict.
Hopefully, this fresh take on anthropogenic climate change will distract doubters like Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) from ranting about President Obama’s “war on coal.” Perhaps the study’s findings will bring the issue closer to home, illuminating for doubters the fundamental reason we must continue talking about climate change. That reason is the future of humanity — not the future of a singular source of economic profit.
Alternatively, the fact that this study was completed by U.S. scholars could further diminish the validity of climate change for deniers like Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), who holds that the “hoax” of climate change was initially created in the United States for a means of controlling the people. Seriously?
To the most stubborn of climate change deniers, I highly suggest this op-ed piece written by physics professor Richard Muller, which relates his “conversion” out of greenhouse skepticism. Once a climate change skeptic, this former MacArthur Foundation Fellow and University of California, Berkeley professor now goes so far as to say “humans are almost entirely the cause” of global warming.
Try his story on for size, whether you’re ticked off at scientists for claiming anthropogenic climate change is real, or at naysayers for denying its reality. I daresay you’ll come away with a renewed sense of the importance of the issue — and, most importantly, of the necessity that we as humankind need to respond now.