New research on the links between climate change and conflicts

by Judith Curry

the emerging links between climate, conflict, and national security are far from being thoroughly understood

Katherine O’Konski has an interesting post at ClimateScienceWatch entitled “New research on the links between climate change and conflicts.”  Some excerpts:

discussion panel held at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC, on December 19 served as a venue for experts to discuss their research on the links between climate and conflict. However, panelists were careful to place their conclusions within the large landscape of the still uncertain; in this way, the event served to highlight the fact that the emerging links between climate, conflict, and national security are far from being thoroughly understood, and that more research is necessary.

Mark Levy

Mark Levy was one of the panelists, who argued that what we know definitively about climate and the risk of conflict is actually quite limited.  His argument  is summarized in his  post at The New Security Beat entitled “Climate Security Links – Lost in Translation.”

Here’s how I would characterize what we know and we are trying to learn:

1) Economic deprivation almost certainly heightens the risk of internal war.
2) Economic shocks, as a form of deprivation, almost certainly heighten the risk of internal war.
3) Sharp declines in rainfall, compared to average, almost certainly generate economic shocks and deprivation.
4) Therefore, we are almost certain that sharp declines in rainfall raise the risk of internal war.

To understand how climate change might affect future conflict, we need to know much more. We need to understand how changing climate patterns interact with year-to-year variability to affect deprivation and shocks. We need to construct plausible socioeconomic scenarios of change to enable us to explore how the dynamics of climate, economics, demography, and politics will interact and unfold to shape conflict risk. 

The same scenarios that generate future climate change also typically assume high levels of economic growth in Africa and other developing regions. If development is consistent with these projections, the risk of conflict will lessen over time as economies develop and democratic institutions spread. 

To say something credible about climate change and conflict, we need to be able to articulate future pathways of economics and politics, because we know these will have a major impact on conflict in addition to climate change. Since we currently lack this ability, we must build it.

[A] more profound confusion reflected in the headline concerns the term “climate change.” Buhaug’s research did not look at climate change at all, but rather historical climate variability. Variability of past climate is surely relevant to understanding the possible impacts of climate change, but there’s no way that, by itself, it can answer the question headline writers and policymakers want answered: Will climate change spark more conflict? For that we need to engage in a much richer combination of scenario analysis and model testing than we have done so far. 

Solomon Hsiang

Another panelist was Solomon Hsiang, author of the Nature article entitled “Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate.” The abstract:

It has been proposed that changes in global climate have been responsible for episodes of widespread violence and even the collapse of civilizations. Yet previous studies have not shown that violence can be attributed to the global climate, only that random weather events might be correlated with conflict in some cases. Here we directly associate planetary-scale climate changes with global patterns of civil conflict by examining the dominant interannual mode of the modern climate, the El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO). Historians have argued that ENSO may have driven global patterns of civil conflict in the distant past, a hypothesis that we extend to the modern era and test quantitatively. Using data from 1950 to 2004, we show that the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years. This result, which indicates that ENSO may have had a role in 21% of all civil conflicts since 1950, is the first demonstration that the stability of modern societies relates strongly to the global climate.

The controversy surrounding this paper is summarized by a post at the New Security Beat entitled “El Nino, Conflict, and Environmental Determinist:  Assessing Climate’s Links to Security.” Some excerpts:

The authors found a statistical correlation between natural, predictable shifts in global climate – the ENSO effect – and incidences of civil conflict, but they are not sure why the correlation exists, offering instead a general theory:

Precipitation, temperature, sunlight, humidity and ecological extremes can adversely influence both agrarian and non-agrarian economics. In addition, ENSO variations affect natural disasters, such as tropical cyclones, and trigger disease outbreaks. All of these have adverse economic effects, such as loss of income or increasing food prices, and it is thought that economic shocks can generate civil conflict through a variety of pathways. Furthermore, altered environmental conditions stress the human psyche, sometimes leading to aggressive behavior. We hypothesize that El Niño can simultaneously lead to any of these adverse economic and psychological effects, increasing the likelihood of conflict.

In Foreign Policy, Charles Kenny points out some of the study’s limitations: The findings do not apply to anthropogenic climate change or interstate conflict; do not explain the specific mechanisms that link conflict and climate; and should be considered an additive – not primary – explanation for any conflict. Given these caveats, the title of the study is perhaps a bit misleading, but the authors do recognize all these limitations in the text.

Edward Carr, a professor in South Carolina’s Department of Geography and visiting AAAS fellow at USAID, had what may be the strongest critical response. In a post on his blog Open the Echo Chamber, he called the study “horrifically flawed, to the point that I cannot see how its conclusions actually tell us anything about the relationship between El Niño and conflict, let alone climate and conflict.”

In response to Carr’s criticism that their regression “is populated with massively over-aggregated data such that any causal signal is completely lost in the noise,” Hsiang writes:

It is true that our data is the most aggregated social data that we have ever seen analyzed (it summarizes the conditions for half the world’s population) and often aggregation makes signal detection difficult. However, this only makes the fact that we can extract a signal from the noise that much more remarkable. Despite everything else in the world that’s going on, we can observe a signal from ENSO loud and clear. And not only do we observe a single correlation, but we observe four patterns all of which point towards the idea that ENSO affects conflict.

Joseph Hewitt

O’Konski summarizes Hewitt’s arguments:

Joseph Hewitt, from the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation in USAID, also sought to avoid determinism and a simplified cause-effect relationship between climate and conflict.  Climate, he asserted, is filtered through the pre-existing characteristics of a certain nation, which condition any impact that it may have.  Assessing this impact requires not only assessing the future of economics and politics at a broad scale as Levy suggested, but also micro-level impacts on livelihoods, entrepreneurs, and communities.  This implies a need for high-quality fieldwork to observe how these relationships develop on the ground.

Josh Busby

O’Konski summarizes Busby’s arguments:

Still another approach to teasing out these links was demonstrated by Josh Busby in his work on the Climate Change and African Political Security (CCAPS) climate security vulnerability index for Africa.  His work, funded by the Department of Defense, is a testament to the importance climate change and national security has gained in government attention. His work “is designed to identify trouble spots where extreme weather events and changing patterns in rainfall and temperature are likely to put large numbers of people in Africa at risk of death.”  A clear and simple explanation of his work can be found at UT Austin’s website.

The goal is to provide a tool that will allow governments and international donors to prioritize spending and resources, hopefully preventing climate shocks from becoming disasters in affected areas.  This could limit the potential contribution of the disaster to a subsequent outbreak of conflict. The tool also provides a method for determining if aid is going to those countries that are most vulnerable to climate shocks.  Right now, this is not the case; political instability and danger to development workers on the ground prevents it.  The question of how aid is to be effectively utilized in these nations to prevent conflict remains to be seen.

Busby’s web site is worth a visit, it provides a detailed online vulnerability assessment for Africa.

JC comments: For reference, there have been several previous posts at Climate Etc. on security, the main reference post on this topic is Climate Change and Security.  This paragraph bears repeating:

These statements from the White House, military, and intelligence agencies clearly recognized climate change and natural disaster impacts as accelerants that can exacerbate existing sources of instability.  Climate change and natural disasters are not intrinsic security threats; rather, climate change impacts and natural hazards can serve as multiplier stressors on potentially already-unstable conditions, or can disrupt components of a country (infrastructure, health, governance systems, etc.), thereby resulting in destabilized conditions. These destabilized  conditions may result in conflict, migration, terrorism, and humanitarian disasters.

In this context, I particularly like the work that Josh Busby is doing.

141 responses to “New research on the links between climate change and conflicts

  1. I think history shows this is true and that cooling climate tends to result in famine and war. Warming climate has tended to result in stability as harvests increase, people become prosperous, there is no need to go to war. The Vandals and Goths didn’t migrate to escape warming climate in Northern Europe.

    • crosspatch –

      I agree with you, but disagree with the article saying –

      the emerging links between climate, conflict, and national security are far from being thoroughly understood, and that more research is necessary”

      I always hear alarm bells ringing when I see the phrase “More research is necessary”. The truth is that more research is only necessary if the question is genuinely worth investigating in the first place. There are an infinite number of questions that can be asked, and the fact that somebody is asking for a lot of money to address one that they think needs to be answered, doesn’t mean the funds should be forthcoming.

      I’d personally stump up some hard-earned to have someone address the issue of whether research such as that discussed here has every provided any meaningful benefit to anyone, beyond the satisfaction of ‘establishing a link’. Everybody wants to pretend their interesting question is also ‘important’, but sometimes I’d like that ruthlessly put to the test.

      I also think that this shows how gratuitously rich we all are. Vast numbers of people are queuing up to spend their lives ‘establishing links’ because they have no need to work to produce food, clothing or shelter. I wish Jonathan Swift or Voltaire were around to satirise this epidemic of spurious research projects – or to make useful contrasts between the most useful and the most useless. It seems to me that most studies which ask questions about ‘the impacts of climate change’ are mostly the former.

      Much cheaper is Crosspatch’s common sense observation – a bit warmer is, by and large, a bit better. Spend the cash on mosquito nets.

      • Former = latter :)

      • incandecentbulb

        Those on the Left would have to side on the view that research on liberating energy from the atom would be the latter as well.

      • “I wish Jonathan Swift or Voltaire were around to satirise this epidemic of spurious research projects”

        Surely you mean you wish they were around so they could produce food, clothing or shelter. Surely writing is a waste of human resource.

      • Lolwot – not at all. Their ability to choose the activities they did, merely demonstrates that some sections of society have been rich for a long while. I happen to think their choices were good ones.

      • Maybe they could write something contrasting the utility of writing satire vs producing food.

      • Swift extrapolates to the present just nicely Eg the grand academy of Lagoda

        “In the school of political projectors, I was but ill entertained, the professors appearing, in my judgment, wholly out of their senses; which is a scene that never fails to make me melancholy. These unhappy people were proposing schemes for persuading monarchs to choose favourites upon the score of their wisdom, capacity, and virtue; of teaching ministers to consult the public good; of rewarding merit, great abilities, and eminent services, of instructing princes to know their true interest, by placing it on the same foundation with that of their people; of choosing for employment persons qualified to exercise them; with many other wild impossible chimeras, that never entered before into the heart of man to conceive; and confirmed in me the old observation, that there is nothing so extravagant and irrational which some philosophers have not maintained for truth.”

      • I think Gulliver must have been trying to talk up eco-mental alarmists when he elicited the response –

        I cannot but conclude the bulk of your natives to be, the most pernicious race of little odious vermin that nature ever suffered to crawl upon the surface of the earth

        I also liked (presumably getting funding for) the idea of extracting sunbeams from cucumbers.

  2. In that new research on climate change and conflicts; did they stumble on the conflicts between me and Robert & Joshua, regarding climate?

    99% of all those researches; used to be GLOBAL warmings; now is climate change, are money squandered to keep the fear alive. How come all those ”researchers” cannot see that overpopulation is destroying the climate / vegetation??? Because all the researchers are from the anarchist camp – overpopulation is the best receipt for anarchy – conflict of interest exposed

    • Happy Boxing day to you Stefan [from the UK - we get the earlier bite..] – you do say some remarkably strange things!
      Dr C – are most of the researchers you have met anarchists?

      • Anteros, happy Boxing day, may me every other day happy for you. I’m down under in the colony, cooling on the Barrier reef from the phony GLOBAL warming

        Only researchers in the phony GLOBAL warming are with the anarchist gene. Unfortunately, they are multiplying faster than the Queensland’s cane toads. The more funds and grants they get; the less money for honest researches = they are cannibalising the honest professions…

  3. If by “climate change” one means the typical changes that occur in climate over time” this is interesting. If it is another pitch to claim that CO2 is going to kill us by war if we don’t freeze/roast/drown/dry up/blow away/have too much snow/too little snow first, then it is just another example of hype.

    • Surely if it’s interesting to consider how typical changes that occur in climate over time impact human conflict then it’s also interesting to consider how atypical changes that may occur in the 21st century will affect human conflicts.

      • The LIA has been very well recorded already, thank you

        Hundreds of peer-review papers quoting contemporary descriptions; even Google can find many dozens of articles whilst avoiding Wiki, eg

        http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/mandias/lia/little_ice_age.html

        It was clearly a terrible period for most people then (statement of the bleeding obvious)

        If we start with this already-done research, there isn’t much need to spend $$ on “more” research IMO. Crop failure/ flooding/desertification etc (at the most extreme ends) will obviously force mass movements of populations with concomitant conflicts

        Suppose one may be tempted to wonder if this is seen as yet another potential avenue for the scarey-bear … A New Study Reveals That AGW Will Result In Massive Civil Wars stuff

        What may be useful are studies done to suggest genuinely what may be done for adaptation; I think we have more than enough already on mitigation (none of which that I have managed to read are at all practical about it)

      • Adaptation is a form of mitigation. Mitigation is risk reduction to those of us in business. Adapting is one way to reduce risk. Redundancy and alternatives are others. Why the knee-jerk response of the skeptics to make mitigation into only adaptation is puzzling. It makes the skeptics look like Malthusians.

        “Adapt or die” is downright Malthusian in comparison to comprehensive mitigation planning. It is possible that these are just meaningless distinctions and that the talking points of the skeptics simply form a contrarian viewpoint, which is typical of a regressive or reactionary mindset. They don’t want things to change or they want things the way they were, and so will continue with the FUD to prevent progress.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Since adaptation/mitigation was mentioned, I have to share something I found a few days ago during some random internet browsing. It’s funny (emphasis mine):

        As many as 70 percent of extant species may become extinct if temperatures increase by more than 3 degrees Celsius per year.

        Personally, I suspect more than 70% of extant species will become extinct if temperatures increase by three degrees per year.

      • WebHubTelescope | December 26, 2011 at 4:28 am |
        Adaptation is a form of mitigation. Mitigation is risk reduction to those of us in business. Adapting is one way to reduce risk. Redundancy and alternatives are others. Why the knee-jerk response of the skeptics to make mitigation into only adaptation is puzzling. It makes the skeptics look like Malthusians.
        “Adapt or die” is downright Malthusian in comparison to comprehensive mitigation planning. It is possible that these are just meaningless distinctions and that the talking points of the skeptics simply form a contrarian viewpoint, which is typical of a regressive or reactionary mindset. They don’t want things to change or they want things the way they were, and so will continue with the FUD to prevent progress.

        WHT

        You state that ”the talking points of the skeptics simply form a contrarian viewpoint, which is typical of a regressive or reactionary mindset”.

        Actually, you are wrong on that. If you want to score points over your skeptical debating partners, you need to understand them and not simply write them off as bone-headed reactionaries.

        Rational skeptics in the scientific sense (and those are the ones who count) simply demand that hypotheses are backed by empirical evidence before they accept them as corroborated.

        Just as they would not accept a priori the claims of a creationist without such evidence, they would also reject claims of future catastrophic global warming from human CO2 emissions, unless these can be backed by empirical evidence supported by actual physical observations or reproducible experimentation.

        That is the crux of the disagreement here, WHT, not a “contrarian viewpoint, which is typical of a regressive or reactionary mindset”, as you surmise.

        And, until you recognize and address this, you will continue to spin your wheels in the debate.

        Max

      • Manacker, I do energy analysis with enough sophistication that you can only dream about. If you want to spin this to a climate science high school debate, that is just another rhetorical trick. As one of the recent climate etc posts stated, the administration is starting to substitute energy for climate as a policy watchword. Mitigation is clearly turning toward energy, and the progressives are on top of this shift. We also have to consider minerals, and natural resources such as aquifers, yet you want to see empirical evidence for AGW. You are clearly behind the curve. Conflicts evolve over natural resources, not climate, yet climate does play a role in decision criteria, just as species extinction considerations would.

        Bottomline is that the terms of the debate are off. IMO, AGW is only a factor in policy and energy is predominant in geopolitical risk mitigation strategies.

      • The best, and only effective, mitigation for climate change/AGW is to grow the world’s GDP as fast as possible with the resources we have in order that all the world’s bottom third of people economically are on a par with the poverty level defined in the US(rich by world standards). At that point we, as a world, will have the resources to flexibly address almost any global catastrophe short of a meteor or earthlquake that kiills more than 10% of the world population.

        Wealth and resources provide the cushion for a flexible response. With ~ 1/3 of the world’s population within 2 bad harvests of starvation we are still a long way from being able to mitigate large disasters.

      • lolwot,
        It is called “history”. That is a topic that that AGW believers and opinion makers seem to lack a grasp of.

  4. Thanks, Professor Curry, for this topic. I agree. Climate change, national security and conflict are connected – at least in the minds of world leaders.

    World War II ended with the atomic bomb that vaporized Hiroshima in 1945. The 1957 Sputnik satellite renewed fears of conflict and sparked the space race. Fears were heightened by the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. Fears in world leaders seem to be at the base of futile efforts to control information about:

    1. The Global Economy

    http://www.stansberryresearch.com/pub/reports/201112PSI_issue.html

    2. The Global Climate

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/Climategate_Roots.pdf

    3. Nuclear Energy

    http://arxiv.org/pdf/1102.1499v1

    The Nobel Peace Prize received by Al Gore, the UN’s IPCC, and an army of government scientists for erroneous information on #2 is thus intriguing.

    Today we are reminded that world leaders do not control Nature:

    http://dl.dropbox.com/u/10640850/No_Fear.pdf

    Merry Christmas and best wishes for the holidays!

  5. Will 21st century climate change cause human conflict? Sounds like we don’t currently know and I doubt we will find out in time.

    There’s a stack of questions like this including whether sea level rise will lead to disasters, whether ocean pH drop will lead to disaster. There are thousands of these important questions and I doubt even a handful will be answered in time.

    In which case it has to be acknowledged that waiting for the answers is not an acceptable move.

    There might be other reasons to wait 10 years but waiting for answers to impact questions might as well be a decision to not reduce emissions.

    • increased emissions of CO2 will make green things grow better while using less water. That is a huge plus.
      decreased emissions of CO2 will make green things grow slower while using more water.
      Earth don’t really care much about CO2 for temperature control. It is a trace gas and has a trace effect.
      Waiting to reduce emissions makes much more sense than doing something that is likely a really bad thing for earth and our economy.

      • “increased emissions of CO2 will make green things grow better while using less water. That is a huge plus.”

        Not necessarily. Think about it – you are saying that all plants in the whole world are going to be significantly altered at once. Obviously they aren’t going to be altered in exactly the same way. Entire ecosystems could overturn as currently dominant species lose out to currently weaker species which can exploit increase CO2 better. In turn this entails knock on effects on insects and the rest of the food chain as the underlying plant sources of food shift.

        And this is happening very fast. When was the last time CO2 in the atmosphere increased by hundreds of ppm in the space of two centuries?

        Is it really clear that the chaos of such a re-arrangement won’t result in severe problems?

        “Earth don’t really care much about CO2 for temperature control. It is a trace gas and has a trace effect.”

        A trace effect would be something akin to 0.01C warming per doubling. You know full well CO2 has a far more powerful effect on global temperature than that.

        “Waiting to reduce emissions makes much more sense than doing something that is likely a really bad thing for earth and our economy.”

        Frankly I don’t think you are competent enough on the matter for your opinion to matter.

      • lolwot,

        RE: Is it really clear that the chaos of such a re-arrangement won’t result in severe problems?

        No, it is not really clear. Neither is it really clear it will result in severe problems. And that is the point. The evidence that “something really bad” is going to happen just isn’t there, or isn’t any stronger than the evidence that “some good things” are more likely to happen.

        Just the fact that almost all news about climate change involves “something really bad” should tell you something. That there are no positive impacts from either a warmer climate or enriched concentration of CO2 being discussed defies reason.

    • lolwot,

      Sounds like you are advocating action based on insufficient information based on the possibility of some of the answers being bad.

      That is a very low threshold.

  6. Weather changes are reflected in the boom & bust of agriculture, small businesses and the bank loans that support both. Weather changes, and not climate changes influences the types of crops to be planted as well as when said crops ripen and are to be harvested. Studying the agricultural microeconomics yields a rich field of local impacts that are or are not mitigated by an underlying farm subsidy program and/or crop insurance. Does the farmer have access to loans to buy seed, fertilizer, equipment and labor? If not, then the local hardships can metastasize to the larger economy impairing loan guarantees to other investments. Conflicts, whether armed, political, ideological arise when access to capital at both local and regional levels is constricted in an ever widening circle of economic disarray. To understand generalized nation-on-nation conflicts, look to the local, mostly agricultural economy (wheat or rise prices) to identify when the weather changes are relevant in the outbreak of conflict. A bad crop in Wichita KS and a good crop in Davenport IA are not the sparks of another Civil War. Corn, soybean, wheat prices remained high because of an export market and internal food for oil (bioethanol) program. Loans generally stood up. Go a little further back in time to the Dust Bowl Era, the apparent “success” of the Soviet economic policies were perceived by many as an attractive alternative to the then hard time of low farm commodity prices and the US Government burning potatoes, for instance when people were starving, in an effort to raise commodity prices. There was a LOT of conflict and labor strife in our nation at that time. The connection of weather and commodity prices needs one more piece, the availability of loans. Consideration of these three pieces is needed to identify connections of impacts of climate changes. A very long time ago across Urasia &Europe, the gift/dowery of a peasant bride was duck feathers, for the bride to make a quilt to keep warm during the winter and serve as collateral for seed for spring planting. At harvest, the winter quilt was redeemed and interest paid. Not exactly Wall Street Banking, but the system of availability of loans tied to crop harvest tied to favorable weather was very direct and deadly if bad weather/poor harvest/pestilence occurred. Families would freeze to death with no down quilt against the winter cold. If one wants to see how weather and conflict are related, one can also look at local banking: i.e., the prosperity of pawn shops; economic health of itinerate horse and wagon merchants going from village to village; one does not have to wait for historical accounts of epic battles or wars. Just trace the availability of farm loans: simple book keeping. Chronicling farm loans will give insight into previous climate change. Going forward, farm loan availability is a way to keep track of the health of any farm/economic policy.

  7. Bar bar.
    =====

  8. “However, panelists were careful to place their conclusions within the large landscape of the still uncertain; in this way, the event served to highlight the fact that the emerging links between climate, conflict, and national security are far from being thoroughly understood, and that more research is necessary.”

    Why start from question what in history has demonstrated a reduction in conflict and/or increase in national security.

    Some have argued that the invention of the nuclear weapon has reduced
    conflict. Obviously we have had nuclear weapons we only used them as bombs in war, twice. And have not used hydrogen bombs in warfare.

    Can we say that empires throughout history have generally reduced conflicts and increased national security. Can this be said in regard to Chinese empire and/or Roman empire.

    Perhaps many people associate empires as a cause of more conflict with say the Nazi or Soviet effort of building empires, or Iranian current efforts in doing so, it indicates quite the opposite. One could therefore say it’s a bit of mixed bag in this regard.
    One could say that empires generally can be associated with increased security, reduction warfare, and an increase in wealth. Empires are described in terms types of building made, art developed, various other aspects of “culture”. Empires can be also associated with trade and specialization labor, e.g pottery is made, used within the empire and traded beyond the empire. An empire can defined as means of allowing internal trade within certain boundaries. And if you two empires trading with each others, one classify them as being a single unit.
    One could say that empire are “all about” maintaining security within certain regions, and whenever and whoever this security is not maintained, one the being of the end of the empire.
    Therefore one can define an empire as region which attempting to maintain security, the purpose being to continue the empire and the continuation of wealth and culture.

    The story of history involving the creation of wealth, the development of culture, and internal trade [as well as external trade] is synonyms with empires. And military power is the means used to maintain or expand the empire, due to military power or less organized conflict disrupting security and trade.

    It seems that weather can interrupt various activity depending on weather- activity related to farming being most obvious. Therefore sudden changes in climate [or a lot bad weather] can interfere with trade- one can get food shortages. But this tendency of weather causing food shortages in the modern world is associate nation which have less trade and less security. That simple irrigation can do much to make a farmer less dependent of weather and that more sophisticated irrigation can greater affect. And that a highly developed system of trade can distribution needed food to areas which have disaster weather. Thereby allowing hurricanes, tornadoes, 100 year floods to occur and not having as much discomfort [or death] as in less wealthy nations.

  9. “Perhaps many people associate empires as a cause of more conflict with say the Nazi or Soviet effort of building empires, or Iranian current efforts in doing so”

    Why did I double take at that sentence?

    • You were persistent – I made a hasty exit after the first take..

    • Why did I double take at that sentence?

      Not sure.
      I would say most of history is taught at elementary level amounts to wars mostly involve empires. Wars mostly seen as bad- or unnecessary or bad mistakes on both sides.
      But for example most people wouldn’t bother to even think of the EU as an empire.
      Mainly I suppose because it lacks a significant military [it is dependent on US military].
      The Nazi and Soviet empire had little to do with trade. Soviet ideology was opposition to free trade. For both Nazi and Soviet empires “trade” policy was based on using military power.

      Perhaps, Nazi or Soviets once they had achieved world domination would changed their policies, but they would have never would never have realistically have achieved this, so it’s a moot point.

      Socialist countries tend do things which inhibit trade- this is due to policy that is result of their ideology.
      China, though a socialist country, was persuaded to altered it’s socialist policy and has been transformed as a result.

  10. Essentially, all the work cited suggests that in poor, ill-governed countries, where crop failures can cause social and economic stress, bad growing/harvesting seasons can add to the stress. Nothing new there. Nor is there anything new in the solution: economic and social development, good governance. In the period of rapid world growth over the last 60 years, billions have come out of poverty and conflicts are at an historic low. Yet CAGW proponents want to destroy the very basis of that peace and prosperity with costly anti-emissions measures.

    If those cited were serious about the well-being of those in poorer countries, they would not recommend measures which reduce economic growth. Attempts to link war and civil strife to (ever-present) “climate change” seem to be a desperate response to the fact that governments and the public are giving less credence to the warming scare stories and the drastic measures sought to address them. Pathetic, IMHO.

  11. I find this quote from Busby just a trifle odd :
    “What kinds of ideas might lead to transformational change that would make people’s lives better? Scientific and technological breakthroughs such as a vaccine for AIDS or a microbe that takes carbon dioxide out of the air could help us resolve some of the most pressing problems.”

    • “.. a microbe that takes carbon dioxide out of the air could help us resolve some of the most pressing problems”

      Yeah, right… are you out of your mind? Such a microbe could very well end all life on this planet, but itself. What if it could not be stopped or controlled? And just how do you envision us stopping such of a plague if ever loosed? I think your idea is one of the most nightmarish ideas I have ever heard of and that is exactly why I stay reading and writing to keep an eye on these AGW totting manipulate-climate imbeciles as you seem to be with that comment above.

    • Sorry mct, I thought you were putting that idea forward. Please excuse and redirect my comment.

      • hey if the microbe turns CO2 into carbohydrate I’m all for it. Eat it, burn it….

        a microbe that rapidly fixes CO2 into carbonates, well, fear that one.

  12. I think it is pretty clear from the record that climate can change drastically in short periods of time. It seems reasonable for someone to think about what we are going to do when that happens again, as it surely will. How do we handle a case where maybe Canada is unable to produce a grain crop and Russia’s is possibly greatly reduced?

    I think the situation we need to concern ourselves with is how we handle a drastic cooling of the climate that happens very quickly. What changes can we make in policy to increase the amount of food available? I don’t think we have to concern ourselves too much with adaptation to a warming as I think the record clearly shows that sudden cooling is not infrequent and the consequences are severe and relatively immediate. One cold day can kill an entire crop. Crops can tolerate a day a few degrees above normal. They can’t tolerate a June frost.

    One single day can throw the world into turmoil, a single bad summer can throw it into catastrophe. We need to think about how we might respond. Do we have plans on the shelf to immediately end ethanol quotas so that grain may be diverted to food use?

    There is enough of a record that shows us that in a period of weak solar cycles, temperatures are more likely to cool than to war. There are also some cyclical patterns visible in the record. So imagine a time when things are “lined up” to produce a cool period and then we get a volcanic eruption that amplifies that. Do we have a plan in place right now that can be pulled off the shelf and implemented? Do we have a set of policies that can be put into place immediately? Stop ethanol mandates, stop grazing restrictions, stop clearing restrictions for farmlands, produce incentives to increase farm production in warmer areas through whatever means we might have available starting with the elimination of current regulations that inhibit that activity.

    Then how do we handle a starving China and Russia? How do we help them survive the crisis so they are not forced into desperate actions? How do we deal with a sudden increase in energy consumption to keep warm?

    History tells us that we are much more likely to suffer a climate crisis of unexpected rapid cooling than gradual warming. History shows us that gradual warming is generally desired. It is sudden unexpected cooling that could lead to social and political upheaval.

  13. the event served to highlight the fact that the emerging links between climate, conflict, and national security are far from being thoroughly understood, and that more research is necessary.

    Heh, they just need to read a little history.

    Warm periods are associated with high culture, plenty of surplus food and rising populations.

    Cold periods are associated with famine, disease, war and death.

    The end.

  14. @WHT re Dec 26 4:28am

    The nesting here makes it impossible to reply to your reply in sequence,unhappily

    Your quotes:

    >Adaptation is a form of mitigation. Mitigation is risk reduction to those of us in business. Adapting is one way to reduce risk. Redundancy and alternatives are others. Why the knee-jerk response of the skeptics to make mitigation into only adaptation is puzzling. It makes the skeptics look like Malthusians.<

    1) Mitigation is one form of adaptation. (I'm in business too, and I know the truth of this from hard experience). My point, which your rhetoric evaded, is that all the mitigation proposals for AGW that I have managed to read are simply not practical. I wonder if your evasion of this central point in my post is just another knee-jerk, do you think ?

    2) "the talking points of the skeptics simply form a contrarian viewpoint, which is typical of a regressive or reactionary mindset"

    This is just post-modern gobbledegook – again, the point is practical mitigation (which reducing standards of living is not), not wishing things to remain the same. [That accusation makes me smile - my whole career has been about changing things, often at personal expense]

    3) What adaptation strategies do I think may be practical ? Nuclear and hydro techniques for power to cities and industries. Wind and solar are both trivial and onordinately expensive. The issue of transport is very vexed – I haven't seen a practical solution at all to that; perhaps you have one, minus rhetoric of course ?

    • Adaptation is a form of mitigation. Those two you mentioned, nuclear and hydro, are alternatives. So to mitigate the risk of depleting our fossil fuel reserves, we consider alternative energy strategies.

      If I wrote a business plan which said the business would adapt to risks, that would be viewed as too wishy-washy. However, if I labeled clear alternatives as risk mitigators, it would be viewed much more favorably.
      You see how the terminology works?

      • Forcing a choice between a dichotomy of adaptation or mitigation is not useful. Think of Eli Rabett’s five fold way

        Adaptation to deal with the damage already done
        Amelioration, eliminating harmful effects of our actions
        Conservation with needed and desired but not wasteful usage
        Substitution of green systems for destructive ones
        Mitigation reversing our thoughtless abuse

        Conservation includes energy efficiency, amelioration covers such things as CO2 capture and storage, substitution increased nuclear, solar, and wind energy replacing fossil fuels, mitigation is reserved for things that actually decrease the concentrations of greenhouse gases and reverse damaging land use changes.

  15. The triangle isn’t between climate, conflict, and national security; rather energy and natural resources takes the link of climate. Nations don’t fight over climate.
    Something is amiss when energy is not mentioned once in the top-level post. Kind of a naive world-view, IMO.

    • Yes it’s funny that.
      The hypothesis is that a small increase in average global temperature has the potential – by some unspecified mechanism – to increase conflict, yet the very real threat of scarce and expensive energy is entirely discounted in the equation.
      Probably because most, if not all, of the existing proposals to mitigate climate change will result in scarce and expensive energy.

    • WHT
      Yes, ignoring the dominance of transport fuels when addressing conflicts is extremely naive. More than “energy”, the critical issue is conflict over transport fuels. e.g.
      Oil & WWII

      In addition to military support, the US, Britain, and the Netherlands East Indies initiated oil and steel embargos against Japan in August 1941.
      Moving Towards War with the US

      The American oil embargo caused a crisis in Japan. Reliant on the US for 80% of its oil, the Japanese were forced to decide between withdrawaling from China, negotiating an end to the conflict, or going to war to obtain the needed resources elsewhere.

      The Role of Synthetic Fuel In World War II Germany –
      implications for today?
      Dr. Peter W. Becker

      The need to provide the lacking 1.9 million barrels per month and the urgency to gain possession of the Russian oil fields in the Caucasus mountains, together with Ukrainian grain and Donets coal, were thus prime elements in the German decision to invade the Soviet Union in June 1941.

      Similarly, the prospects of a tyrant controlling 40% of the world’s oil were probably primary strategic factors in the gulf wars against Saddam Hussein.

      Though it exports oil, Iran imports its transport fuels. Therefore it has been converting its vehicles to run on natural gas – to reduce dependence on imports during expected conflicts. See Turning Oil Into Salt p 54.

      • Yes, it has been well known in military circles that WWII was basically a war for oil as far as the Pacific campaign and the “Eastern Front” campaigns are concerned. Both the Japanese and the Germans failed for different reasons. The Japanese failed only because they called off the third attack wave on Pearl Harbor as they did not know where our carriers were, they were feeling vulnerable to being discovered and attacked. The third wave was given the task of eliminating all fuel storage and other logistics depots. Had they succeeded in wiping out the fuel storage at Pearl Harbor, all operations would have had to cease and the fleet would have had to be pulled back to the West Coast of the US. We simply didn’t have the tanker capacity at the time to handle operations out of Pearl by tanker logistics.

        The Germans could have succeeded in the East had the political leader accepted the recommendation of his generals and bypassed such major cities as Stalingrad, surrounding them but moving beyond and simply waiting them out. Instead, entire armies were wasted in reducing these cities to rubble in hopes of gaining a propaganda victory at the expense of a military victory. This stalling allowed the Russians more time to build up powerful forces deep inside Russia. When these were finally unleashed against a nearly spent German army, well, we know the result.

        Iran’s fuel importing days are nearly over. They have nearly completed some of the largest oil refineries in the world. I believe they have seven of them either under construction or completed with one of them going online in the past year. Iran also acts as a proxy oil port for Russia. Russia has a pipeline to Iran’s North where there are several refineries. One may purchase Russian oil for loading in Iran. Russia sends the oil to Iran via the pipeline to Iran’s refineries, Iran simply exchanges that for their oil that they load on your tanker. That way Iran doesn’t have to ship the oil from its oil fields in the South to the refineries in the North, they effectively do that by substituting their oil for Russian contract oil and acting as a Persian Gulf port of Russia. That is another reason why Russia and Iran have a mutual defense pact.

    • Olivier Rech – A former IEA researcher – now speaks freely: December 20, 2011 with sobering news! (Google translation of French original)

      The oil will decline slightly after 2015, according to a former expert of the International Atomic Energy . . .
      Olivier Rech has developed scenarios of oil the International Atomic Energy Agency (IEA) for three years until 2009. . . .
      Outside OPEC, things are clear: over 40 million barrels per day (b / d) of conventional oil extracted from existing fields, we are faced with an annual decline of around 1 to 2 Mb / d.
      You think it is close to the decline of 5% per year of existing production evoked by Shell?
      Yes, that’s about it.
      . . .
      The production of all oil is already on a plateau since 2005, around 82 Mb / d. [Editor's note: with biofuels and conversion of coal into liquid fuel, we arrive at 88 Mb / d]. I find it impossible to go much further. Since the request, it should continue to increase (except, perhaps, if the crisis spread to the emerging economies), I expect to see the initial tensions by 2013-2015.
      Then what?
      Then, in my opinion, it will be a decline in production over the period 2015 to 2020.

    • Concur.

  16. ‘A microbe that takes Carbon Dioxide out of the air’. Good thought, and I’m glad you mentioned it; it had slipped my mind. I’ll get inventing a plant kingdom on God’s to do list ASAP.
    =============

    • Done, it was simple really. It turns out that God has subcontracted that to the Department of Defense, anticipating that Busby would eventually go to work for them. Mysteriously, the wonders are performed.
      ============

      • My microbe removes both nuisance GHGs CO2 and water vapor. CO2 + H20 -> H2CO3. Energy barrier is overcome by dancing farandolae in the mitochondria. Happy Ice-Nine!

  17. Arrgh, Its the pirates aggravating the data aggregation. This was all documented in the Da Vinci code as predicted by Nostradamus after his secret translation of the Mayan calendar after a dinner of his special mushroom soup.

    Totally believable! I have a west Indian mahogany tree ring series that appears to lead the stock market by 10 years if anyone would like to invest in further research :)

    Happy Boxing Day!

  18. Deconstructing the final paragraph, we get the following …

    o Climate change and natural disaster impacts [are] accelerants that can exacerbate existing sources of instability.
    o Climate change and natural disasters are not intrinsic security threats.
    o Climate change impacts can serve as multiplier stressors on potentially already-unstable conditions.
    o Natural hazards can serve as multiplier stressors on potentially already-unstable conditions.
    o Climate change impacts can disrupt components of a country (infrastructure, health, governance systems, etc.).
    o Natural hazards can disrupt components of a country (infrastructure, health, governance systems, etc.).
    o Climate change impacts can result in destabilized conditions.
    o Natural hazards can result in destabilized conditions.
    o Destabilized conditions may result in conflict, migration, terrorism, and humanitarian disasters.

    So, climate change is no different from natural disasters and each acts to exacerbate “existing sources of instability.” Reducing or eliminating “existing sources of instability” is a political/economic problem, not a scientific one.

    Or … working to reduce or eliminate “climate change” won’t eliminate the problem because “natural disasters” will continue to cause “destabilized conditions.”

  19. Global climate change has the potential to significantly undermine the resource base upon which people have built their livelihoods and socio-political institutions, thus potentially contributing to armed conflict or violent social unrest.

    This statement is rather general and apparently not definitively founded.

    Although the article concedes “what we know definitively about climate and the risk of conflict is actually quite limited”, there are several good historical examples of how periods of extended below-normal temperatures with harsher winters, colder summers and shorter growing seasons, with resulting crop failures and famines have contributed “to armed conflict or violent social unrest”.

    Following the Roman Optimum, a period that was warmer than today (when Hannibal crossed the Alps with elephants) came the climate shift that started the migrations of entire peoples from harsher to friendlier climates, which led (among other things) to the fall of Rome and the Dark Ages.

    After a period of relative peace and prosperity during the Medieval Warm Period, which was also slightly warmer than today, a similar period of severe cold occurred during the Little Ice Age. Most severe were the recorded crop failures and famines around the Maunder Minimum.

    It appears that the historical record does not show such periods of unrest during times of warmer climate.

    IMO it is very doubtful that climate plays too much of a role today but, if so, the record shows that a colder climate would probably be more harmful than a warmer one.

    IOW if the current decade of slight cooling were to continue and the cooling trend were even to accelerate, one might start being concerned about climate change “potentially contributing to armed conflict or violent social unrest”. Otherwise, I would not be too concerned.

    Max

  20. Climate change does not cause conflict, lack of resources a society depends upon for survival does. Sometimes these may be related to weather/climate (particularly those times when it became difficult to grow crops) but just as many others are from restrictions on economic trade leading to loss of prosperity. In fact I’d maintain that European history has a large number of examples of both but many of the modern conflicts are related to restriction on economic activity. How ironic is it that the Europeans solution to climate change is nothing more than a massive restriction on such economic activity. Most recently, the Arab spring was believed to be sparked by a spike in the price of wheat leading to food riots initially that turned political against long standing dictatorships. Were recent food price spikes a consequence of biofuel policies that diverted a substantial amount of arable land for fuel production?

  21. “In this context, I particularly like the work that Josh Busby is doing”

    The security issues and his analysis of security issues cannot be separated from his overall analysis and priorities, without becoming incoherent.

    The context of Busby’s work in security is not separable from his priorities, expertise, influence and role in related areas of climate change policy work. Busby is very, very clear that baselines for emissions reductions are crucial. And like most analysts leading up to and also post-Copenhagen, he observers the increasing proliferation of bilateral and multilateral agreements for emissions reductions as well as the continuing role of policy work with UNFCCC going forward.

    It would be interesting to consider some alliance with progressives since for all kinds of reasons that are very different from any of your arguments, many agree that limiting international frameworks to the work of the U.N. has not served the needs of vulnerable nations very well.

    Busby’s priorities since Copenhagen have been developing infrastructure for the $100 billion in yearly funding that developed nations pledged to mobilize for vulnerable regions by 2020, and infrastructure and legislation in America for emissions cuts.

    • Fortunately Busby’s priorities are unrealistic. The interesting question is whether his research has any real value in the context of real weather and climate. He may be doing the right thing for the wrong reasons.

    • John Carpenter

      $100 billion dollars a year…. never ceases to amaze me. All because the overly cerebral feel guilty about living in societies that allow them to think about such things.

      Yes Martha, in your world apparently Santa Clause is coming.

    • Martha,
      Your claim about Busby’s work- or anyone’s- is utter bs.
      Anyone can have their work separated from their obsessions or other problems.
      You are probably a competent academic in your area of expertise. Sadly that competence does not filter over to climate issues, where your bigotry and reactionary attitude blinds you to critical thinking.

    • Newsflash of Horrifying Import: Busby has decided that playing with a hundred billion dollars in Monopoly money is more important than inventing a CO2 eating microbe. We’re all doomed without a plant kingdom! What are we gonna do, Lobster Lady Tuidsmere?
      ===============

  22. The problem with this research is that it is being done because of a misguided national policy that accepts CAGW. So it feeds into and supports that policy, as does a lot of climate research. In itself the research topic might be useful, given the huge amounts spent on disaster relief and peacekeeping, but that is not why the research is being done.

  23. Given these caveats, the title of the study is perhaps a bit misleading, but the authors do recognize all these limitations in the text.

    Interestingly, our old friend Anthony Watts responded to the study by putting up a sarcastic post that de-emphasized caveats stated by the authors. And he wasn’t exactly pleased that I pointed out his failure to appropriately recognize that the stated in the text (apparently that was the kind of “thread-jacking” offense that led him to make a false accusation against me, not allow me to post a defense, and to call me a “coward,” edit my posts, and then put me into “moderation.” ).

    And, of course, comment after comment by “skeptics” similarly ignoring the stated caveats ensued.

    It almost makes you think that some “skeptics” are more interesting in undermining certain types of analyses then they are in discussing their validity.

    But, of course, we all know that only “warmists” engage in such behavior.

    • “(apparently that was the kind of “thread-jacking” offense that led him to make a false accusation against me, not allow me to post a defense, and to call me a “coward,” edit my posts, and then put me into “moderation.” ).”

      Surely that can’t be true. I heard Wattsupwithit is a paragon of open debate.

    • Joshua –
      But, of course, we all know that only “warmists” engage in such behavior.
      I think what we ‘know’ in the sense that it seems eminently likely, is that such behaviour is equally likely throughout the political and climatic spectrum. That being so – and being something you have often agreed with, I wonder at your fervent mission to observe that it occurs at one particular end of the debate. Is it continuously rewarding to do so? Are you learning much?

      • Anteros –

        I think what we ‘know’ in the sense that it seems eminently likely, is that such behaviour is equally likely throughout the political and climatic spectrum.

        Interesting comment.

        It isn’t only something that is “eminently” likely. It is observable behavior.

        And so, your comment is, ironically, the type of comment that prompts me to write posts like the one above.

        The reasons why I point such behavior among “skeptics” out (I think that “fervent mission” is a tad over-stated, are: (1) I frequently read at sites such as this one that such behavior is exclusive to “warmists,” (2) when I do read acknowledgement of such behavior among “skeptics” at sites such as this one, it is frequently accompanied with moral equivocation explaining how (supposedly) there is a “vast asymmetry” in such behaviors on the different sides of the debate, (3) I rarely read “skeptics” pointing out such behavior among “skeptics,” leading me to question whether many “skeptics” are actually skeptics, or just “skeptics.”

        As I recall, when I pointed out to Anthony the deceptive nature of his post, I was the only commenter who did so. Rather shocking for a group that call themselves “skeptics,” don’t you think?

        And BTW – for an example of true skepticism, and the value of reasoned analytical discourse regarding skepticism about studies related to the impact of climate change, I suggest reading the post Judith alluded to, and the related comments.

        http://www.edwardrcarr.com/opentheechochamber/2011/08/25/conflict-and-el-nino-how-did-this-get-through-peer-review/#comments

      • I read that previously. Both protagonists are hyperventilating. Then they get tired after a while.

      • It is true though that skeptic blogs generally are more open for comment allowing anyone to comment. Warmist blogs tend to moderate/ban people a lot more.

      • BillC –

        I read that previously. Both protagonists are hyperventilating. Then they get tired after a while.

        OK – maybe “reasoned analytical discourse” was a bit over-stated. There was hyperbola involved.

        But at least they could get to some substantive discussion of the criticism with some interesting points made; something that is sorely lacking, in general, in the blogosphere.

      • lolwot –

        It is true though that skeptic blogs generally are more open for comment allowing anyone to comment. Warmist blogs tend to moderate/ban people a lot more.

        I’m not sure how one would go about substantiating that claim with evidence. And even if it were possible, I wonder whether to do so wouldn’t essentially be an exercise in “Mommy, mommyism.”

      • John Carpenter

        “I rarely read “skeptics” pointing out such behavior among “skeptics,” leading me to question whether many “skeptics” are actually skeptics, or just “skeptics.”

        Joshua, you and I both don’t tend to reply to commenters who take positions which, in general, we are sympathetic to (note: I did not say ‘agree’ with). What do you expect?… and why do you expect it from others? Just human nature, cause it’s a bit like arguing with yourself.

      • Joshua –
        This nesting is somehow appropriate, because I now feel a meta-comment coming on. Your response listed some behaviours that lead you to exclusively (here) point out the lack of consistency in one side of a debate at the same time as acknowledging the ubiquity of the behaviour. I feel we’re in the same place we were after my first observation.
        I could equally point you to “I rarely read ‘warmists’ pointing out such behaviour among ‘warmists as a reason for exclusively advising warmists of their inconsistency. Surely, without any asymmetry, you’re left with a shrug and ‘I’m just looking from a tribal perspective’ which is fine, but I don’t sense that’s what you advertise yourself as doing. Perhaps that’s naivety on my part.

        Yes – fervent might not be appropriate, but 300-odd comments a week mostly in one direction is, at least, quite keen..

        I think you know as well as I do that Humean (or more modern forms of) skepticism is not what Anthony’s crowd (or more than a miniscule number in the whole debate) are about. And if you were genuinely a descriptivist in your understanding of language you would not feel the need to say anyone is or isn’t a skeptic or any other kind of thing. So putting inverted commas round a word is revealed to be just rhetoric – an attempt to discredit and ridicule. Much simpler to describe more honestly – people that (for good reasons or otherwise) don’t believe all the consensus forecasts of doom. Doubters, non-believers, very unconvinced, even denialist if you see that on display… I’m not sure who started using the label ‘skeptic’ but I doubt it was anyone who writes at WUWT.

        I somehow feel that attacking the label that people use is a bit superficial for you. Except as an occasional diversion, perhaps.

        You might think of this as a compliment. Obviously only you know what you most enjoy, but it strikes me that you could be engaging with more substantive aspects of this ‘debate’ than the inconsistency of people who you can clearly observe doing precious little ‘thinking’ in the first place.

        I haven’t looked at the link you provided yet, but I will.

      • “And so, your comment is, ironically, the type of comment that prompts me to write posts like the one above.”

        You don’t need anything to prompt you to write the whinging crap with which you bombard the venues that will tolerate your droning self-righteous scolding. You are a thread-jacking BORING coward, and you do belong in moderation. Now thank me for reading your posts, pinhead.

      • Don –

        You are a thread-jacking BORING coward, and you do belong in moderation.

        I thank you for enabling me to further my nefarious goals: to prevent the brilliant analysis of :”skeptical” insight from being presented to the public. Why, without the constant repetition from “skeptics'” comments on blogs, about the AGW-cabal of socialist/communist/fascist/eco-zealot/capitalism-hating climate scientists and their co-conspirators, I fear that the house of AGW cards might crumble beyond repair. By responding to my posts, you are aiding me in my attempts to “distract” “skeptics” from their important work here at Climate Etc.

        You might consider your assistance by writing one post in response to be small, but I assure you that each nanosecond of delay I create before you and your “skeptical” brethren post your next comment is a nanosecond with import that is impossible to over-state.

        I know that me and my co-conspirators could never thank you enough, but I hope that you will take this expression of appreciation in the spirit with which it is offered.

      • Don,
        I don’t know where this comment will post in the thread.
        Your post is a better explanation than mine as to why my early New Year’s resolution is to ignore the one trick trolls like Joshua and the self tracking idiot.

      • Joshua,

        Perhaps you want to talk about the issue of power.

        1. we see a whole spectrum of “moderating” behavior on sites from both sides. We can get down to the nitty gritty differences, but that’s just
        counting coup.

        2. Focusing on the gatekeeping at blogs, is a diversion from the real issue: gatekeeping of science. is it done, by whom, and is it defensible.

        3. Focusing on institutional power.

        ##################################
        The nitty gritty of blogs.

        The issue of moderation at blogs is a symbolic issue. It’s symbolic of the real issue. From my experience.

        1. Both sides have examples various moderation policies, rules of the road.
        2. Both sides have examples of outright banning
        3. Moderation free sites, tend to be more skeptical.
        4. Only one side,In my experience, has documented cases of the blog owner editing
        comments.
        5. Only one side,In my experience, has a policy of deliberately mangling the comments of the opposing side.
        6. Only one side, in my experience, has a practice of disallowing
        peacemaking comments.

        People use the commenting policies as a metaphor for the institutional practices. I think its weak to argue by metaphor because the literal evidence is much clearer. But essentially you see how the argument goes. If not, I’ll detail it. This is merely for illustrative purposes.

        One side, the one with institutional power, crushes dissent. They do that as an institution and they do that as individuals. As an institution they threaten members with expulsion, as individuals they ban posters.
        As an institution, they fantasize about doing harm to their enemies ( shoot them into space, blow them up) as individuals they symbolically disfigure what their opponents say.

        There is also a strange ethical/rhetorical asymmetry at play. We expect those with institutional power to operate from the higher ground. So, while employees at NOAA get reprimanded for doing cartoons of skeptics, skeptics are “allowed” to make fun of those with institutional power.
        Satire, Irony, humor are rhetorical devices that those in power cannot really use effectively. As I have argued before, it’s not because those in power cannot be funny, it’s rather that they cannot effectively use humor,satire,irony as a rhetorical device. They can use it to build tribal identity, but cannot use it as a tool against their opponents. Weird but true. Now that I’ve said that, I’m sure there will be interesting counter examples. Time for research on humor and power.

      • Moshe, I’ve long hoped that this whole mess would end in ridicule, and not in anger, but Peter Bocking, Manchester jazz guitarist, explained to me that too many people have died already. It is becoming clear that we will need full measures of both ridicule and anger. What’s difficult is to do both in one comment.
        ===========

      • Mosher states the nsalient points….and perhaps it is a good time to note that he has become the object of a very spoecific hate post at a truther site. All those folk gathering around to add to the pile of hate…all fact free of course, because you expect that from truthers

      • Peter –

        Joshua, have you noticed just how far this thread has diverged from the original topic, starting from your comment at 9:17am?

        Have you noticed that the reason that the thread has diverged “off-topic” is that “skeptics” have whined incessantly about my 9:17 and subsequent posts, and that their whining is what primarily comprises the “off-topic divergence?”

        Have I forced anyone to respond to my 9:17, or subsequent posts? No.

        Do I hold other people responsible for my actions? No.

        Do “conservatives” often claim to be advocates for “personal responsibility?” Yes.

        Is the logic displayed by the succession of “of-topic” posts about my “off-topic” post typical of the logic we often see at “skeptical” websites? Yes.

        (And Anteros – for your benefit I will add that, IMO, it is not logic that is particularly characteristic of one side of the climate debate in contrast to the other).

      • Joshua, Oo, you’re good! ;-)

      • Then perhaps you should pay closer attention.

        I’ve done so repeatedly.

      • Anteros,
        Joshua is a one-trick troll. Feeding him is a waste of time and effort. The next time he has something new to say will be his first. Engaging with him is to allow him to hijack conversations, if not entire threads.
        Just walk past him.

      • Yeah, Anteros –

        What prevents you from seeing the obvious? Hunter’s clear analysis is obviously exactly correct.

        Which is why he frequently responds to my posts, and oft’ times comments to others about my posts informing them that they should just ignore my posts so as to not allow me to “hijack” a thread.

        Because he thinks my posts should be ignored, not responded to, and not commented on.

        Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the logic of a “skeptic.”

      • Joshua, have you noticed just how far this thread has diverged from the original topic, starting from your comment at 9:17am?
        If that doesn’t fit the description of “thread hijacking”, then it comes pretty close, wouldn’t you say?

      • Joshua –
        Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the logic of a “skeptic.”

        Here’s my point. For all your claims that you see no asymmetry in the climate debate, every other comment you makes belies a different belief. The above is incompatible with someone who genuinely believes such logic exists equally across a whole spectrum, is it not?
        You’re not saying “Hunter, your logic is up the spout”. Instead you’re saying (and ridiculing with your inverted commas) “the logic of ‘skeptics’ is up the spout”
        I think you should aim higher!

    • John Carpenter

      Joshua, you just have to get over this and move on. I hope you have been developing some new material for 2012.

      • John –

        I hope you have been developing some new material for 2012.

        Only five days to find out.

        As a bit of a preview, I suggest that you don’t hold your breath.

      • Joshua and Kim’s NY resolutions to understand climate.

    • Moderation?? – you must be mistaken. That only happens at RC, where academics in their ivory towers defend the concensus from those who seek nothing but the truth.

    • Joshua, I’v just discovered why Santa doesn’t like you: you intend to impose carbon tax to Santa’s toy factory and methane tax for Rudolf

    • Josh,

      It’s difficult for me to read the Hsing paper and conclude it means anything other than it being an exercise in manipulating numbers in order to produce a paper, with the primary driving factor being “publish or die”.

      One goes where the grant money is and conflict appears to be a possibly burgeoning field. Personally, I believe it is a waste on money to try to determine links between climate change and conflict when the root causes (and the solutions) are already pretty well understood.

  24. “2) Economic shocks, as a form of deprivation, almost certainly heighten the risk of internal war.”

    Finally, an admission that decarbonization has a downside. The economic shock of decarbonizing the world economy, plunging the developing world ever deeper into poverty, could result in wars world wide. Sounds about right to me.

    Somebody oughtta do a study.

  25. I don’t see anything remotely controversial here. It seems blindingly obvious that when individuals are comfortable they are less inclined to pick a fight.

    Historians tell us that the “Age of Revolution” (the latter part of the 18th century) was driven by economic hardship traceable to cold weather. Thirteen famines during the 1700s in France alone! No wonder the peasants got a little peeved.

    • That’s normally the case, however some people get bored with affluence and look for a “cause”. The 9/11 hijackers come to mind; affluent and educated. Another “cause” comes to mind, too.

  26. Now the researchers are gona find that a raise in temperatures of a couple degrees, maybe, in the min temp (at night) in the Arctic drove the late Saddam Husein to such a degree of desperation and madness that he invaded Iran in 1980 and Kuwait in 1990. We never knew what a couple of degrees are capable of.
    But wait… wasn’t 1980 at the end of a cooling period? So it must have been the cooling, then. We need some more research.

  27. “Using data from 1950 to 2004, we show that the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Niño years relative to La Niña years. This result, which indicates that ENSO may have had a role in 21% of all civil conflicts since 1950, is the first demonstration that the stability of modern societies relates strongly to the global climate.”

    It is good to recall that AR4 and other research has so far found no evidence at all that the amplitude or frequancy of El Niño or La Niña phases of ENSO may have any correlation with global warming. See for instance AR4 GW1 report:
    “Therefore, there are no clear indications at this time regarding future changes in El Niño amplitude in a warmer climate” and moreover “there is no consistent indication at this time of discernible future changes in ENSO amplitude or frequency” (AR4 WG1, p.780).
    According to Guilyardi et al 2009, current climate models do not predict a persistent ENSO even after forcing CO2 concentrations one order of magnitude above current values, i.e. more than 3900 ppm since current values are about 390 ppm. That is far more than the levels of concentration resulting from all available climate scenarios and models; no foreseeable amount of anthropogenic GHG emissions would produce such extreme CO2 (or CO2 equivalent) concentrations, even in the most extreme scenarios of anthropogenic climate change (which are barely above 1000 ppm).
    Reference
    Guilyardi, Eric, A.Wittenberg, A.Fedorov, M.Collins, C.Wang, A.Capotondi, G.J. van Oldenborgh & T. Stockdale, 2009a. Understanding El Niño in Ocean-Atmosphere General Circulation Models: progress and challenges. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.

    Up to now, the most intense El Niño period on record is 1985-1915, and in every occasion the effects lasted for only 1-2 years. This may have caused some conflicts in very poor and arid regions, but there is no evidence of a trend towards an increase in the intensity or duration of such episodes.

  28. In addition to my previous comment on ENSO. oscillations between El Niño and La Niña are a matter of weather, not climate. That more conflicts arise in El Niño than La Niña years refers to short-term weather phenomena. There is no evidence of systematic change in the frequency of El Niño (in general, or relative to La Niña) years on a “climate” timescale (typically 30- year periods on which mean and variability are measured). More specifically, there is no evidence of any tendency for El Niño/La Niña ratios to INCREASE in parallel to GHG atmospheric concentrations.

    • Were the famines in 18th century France caused by weather or by climate? Pure semantics; no matter what you call it the peasants were short of food and not too impressed when Marie Antoinette said “Let them eat cake!”.

    • Clearly NO. There are 30-year (and longer) periods with more El Ninos and less La Ninas and vice versa. ENSO shows trends at “climatic” time scales. For example, the Multivariante ENSO Index, 1950 to present:

  29. This article is yet another example of how cliamte science in the age of AGW is trying to find a meaningful role and is failing in the effort.
    A question that comes to mind is this:
    Since climate has been defined before the age of AGW as multi-decade, long term changes, when did ‘climate science’ become redefined as seasonal or even singular weather events, and when did meteorologists become incapable of providing good information regarding weather?

  30. Also, people a lot of times conflict over things that have nothing to do with the climate or the weather.

    Andrew

    • B A,
      You miss this point: In the age of AGW , everything is explained by AGW.
      AGW is the unobtanium of science: The magic compound that can solve all problems:

      http://james-camerons-avatar.wikia.com/wiki/Unobtanium

      Too much snow? AGW. Too little? AGW. Peace? AGW. War? AGW. Famine? AGW. Too much rain? AGW. Drought? AGW. Warm? AGW. Cool? AGW. Cold? AGW. Hot? AGW.
      No God? Look to AGW: It can explain everything, and look all sciencey while doing it.

      • hunter,

        I get that completely. I just think we need to remind each other, every once in awhile, of what is real amidst all the infohypeism where it obviously has been lost.

        Andrew

      • BA,
        Good point. AGW is anathema to realistic problem solving.

  31. The same scenarios that generate future climate change also typically assume high levels of economic growth in Africa and other developing regions. If development is consistent with these projections, the risk of conflict will lessen over time as economies develop and democratic institutions spread.

    There are a couple of unsupported political science hobby horses in that paragraph:

    1. Are wealthier economies all less likely to have conflicts? (See USA, the, which in the last five years has participated in conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.)
    2. Are wealthier societies all characterized by the spread of democratic institutions? (See China.)

    Aside from that, I’m not sure what point the author is trying to make. The developing world is expected to grow more rapidly than the developed world. This is true whether we cut greenhouse gas emissions or not. So it doesn’t really have much bearing on whether climate change will make Africa more conflict-prone. And if the models of economic development prove too optimistic, or if war, or climate change, cause development in Africa to stall, that will not stop global warming, most of which, even as Africa grows more wealthy (we hope) in the 21st century, is driven by emissions elsewhere.

  32. ok Robert…of those countries, which ones would you consider “developed”?…you need to engage your brain sometimes even if Eli Rabett thinks you are clever

  33. Everyone’s been so polite, it’s time to get a little abrasive.

    1. They are talking a load of certainty.
    2. Well I am almost certain that they are full of certainty.
    3. With almost certainty I can confirm that they almost certinaly are confirming what they believe, with some certinanty.
    4. What a load of ceartinty they are full of.

    Well I had harsher words, there are other things I’m sure (certainly!) that they’re full of, but it is the festive season so until the new year, here’s hoping that real efforts to reduce conflicts on this planet aren’t being sidelined for this load of… almost certainty.

  34. Re: microbes that remove CO2, are people forgetting the Azolla event?

    The more CO2 you put in the air, the faster it is scrubbed out. Excess CO2 will not remain in the atmosphere very long. The most striking example is the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum when an absolutely tremendous amount of carbon was released into the atmosphere over a short period. It was gone within 200K years and levels were back to normal. In other words, a massive release over a period of about a single one of today’s interglacial periods completely scrubbed out within a period of two of today’s glacial/interglacial cycles.

    As geological CO2 release slows as Earth cools, CO2 levels would be expected to fall. We are actually pretty close to the point where CO2 is near the lower limits of what many species need. Most species alive today evolved when CO2 levels were much higher than they are now. I would expect the oldest of these species to get getting the most benefit from today’s increased CO2 levels. Your Ginko, Norfolk Island Pine and Monkey Puzzle trees should be doing the best they have done in millennia. I would expect to see things like Douglass Fir invading into Oak and Madrone woods. Increased CO2 tends to greatly increase the number of viable seeds produced by conifer species (doubling CO2 increasing seed production by nearly an order of magnitude in one pine species according to a study at Duke University).

    The Azolla event removed so much CO2 from the atmosphere that some suspect it is responsible for today’s glacial Earth. CO2 levels fell from 3500 ppm to 650 ppm in only 800,000 years.

    People seem to have no idea how quickly CO2 can be scrubbed from the atmosphere by natural means. But what bothers me most is why they see increased CO2 as a problem. If anything the removal of all of that CO2 was a more major problem, in my opinion.

    • For me the difference is that increased CO2 is going to happen and is going to affect the next few centuries.

      On the otherhand decreased CO2 (catastrophically) hasn’t happened for the last hundred million years so the chance of it happening precisely in the next few centuries is remote.

    • Crosspatch, I completely agree. One thing I didn’t know until last year is that grasses are a relatively recent adaptation to lower CO2 levels. You know some other less than pleasant things are going to happen in our future (admittedly distant) such as the formation of another supercontinent.

  35. The next Ice Age will serve as conclusive proof of AGW . And the thread-jacking drones will be droning about how it’s the fault of the knuckle-dragging deniers, as they freeze to death. I can see their little frosty lips flapping, slower and slower, until… What a pleasant thought.

    I just wanted to give josh an opportunity to continue his banal droning on a new section of the thread he has already jacked, as the jacking has made it too complicated to follow the jacking, above. Nice work, joshyboy.

    Note to Judith: Once in a while, you need to do something about this foolishness. Hospitality doesn’t need to include allowing emotionally disturbed guests to crap in your living room.

  36. The nest ice age is the year 10K problem. Plan on sticking around??

    • I believe it will be much sooner than 10K years. In fact, I believe the process started about 4kya and in earnest 2kya. We are already much colder than it was during most of the Holocene. It will take only one large volcanic eruption (say a few times larger than Pinatubo) to put us into a situation from which we will not be able to recover.

      We’re pretty close to the edge right now.

    • rodentt,

      I got foresight. Have another drink. It’ll steady yoir hends.

      • Don, them varmints ain’t rodents, they’re Lagamorphs!
        They ceased being classifiec as Rodentia in 1912.
        Now, climate change and conflict. A spreading of sea ice into North Korean waters, pushes their, & chinese fishermen further south, into South Korean waters.

      • Adam,

        This effete Eli Rabette is only masquerading as a Lagamorph. The long ears are glued on. It’s a big ratt.

  37. Judith,

    Their are other fields that have a vast influence in climate.
    Yet climate scientists cannot look past their training on temperature data statistics to understand this.
    What type of gases and the pressure in motion are key players to temperature stability.

    The “what if” scenario is recklessly used.

    • You started out with the idea that climate change had an effect on conflicts. I fully support that idea and can point to a whole series of major events that were triggered by climate change. In a nutshell, civilisations rise during warm periods (that is why historians call them “Climate Optima”) and fall during cold periods.

      I would go further and state that whatever increases the stress on societies will trigger civil unrest, “Regime Change” or even external aggression (remember “Lebensraum”?). To take a recent example, I see a linkage between the “Arab Spring” and the rise of corn prices.

      The US government under the urging of ADM (Andrews, Daniels Midland) and other major agri-businesses mandated the conversion of corn to ethanol for fueling automobiles. Tough luck on the people who just wanted to eat corn.

      • Subsidy just disappeared. Poof

      • That the problem nursing, sooner or later the teat dries up. At least Obama made you proud with the MACT :)

      • The end of the US corn-ethanol subsidy was a step in the right direction, as was the shelving of cap ‘n tax.

      • There’s no free market in energy without a carbon price.

        Without a carbon price, the public is forced to heavily subsidize fossil fuel burning through the forced degradation of their climate.

        That is a violation of human liberty, as well as a distortion of the market.

      • “There’s no free market in energy without a carbon price.”

        You have a very appropriately named blog :)

      • This is to Capt.

        I heard that as long as you keep nursing, milk production continues. Scientific proof that we can all need at the public trough indefinately.

      • This one is to Robert,

        I think you have picked a better descriptive term than what is currently in vogue with “climate degradation”. That, in my opinion, is better at communicating the negative impacts, which climate change doesn’t do as well.

        Please note I am not being sarcastic here. I don’t agree with it being a necessarily accurate term, but you obviously believe it to be and on that basis it is much more descriptive of the issue as you see it.

      • I really hope you are right. This from the Christian Science Monitor:

        “But the failed vote Tuesday showed that 34 Republicans were willing to eliminate the $6 billion tax break – a potential breakthrough in the effort to find common ground on deficit-cutting between Republicans and Democrats. On Thursday, with the previous procedural snag ironed out, 40 Democrats joined 33 Republicans.

        The importance of the vote is likely to be more symbolic that actual. The bill to which the amendment is attached is unlikely to pass. Moreover, the Obama administration has said it would veto any attempt to cut subsidies for ethanol producers entirely.”

      • Robert,
        You would have people pay for the “……the forced degradation of their climate.”

        It seems that you reject the teachings of historians when they say warmer times are more prosperous than cooler times. Historians at least would claim that warming, whether man made or of natural origin, improves prosperity.

        I suspect you would want to tax “forced beneficial climate change” too.

  38. Anybody notice that the analysis code for thois paper is clearly labeled “beta” ???

    I’d hang my hat on beta code…

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