Journal Article

Quantifying The Influence of Climate on Human Conflict

Hsiang, SM, M Burke, E Miguel (2013). Quantifying the Influence of Climate on Human Conflict Science 341(6151).

Published September 12, 2013


A rapidly growing body of research examines whether human conflict can be affected by climatic changes. Drawing from archeology, criminology, economics, geography, history, political science, and psychology, we assemble and analyze the 60 most rigorous quantitative studies and document, for the first time, a remarkable convergence of results. We find 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. The magnitude of climate’s influence is substantial: for each 1 standard deviation (1σ) change in climate toward warmer temperatures or more extreme rainfall, median estimates indicate that the frequency of interpersonal violence rises 4% and the frequency of intergroup conflict rises 14%. Because locations throughout the inhabited world are expected to warm 2-4σ by 2050, amplified rates of human conflict could represent a large and critical impact of anthropogenic climate change.