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The cost of warming—393,000 increased deaths from civil war in Africa by 2030

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

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A new article1 by Marshall Burke and colleagues this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (open access) explores the relationship between climate and conflict.

Their argument is that historically warm years have correlated strongly with increased warfare in Africa.  Based on this relationship and GCM projections of African climate, they forecast a 54% increase in armed conflicts by the year 2030, resulting in 393,000 additional battle deaths.

One might wonder about precipitation changes associated with climate warming—Do they alter this result?  Short answer:  No. The temperature-conflict model was robust regardless of whether or not precipitation was included.

1Burke, M.  et al. (2009) Warming increases the risk of civil war in Africa. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:20670-20674.

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