Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Missing News: Debunking civil war-climate links

Roger Pielke Jnr reports on a new paper by Halvard Buhung that thoroughly eviscerates an earlier paper by Burke et al which claimed that climate change resulting from greenhouse gas emissions was dramatically increasing civil wars in Africa, and this trend would continue in the near term. Nothing so far on the ABC.
It appears the only mention was by chronic climate alarmist Psychologist Stephan Lewandowsky who stated in an ABC Unleashed article "A recent peer-reviewed study showed that every extra degree temperature in a given year increases the likelihood of civil conflict in Africa by 50%. Scientists predict an additional human toll of 390,000 battle fatalities in Africa by 2030 because of climate change." We emailed Stephan to tell him the news.

Here's the conclusion from Roger's Post:
Just this week PNAS has published a new paper by Halvard Buhaug that thoroughly eviscerates Burke et al. Buhaug's conclusion is unambiguous (I do not see it at PNAS yet, but an early version is here in PDF):

The simple fact is this: climate characteristics and variability are unrelated to short-term variations in civil war risk in Sub-Saharan Africa. The primary causes of civil war are political, not environmental, and although environmental conditions may change with future warming, general correlates of conflicts and wars are likely to prevail. . . The challenges imposed by future global warming are too daunting to let the debate on social effects and required countermeasures be sidetracked by atypical, nonrobust scientific findings and actors with vested interests.
Burke has reacted strongly against Buhaug, accusing him of having cherry-picked his datasets (Note: Figure 2 in Buhaug is pretty convincing to me.).  While climate change may not be the cause of African civil wars, it does seem to be the cause of civil wars in academia.

Here's BBC's report: Climate shifts 'not to blame' for African civil wars

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