Scientist details reasons why climate change is a recipe for 'political violence and cruelty'

Scientist details reasons why climate change is a recipe for 'political violence and cruelty'

Climate change deniers often argue that it's wrong to link natural disasters to a changing climate because hurricanes, floods, tornados and droughts were causing misery long before the 20th and 21st Centuries. But the point they miss, according to scientists, is that climate change is making disasters both more common and more intense.

That means more hurricanes and floods in Florida and Louisiana, more droughts and wildfires in California, and more tornados in Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. If frequent disasters don't kill people directly, scientists warn, they can kill them indirectly by threatening crops and food supplies.

According to scientist/author Stan Cox, climate change will also lead to more violence — from crime to political conflicts.

READ MORE: Biden to fund California power grid upgrade in climate change push

In an article published by The Nation on July 7, Cox explains, "Climate disasters are not only failing to goad governments into taking bold action, but may be nudging societies toward increasing violence and cruelty…. Although weather disasters of many kinds can increase public concern about climate change, they can also help to whip up an oppressively violent sociopolitical climate that may prove ever more hostile to the very idea of reducing greenhouse-gas emissions — especially in large, affluent, high-emission societies."

Cox notes that Joel Millward-Hopkins of Leeds University in the U.K. warned, in December 2022, that the effects of climate change may include "widening of socioeconomic inequalities" and an increase in "authoritarian populism." Millward-Hopkins, of course, is not the first person to address the link between climate and violence. In August 2013 — a decade ago — Solomon M. Hsiang , Marshall Burke, and Edward Miguel did some in-depth reporting on that subject for Science Magazine.

"We carried out a comprehensive synthesis of the rapidly growing literature on climate and human conflict," they explained. "We examined many types of human conflict, ranging from interpersonal violence and crime to intergroup violence and political instability and further to institutional breakdown and the collapse of civilizations…. In total, we evaluated 60 primary studies that have examined 45 different conflict data sets. We collected findings across time periods spanning 10,000 BCE to the present and across all major world regions…. Deviations from normal precipitation and mild temperatures systematically increase the risk of conflict, often substantially."

Ten years later, Cox emphasizes that there is a growing appetite for violence on the far right in the United States.

READ MORE: Top Des Moines meteorologist resigns after receiving death threats for climate change coverage

"This outbreak of hostility and violence among right-wingers is occurring even though no one has actually curtailed any of their freedoms," Cox observes. "Now, imagine the ferocity of the backlash if we could somehow manage to enact the policies that are undoubtedly most urgently needed to rein in greenhouse gases and other environmental threats: a rapid phase-out of fossil fuels and cuts in the extraction and use of material resources. The eruption would undoubtedly be far more aggressive and violent than the resistance to COVID-19 regulations."

In an article published by the Guardian on June 15, author George Monbiot predicted that refugees from the effects of climate change will become the targets of far-right violence.

Monbiot wrote, "Already, the manufactured hatred of refugees has helped the far right to gain or share power in Italy, Sweden and Hungary, and has greatly enhanced its prospects in Spain, Austria, France and even Germany…. It is easy to whip up fascism."

Cox points out that political violence, aggravated by climate change, will hardly be limited to the U.S. The journalist warns that the "new climate realities" are "expected to alter military conflicts among nations."

"Forecasts now suggest that if greenhouse-gas emissions aren't reduced deeply and quickly, the climatic zones safe for humans to live in will shrink dramatically," Cox notes. "The worst of it will happen in tropical South America and Africa, the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia, parts of China, and the U.S. Sun Belt. By 2050, two to three billion people are likely to either be living in or fleeing regions that have become increasingly hostile to human existence. And, by 2090, it could be three to six billion of us, or a quarter to a third of humanity."

READ MORE: 'What a weirdo': Twitter shreds 'cartoon character' Republican for declaring 'there is no climate change'

Read Stan Cox's full report for The Nation at this link.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ }}
@2023 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by