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11/22/2007

Climate Change Can Spark War

Image: A Somali woman carries sacks of food aid at Jowhar refugee camp, Somalia, Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2007. Tens of thousands of Somalis who fled the violence in their conflict-wracked capital are facing yet another humanitarian crisis, a debilitating food shortage after poor rains. Credit: AP Photo/Khalil Senosi

History may be bound to repeat itself as Earth’s climate continues to warm, with changing temperatures causing food shortages that lead to wars and population declines, according to a new study that builds on earlier work.

The previous study, by David Zhang of the University of Hong Kong, found that swings in temperature were correlated with times of war in Eastern China between 1000 and 1911. Zhang's newer work, detailed in the Nov. 19 online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, broadens its outlook to climate and war records worldwide and also found a correlation between the two.

"This current study covers a much larger spatial area and the conclusions from the current research could be considered general principles," Zhang said.

The research does not represent direct cause-and-effect, but rather suggests a link between climate and conflict.

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