Climate change may contribute to civil wars
Sudanese demonstrators are seen in May. Sudan is one country whose violence has been linked to El Niño warming.
August 24th, 2011
01:00 PM ET

Climate change may contribute to civil wars

When you think about civil violence in countries worldwide, consider that one factor may be changes in climate.

A new study in the journal Nature finds that the climate event El Niño Southern Oscillation played a role in 21% of civil conflicts from 1950 to 2004. This is seen most prominently in the poorer countries of the tropics, such as Sudan and Rwanda. Wealthier nations affected by El Niño, such as Australia, do not appear to have civil conflict related to climate change.

The study authors are not saying that El Niño Southern Oscillation causes civil conflict, but it seems to be a contributing factor in many cases, especially in the tropics. They find the probability of a new civil conflict breaking out in the tropics doubles during El Niño years, which are associated with warming ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, relative to La Niña years, which are associated with cooling of those temperatures. El Niño occurs about every four to five years, and lasts about one year.

This is analogous to the way that you might find an increase in car accidents on icy roads; the ice itself doesn't cause wrecks, but it's part of a situation that feeds into them, said study co-author Solomon Hsiang, postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University.

"Even in modern society, the global climate is a major factor in determining the global pattern of violence," Hsiang said. "Not only is the effect something that we can observe, it’s a very large and important effect that would explain a lot of the conflict."

What is El Niño, and why might it lead to violence?

El Niño refers to a large movement of water in the Pacific Ocean, Hsiang explains. During a normal year, there’s a certain pattern in which the wind blows a lot of the water on the surface of the tropical ocean to the west.

But sometimes that pattern changes, and the warm water sloshes toward the eastern Pacific, releasing a lot of energy into the atmosphere and heating it. That causes a wave in the atmosphere that's trapped in the tropics around the equator, resulting in warming and drying that's associated with El Niño. During La Niña, the trend is the opposite, with cooler temperatures in the equatorial Pacific.

El Niño can have several effects that might influence civil unrest. For instance, warming patterns can lead to water shortage and large crop losses that negatively impact a country's economy enormously, particularly one in which populations are dependent on subsistence agriculture. This can affect the labor market, making fewer jobs available. Changes in climate can also promote the spread of disease and contribute to famine. In these desperate situations, fighting for resources may seem a viable or necessary option.

Previous research suggests warmer weather may have psychological effects, too. Studies suggest that hot temperatures make people more aggressive, provoking hostile feelings and thoughts. This idea feeds into indications that violent crime is more likely when it's warm outside, too.

More research needs to be done into the actual mechanisms of the role that El Niño plays in violent conflict, but the premise is solid, said Thomas Homer-Dixon, political scientist at the Balsillie School of International Affairs in Waterloo, Canada.

"I’ve looked at the methods pretty closely; this is as close to an air-tight argument as it gets," says Homer-Dixon, who was not involved with the Nature study, but has also done research on these issues. "Now there’s a lot more than needs to be done. This is only the beginning."

So what about global warming?

The new study does not prove that warming from human-induced climate change will cause violence, and study authors caution that El Niño patterns are distinct from global warming.

But the implication is certainly there that if this influence of climate change on violence can be observed from El Niño, human-induced global warming patterns may potentially also contribute to violence. In fact, we may seeing that in the case of the Arab Spring, Homer-Dixon said. The Middle East does not experience climate variations related to El Niño, but a recent unexpected warming (which he suggests could be related to human-induced climate change) in a different world region may have contributed to unrest.

The situation can be viewed this way, Homer-Dixon said: Unusual high temperatures Russia in the summer of 2010 (potentially from global warming) caused droughts and hampered food production, which drove up food prices. The resulting economic turmoil is one factor driving the recent instability in the Middle East.

"The kind of climate phenomenon these authors have been looking at in the past is not dissimilar to the kind of climate shock that appears to have contributed to the Middle East uprising," he said.

What can be done

Armed with the knowledge that El Niño is associated with greater violent conflict in the tropics, people in affected areas may be able to take certain preventative measures before outbreaks occur, Hsiang said.

Humanitarian groups could increase their fundraising efforts in preparation for an El Niño event, and prepare resources more effectively to reach people before a crisis occurs. Spreading the word across a population can also help. For instance, a farmer who knows there's a greater chance of drought might save up more water to keep crops from dying.

According to the latest data from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center, our planet's northern hemisphere is currently in an "ENSO-neutral" state, which will remain through fall 2011 and probably heading toward La Niña next. So, we will not have an El Niño event this year.

In the meantime, nations can take steps to mitigate the threat of human-induced climate change, Homer-Dixon said. It's true that violence tied to warmer climate shifts seems to impact chiefly poor societies that depend on the food they grow themselves, but there are spillover effects to civil violence that threaten national and global security. There may even be violent outbreaks in the United States as dire droughts set in.

"To think that we can wall ourselves off from this stuff is real folly," Homer-Dixon said.

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Filed under: News • On Earth
soundoff (211 Responses)
  1. ray

    they have got to get the first help Cause its so personal water to them they need interpertation not orders or trouble ABOUT them bein a little slowsville cause in dallas outside work doesnt let you know ahead of time that you R going to PASS-OUT on your feet more than once &no one is ever ever readt to drop everything to bop again!

    September 15, 2011 at 3:26 pm |
  2. Priestess Auset Ra Amen

    Not the pale arabs trying to kill off the indeginous nubians of this land, but climate change? stop with the false propaganda and tell the truth for once!!!

    August 27, 2011 at 9:39 am |
  3. gary

    climate change will bring wars for water

    August 25, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      That and the over population of the planet... how many more days until we hit 7 Billion? how many years until we hit 10?

      August 26, 2011 at 12:23 am |
  4. clearfog

    Even if (big IF), there are other concurrent natural causes of the greenhouse effect, it is well understood that man made greenhouse gasses add to the problem. Even if (bigger IF) natural causes were the sole causal factor, we should try to do something about it. Can't control climate? Why not. We've been seeding clouds for decades (with limited success). One of the things to try is to reduce manmade emissions, no matter how minor the contribution.

    August 25, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  5. VZA

    The humor is lost when you realize that somebody is actually paying these clowns a lot of money for these so called study's and that somebody, more often than not, is you and me.

    August 25, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
    • clearfog

      Clowns are creepy. People who call scientists clowns are creepier.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
    • VZA

      This is silly science and people who believe it are fools

      August 25, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
      • fimeilleur

        NOOoooooo, not PSALMS 14!!!!! (Thump)

        August 26, 2011 at 12:21 am |
  6. Pretzel Logic

    Oh Lord, here we go again!

    If they can't figure out a way to blame something on George Bush or the Tea Party they fall back on soccer mom's driving SUV's! This article should be filed under "Humor" not Science.

    August 25, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • jim

      Yeah because causes and effects don't relate to one another, right?

      August 25, 2011 at 2:46 pm |
    • standingwave

      There is the "all of the above" option.

      August 25, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  7. yo momma

    and further more i just read the paragraph you referenced and it says the probabilty is said to be double during el nino years, where as apparently the 21% is the actual percentage, which means that they are just throwing darts on the probablility. this article has no solid evidence to back up the claims and if it does then it is not clearly stated. i mean i can say that the probablity of me taking a dump this afternoon is 90% cuz i havent gone yet today, but in reality the percent of my dumps that occur in the afternoon is around 20%. statistics and probability can be twisted around to make people believe what they want them to.

    August 25, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • yo momma

      that last comment was @jytlm

      August 25, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • jim

      No - you just don't understand. Listen:

      "A new study in the journal Nature finds that the climate event El Niño Southern Oscillation played a role in 21% of civil conflicts from 1950 to 2004." <- this is the percentage of total events in all years.

      "They find the probability of a new civil conflict breaking out in the tropics doubles during El Niño years, which are associated with warming ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, relative to La Niña years, which are associated with cooling of those temperatures. El Niño occurs about every four to five years, and lasts about one year." <- this is the probability during ONLY El Nino Years.

      August 25, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
      • jytlm

        Thanks jim for explaining it. It's true the article could be clearer about what it's actually trying to say. There is a problem with journalism distorting science, due to both difficulty of lay people to understand science papers, and the difficulty or presenting scientific findings to the public. What CNN really should do is to start linking to the actual journal articles so people can actually figure things out for themselves and read it in the scientists' actual words.

        August 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • jps

      omg no! If it says El Nino played a role in 21% of conflicts it means just that, El Nino played a role in 21% of conflicts. Nowhere does it say that 21% happened in an El Nino year. Such ignorance.

      August 25, 2011 at 3:52 pm |
  8. CHAD J

    This is all common knowledge to most the World. The only group in denial is ther right wing of the US.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  9. yo momma

    so let me get this straight CNN.. el Nino happens once every 5 years and 21% or roughly (1/5) of civil conflicts happened during el nino.. i mean im no statistics professor or anything but that has to mean that the other four years must be 20% as well, because otherwise if they were less than 20% either one year not related to el nino is higher or it doesnt add up to 100% at all. so what your saying is that it in fact has no effect at all. i LOLed when i read this garbage..

    August 25, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      Your argument assumes that El Nino has a role in EVERY conflict during which it is active. That clearly isn't the case and that leads to the second point that conflicts in the tropics are twice as likely to occur during el nino.

      August 25, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  10. Jami

    so....21% of conflicts break out in El Nino years and El Nino occurs for about a year every 4-5 years (20-25% of the time)...seems like for there to be this claimed correlation the number would have to be greater than 25%. anyone else see this?

    August 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • yo momma

      ha, i just read your comment after i finished posting mine, looks like we both noticed it at the same time :)

      August 25, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
      • jytlm

        If either of you had read further, it mentions that the amount of conflicts in the tropics doubles during El Nino years, as opposed to non-El Nino years. So it goes further than the conclusion you two are inferring.

        August 25, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
      • yo momma

        that may be but with the blatant tossing around of statistics there without any justification could easily confuse those of us who see a statistic and can instantly see, wait a minute that aint right!!

        August 25, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
      • clearfog

        Great minds think alike. Apparantly that adage is also true of minds that are no so great.

        August 25, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  11. Sarah Davis

    Some of you are more interested in the politics of this. Ask police in the cities, when it gets very hot, crime goes up. Everyone gets crankier. Common sense!
    The world climate is changing; whether man made or natural I don't know. If you are over 50, you can remember different weather patterns. Also we have been having more earthquakes in the last 10 yrs it seems and the Pacific Ring of Fire volcanoes are very active.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  12. nugy

    and i thought global warming was the cause of this not the eath and sun

    August 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  13. Big JIm Slade

    Climates have always changed. That's why there are weathermen and ladies.

    I'm guessing human greed has far more to do with civil wars.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  14. mbane

    Oh – climate change. So it's not us selling them weapons and preventing them from developing because of our own interests. Good to know. Great reporting CNN. Keep it up. This is journalism at it's best.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
  15. Clem Arbruster Bodog Castlenut, Jr.

    "Hey Giuseppe! Did you here about this left-wing nut Columbus? He says the world is spherical!"
    "I know, Angelo. I wonder how many tax ducats he wasted doing that study! I think someone is going to be sailing off the edge of the world!"

    August 25, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  16. Andrew

    I cannot believe CNN even distributes such nonsense.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  17. OldrightRep

    Yes, global warming hype will cause war. The more "the sky is falling" crowd pushes the globalist climate agenda, there will be blowback.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      Yes, global warming will cause war. Water evaporates faster at higher temperatures and warm air holds more moisture than cold air. If you do not water plants, they die. If there are fewer plants, there will be less cattle and that leaves a lot of hungry and angry people.

      August 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
      • clearfog

        Trying to use logic to argue with a zealot? I appreciate the sentiment, but I fear that you are a voice in the wilderness.

        August 25, 2011 at 3:31 pm |
    • clearfog

      Well, actually, the sky IS falling. Or nearly 100% of the scientific community are failing. BTW, let me guess, evolution is another myth, right?

      August 25, 2011 at 3:34 pm |
  18. Robert

    I farted. Darn you climate change!

    August 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  19. Ghost

    Is there anything NOT linked to global warming? Smoking tobacco is, but not marijuana.. thats fine. Science is pushing an agenda thats why people won't listen anymore.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Max in NY

      You think science has an agenda? God you're an idiot

      August 25, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
      • clearfog

        Ghost's problem is not in the listening, but in the understanding. Good enough ears, not good enough neural complexes.

        August 25, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Scott

      Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. In science, you don't get to say "I don't like this conclusion- therefore your research is wrong!"
      Have your doubts? Prove it. Find the errors.
      If you've never read a single scientific paper in your life, I'm not sure why you feel qualified to pass judgement.
      You've spent 30 seconds or so thinking about someone's life work, so by all means, set them straight, oh wise one!

      August 25, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Ghost

      I can find scientist who are willing to find and prove whatever I pay them to. Global warming causes... lung cancer causes, they are all politically motivated due to the research that can be found going 3 different directions. Thats when you cant believe it. I can find just as much scientific evidence to prove Global warming is not man made as I can that it is... Agenda, therefore I don't believe either. Lung Cancer especially in people who never smoked a day in their life? Radon is just as much a cause but the agenda pushed by science is to outlaw tobacco because those big businesses back a political party. Its an agenda therefore I believe NONE of it. I can believe in the simple science like Osmosis or why leaves are green, and what makes corn grow better... but global warming and cancer? Agenda.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
      • Stephanie Doyle

        @ Ghost..Seriously? Send me a link to four peer reviewed articles that say that climate change is a hoax, and I will start believing in ghosts! Get real, take a look around you and pay attention to weather trends, rising temperatures, and severe droughts. Pick up a book that offers REAL scientific data from respected sources and pack up your conspiracy rantings in exchange for helpful information. Also, yes..Radon is a big contributor to lung cancer..but, you don't go to the store to buy it.

        August 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
      • clearfog

        Good point. Perhaps you should stick with the "simple" scientific concepts and leave the others to others.

        August 25, 2011 at 3:47 pm |
  20. RobertH

    So, all we have to do is tax people more for energy use and send the money to Al Gore so he can stamp out global warming. Then we will see the end to civil wars, greed and crime I bet around the world. All righty then. Let me know how that works out for you.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  21. GregHaus

    I'm pretty sure global warming caused my hemaroids.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      No, but it may have caused your kidney stones...

      August 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  22. jytlm

    Reading most of these comments, it seems like most people just read the headline and didn't even read the article. The study is not about global warming.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Trebec

      It's about how the climate, (better word might be 'weather') effects people. Well duh.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  23. Trebec

    Yeah, and most crime happens at nite in the warmer months of the year. This is a bogus study, this doesn't prove anything.

    August 25, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • Scott

      Thank you for your expert analysis.
      May I ask which portion of the methods you found an error in?

      Oh, you haven't read the study?

      August 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
  24. Victor Lau

    Hopefully, this so-called study was not funded by the government. If you have nothing better to do, go find a real daytime job.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  25. Robert

    Yeah, 2 or 3 months max.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  26. Marilyn

    "Climate Change" BOTH in the atmospheric & economical/leadersip sense attribute to the civil wars. For those of you which are BLINDED to the FACTS of Global Warming, try doing some actual research on your own rather than strictly taking someone's word as "Truth". Also, to non-thinking individuals, the civil wars are not going to stay strictly in other countries; soon we will see the same in our own as the rich keep getting richer whilst continual suppressing the middle & lower incomed peoples. Rude Awakenings are only just beginning here in the US. Monies taken from our educational systems have definitely dumbed down the majority of society. Yes, the GOP elitists have succeeded in their goals. Unfortunately, we are now facing not only Islamic Terrorism on Our Soil but Civil Wars due to GreedOverPeople. Mark My Words!

    August 25, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Mike

      OK Marilyn your words are marked. Now, next topic?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
      • Salop88

        Who's Mark, anyway?

        August 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Stephanie Doyle

      Hear, hear!! I agree with you, now if only people would listen.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
  27. driranek

    Illegal immigration now is absolutely nothing compared to what it'll be after the first major crop failure south of the border. That could easily set off a shooting war along our border as places to the south descend into famine and anarchy.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
  28. USA

    The language in Sudan is primarily Sudanese Arabic, but the sign they are holding is in perfect English....strange.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • jytlm

      the sign mentions a student union. maybe they learned english?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  29. Robert

    My own personal study finds a correlation between full moons and civil wars. It seems like in poorer countries every 100th or so full moon there is a civil war. (BTW in case people missed it, this was not meant to be a factual statement).

    August 25, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  30. nick

    ok CNN, your articles are just getting ridiculous now. so how exactly does climate change influence civil wars? IT DOESN'T. your flawed study did nothing to prove anything.

    guess you can't have Fareed writing an anti-American rant on why we should adopt a dictatorship everyday?

    you guys are a joke.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Guest

      Nick, you're the joke here. The article describes the results of the recent research, nothing more or less. It's not even focusing on global climate change. There is no politics to argue. Go pander to the right on Foxnews.com and stop wasting everyone's time with your worthless garbage that constantly flows out of your mouth/keyboard. And, more importantly, go find a job and contribute to something.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • driranek

      @nick – Hungry people will fight for food. Climate change will cause crop failures which cause famine. Get it?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Michael

      Dude, you need to take a lesson from your Princess Palin and Man Up. Climate Change causes a change in rainfall paterns where some areas flood constantly and others, primarily food producing areas, suffer long droughts; food cost and availablity are adversely affected, people relocate to follow the food and current land occupants tend to get a little snippy about that. While we have (and some would say are) fighting over oil (a huge contributor to the Climate Change, by hte way) the next Big War will be over water. So, nick, try a little harder to eschew rhetorical obfuscations, go bone up on your science and turn Fox News off for the rest of the year ...

      August 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • Noah

      Your question: "so how exactly does climate change influence civil wars?"

      The author's answer to this could have been found if you had simply read the article. It was nice of the other commenters to try to explain it to you again, though. Is it that hard to believe that people are more prone to conflict when it's hot and hard to find food?

      August 25, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  31. upside22

    "The study authors are not saying that El Niño Southern Oscillation causes civil conflict, but it seems to be a contributing factor in many cases,"

    Huh? If something is a *contributing* factor then it is also a *causal* factor. This whole article is a bunch of whooey! Correlation is not causation and even the correlation factor of this study is so low as to be non existent. The sun rises every day so is the sun correlated to the civil wars as well?

    August 25, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      The sun is the source of life's energy, so yes, the sun very indirectly causes/contributes to human conflicts. That said, I'm guessing the authors' distinction between "causal" and "contributing" factors has to do with the degree of separation. In the case of a civil war, the causal factor could be food shortages and overpopulation with el nino serving as a contributing factor by creating those food shortages.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
  32. Mark

    I sneezed especially hard earlier this year and later that day the Japan tsunami occurred. I'm sure that was a contributing factor. Sorry about that.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  33. FedUp

    Is this article for real? Is it 4/1 or something? WTF? Couldn't be those backwards morons in those countries fault could it?

    August 25, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Michael

      Lighten Up, Pilgrim. People in that neck of the woods are poor, not stupid. Granted there have been misguided agriculteral policies over the years but the environment is the primary contributor to crop success. No water, little or no food, starving people (except for the militia cronies, of course) drought, disease and so on. For the record, all of mankind is responsible and at fault here because the CO2 levels are the highest they've been in over 400,000 years. While CO2 levels have varied over that time, the variance has always been between 180 and 280 parts per million (ppm) whereas, in just the past 60 years, the levels have exceeded 350 ppm and there's no sign of them slowing. CO2 is transparent to visible and ultraviolet light but opaque to the infrared. Sunglight warms the earth and oceans, converting the radiation to the infrared ... which now gets bounced back into the atmosphere. Any of you that can't understand that basic law of thermodynamics, go back to school ... and leave Fox News off for the rest of the year.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  34. clearfog

    There is no climate change. It is a myth. Therefore, there are no civil wars. They are myths. Simple.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • DC

      Your comment is stupid.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Amused

      clearfog – I disagree! The climate is indeed changing! The climate is always in some state of change; either warming or cooling, getting wetter or drier, there is always some change. The myth is that these changes are caused by industrial pollution! When you realize that this warming trend started over two thousand years ago, it becomes quite clear that industrialization cannot be the cause!

      August 25, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
      • LMM

        I agree Amused! Somehow natural climate fluctuations have become a reason for some politicians to shut down more of our industry and jobs. Why, I still haven't got a clue.

        August 25, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
      • Michael

        Trends over the past 400,000 years have been mapped. Indeed, there have been CO2 and temperture variations over that time frame, but the CO2 levels varied between 180 ppm when the earth was cold and 280 ppm when the earth was warm. Just in the past 60 years, the CO2 levels have risen past 350 ppm (highest ever in over 400,000 years remember) and the temperture is just now beginning to catch up. Go try and find the Ross Ice Shelf. That was 12,000 year old ice and it's GONE. Go look at the Northwest Passage ... that seaway has NEVER been open before, but it is now. Sea levels have risen over 1.5 inches the past 15 years. Oh and one more thing: Carbon-12 comes from plants, Carbon-13 from volcanoes and Carbon-14 is a radioactive decay. Guess what form the vast majority of CO2 is? It is Carbon-12 so it is ALL a direct result of burning fossil fuels. I hate to tell you deniers this, but the science is there and people that understand the science are speaking up against the fear-mongering and close-minded nay-sayers. The Truth is the Light ... Now, shut off Fox News for the rest of the year and go study ... there will be a test ...

        August 25, 2011 at 1:23 pm |
    • clearfog

      Civil wars are not myths. It is stupid not to recognize sarcasm. Why does the guy who thinks that climate change is not caused by industrialization recognize it and disagree with me, but you don't. Climate change is caused, in part, by industrialization. It is causation, not correlation. We understand the mechanism quite well. Among other things, CO2 reflects infrared. Simple.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
      • Amused

        clearfog – The greenhouse gas effect that you are referring to is indeed a scientific fact. The problem is that man-made greenhouse gases comprise such an extremely small amount of the global balance of CO2, Methane and other greenhouse gases. Natural sources of gases such as vocanic activity and methane gas constantly being released from frozen methane under ocean floors is MUCH, MUCH greater than the entire global output from human industrialization. Remember, over two thirds of the Earth's surface is covered by oceans waters constantly releasing natural gases. We also know that Solar energy is an important factor and catalyst for changing the rate of these processes. We currently have only a very short history of accurate solar data which makes that part of the puzzle very difficult to analyze. I am now and have always been an environmentalist. I still support and encourage all efforts to clean up our water and air resources for our own health and well being. Pretending that we can "fix" the global climate is both foolish and silly.

        August 25, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  35. MobiusEight

    What is this I don't even

    August 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  36. Salop88

    More bored, over-educated 'idiots' with nothing to do but dwell on their imagination. It's like, let's see who can come up with the most outrageous off-the-wall topic, then let's study the hell out of it as if it mattered. Why don't you ponder something worthwhile like curing disease, alternative fuels or Big Mac's with no fat or cholesterol.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
  37. Martoon

    By the way, El Nino is not the "global climate change" that Gore and company are trumpeting. Instead it is a natural cycle that occurs every several years for millenia... So warmer temperatures affect only poor people? Ludicrous.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      From wikipedia, "The studies of historical data show that the recent El Niño variation is most likely linked to global warming. For example, one of the most recent results is that even after subtracting the positive influence of decadal variation, shown to be possibly present in the ENSO trend,[53] the amplitude of the ENSO variability in the observed data still increases, by as much as 60% in the last 50 years.[54]" The links are to journal articles published in well-respected journals. This would at the very least indirectly link climate change to civil conflicts.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
  38. Julnor

    'The new study does not prove that warming from human-induced climate change will cause violence, and study authors caution that El Niño patterns are distinct from global warming."

    But don't let that keep you from writing an over hyped ridiculous extrapolation.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
  39. mejazzbo

    Sounds like you have an agenda to push rather than the realities of the situation.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  40. Marcus

    Correlation is not the same as causation.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
  41. scieng1

    Interesting speculation, but faulty science. Climate change has been happening for over 10,000 years. The Sahara Desert used to be prolific forest and grassland, but started changing thousands of years ago. 2000+ years ago, the Irish sea was much warmer than now. Man-made climate change has never been supported by science, and is completely a religion that ignors science and history.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      Unlike religion, climate change is supported by empirical data. There is overwhelming support for anthropomorphic causes as a driving factor in climate change, so much so that ~97% of those most qualified on the issue of climate change believe in significant anthropomorphic causes. But by all means, listen to oil companies and their republican cronies who are making record profits and have created the so called "global warming conspiracy".

      August 25, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
      • DC

        So climate change is happening ergo its anthropomorphic? And because ~97% (where exactly did you pull out that number) believe it, it must be real? Gosh! those are really 'scientific' arguments. You know, nearly 100% of catholic church once believed that the sun revolved around the earth. Did that make their belief true?
        And do try to answer the point about Sahara converting to a desert long before our industries started belching out CO2.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
      • Matt in PA

        DC, on your second point, there are natural driving forces that contribute to climate change (solar cycles, ice age, etc.) and there are artificial driving forces (burning oil, etc.). The desertification of the Sahara was caused by natural forces. Current climate change cannot not be accounted for based solely on natural driving forces and there must be some artificial component. The 97% figure can from a Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences analysis of published works in climate-related journals, encompassing over a thousand scientists. These are some of the best minds working on this issue and their findings should have much more bearing than the Catholic Church's opinion on the sun.

        August 25, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
      • Amused

        Matt – DC is correct! Ice cores from Anarctica clearly show the current warming trend we are experiencing began well over two thousand years ago! This fact is also supported by stalagtite and stalagmite cross-sections taken from blue-hole caves in the Bahamas. These mineral deposit formations show the pattern of rise and fall of ocean levels during the last 450,00 years. These facts are further supported by the geologic records found in sedimentary rocks found in the Sahara dessert which clearly show a cyclical pattern of hot/dry periods alternating with cooler/wet periods in a regular pattern over the last half million years... These are FACTS supported by PHYSICAL GEOLOGIC EVIDENCE and are NOT SPECULATIONS!

        August 25, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
      • Matt in PA

        To reiterate my previous post, there are natural and artificial factors that can influence climate change. I know that there are natural cycles but current climate change does not follow these cycles. There is a significant impact from human activities - this fact is not debated or questioned by scientists. The debate arises in the scope of and response to the climate change crisis. Check out the IPCC 2007 summary for policy makers on google written by the best and the brightest instead of listening to Fox News.

        August 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • Salop88

      I've noticed that it's definitely been getting warmer since about February. This climate change stuff is really happening fast. Be warned. But I bet if we make a concerted effort to, say stop using our exhaust-spewing lawn mowers, things might begin to cool off some in another month or two. We can make a difference!

      August 25, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
      • Matt in PA

        That is an ignorant argument. Look up "weather" in the dictionary and look up "climate".

        August 25, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
      • Salop88

        Matty – are so 'intellectual' that you do not recognize sarcasm when you see it? Maybe you should quit admiring your diplomas and look that big word up.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
      • Matt in PA

        Salop – Sarcasm doesn't translate well into text and I've heard many people make that argument and be serious. Sorry if I didn't get it. I tend to be serious about issues I think are important.

        August 25, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Betsy

      I guess the American Civil War was not about slavery and states rights afterall!
      Who knew it was really "global warming"? Quick, we should rewrite all our text books to correctly reflect the real reasons!
      Obviously the pesky German Army had no role in the Czar's overthrow either. The list goes on.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Michael

      Your science is faulty as are the numbers. Trends over the past 400,000 years have been mapped and while there have been CO2 and temperture variations over that time frame, the CO2 levels varied between 180 ppm when the earth was cold and 280 ppm when the earth was warm. Just in the past 60 years, the CO2 levels have risen past 350 ppm and the temperture is just now beginning to catch up. Go try and find the Ross Ice Shelf. That was 12,000 year old ice and it's GONE. Go look at the Northwest Passage ... that seaway has NEVER been open before, but it is now. Sea levels have risen over 1.5 inches the past 15 years. Carbon-12 comes from plants, Carbon-13 from volcanoes and Carbon-14 is a radioactive decay product. The vast majority (> 95%) of CO2 is Carbon-12 so it is a direct result of burning fossil fuels. The science is there and people that understand that are speaking out against the fear-mongering and close-minded nay-sayers. Now, shut off Fox News for the rest of the year and go study ... there will be a test ...

      August 25, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
  42. Erik

    Really? REALLY? So approximately 21% of civil wars occur in el nino years which occur approximately every 4-5 years? So your saying that there is an airtight argument that the el nino event which occurs between 20% and 25% of years is a factor in the civil wars which occur in those same years? Do the simple math people – in a given 5 year span there will likely be one el nino year (20% occurence) and 4 non el nino years (80% occurence). During the same time frame – 21% of the civil wars will occur in the el nino year and 79% will occur in the other years.

    If anything this study proves that there is no correlation and that people are just as likely to go to war in a non el nino year as they are during one. Superficially it seems to make sense that when times are worst (famine, weather, drought, etc...) tempers would be more frayed and war more likely, but apparently those are just excuses used for behavior that occurs regardless of the conditions.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Matt in PA

      Because a conflict happens in an El Nino year doesn't mean the El Nino "played a role" in the conflict. I'd have to look at the actual study, which I don't have time to do, but you analysis seems to be a misinterpretation of the article.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  43. kaitlinsnana

    Maybe a typo? Someone googled "deserts" erred and typed "desserts".

    Heck yea, desserts have doubled in size.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  44. Mark

    Whew....one more thing that kept me up at night now has an answer.....

    August 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Conan the Librarian

      me too! how can CNN put out this type of stuff?
      the comments are hilarious – especially when you realize that some of the folks out there are serious
      there is a mentall wasteland out there

      August 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  45. ralk

    Just more ofthe lib BS on this over grown good for nothing issue...it is always hot in Africa so get a grip you morons. You have no idea as to why these happen...just stupid ideas so you can think of yourself as being important in your own pea sized brain of yours.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
    • DB

      I think that the scientists in question have a bit more intelligence and knowledge than you do. Supported by your immediate referencing of politics to an article that has nothing to do with politics.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  46. vel

    of course climate change fuels civil wars. Each side wants all of the resources for their "tribe". We'll see constant war for water and other resources as long as climates are changing rapidly.

    August 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  47. noname124

    What a bunch of horse shit this article is... climate change means nothing. All these events are due to fucked up governments, and greedy corperations that make it next to impossible for the lower class people to get anywhere in life

    August 25, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • Vanilla Gorilla

      this article could have been written by an junior high student looking to light a liberal teacher
      what a piece of crap – nothing of any substance
      maybe UFO's are impacting civil wars too? why not blame them on Bush?
      dig deep CNN and maybe you can find some reporters that will actually cover something of merit and not based on conjecture – come to think of it head to the nearest junior high and you will find them !!

      August 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  48. Katherine

    and many many years from now, we will finally acknolwedge the connection between out thoughts and our world.
    I hope we advance quickly to this for all this fear coming from the minds of a large percentage of people worldwide is drawing negative things (for those that think it I mean). The rest of us that trust our source will thrive.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  49. phil

    lol, has nothing to do with climate change. The world has been coming out of an ice age for a million years, and regardless of what we do, its going to get warmer.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:57 am |
  50. Wendy

    Did they reall get paid to conduct this study?

    August 25, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Chris

      Yeah it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that a changing climate means droughts ect ect.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  51. OnTheRoad

    And the cause for 9/11 was that either fewer or more couples had sex on the night of 9/10 than on an average night! It always amazes me how people can come up with this type of story and sell it as if they can prove any part of what they are saying!

    August 25, 2011 at 11:54 am |
  52. Texas Pete

    Why aren't you out oppressing women? Aren't you a true believer?

    August 25, 2011 at 11:48 am |
  53. Texas Pete

    Allah couldn't run a Falafel stand.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  54. Dan

    I KNEW hotter temperatures caused people to kill each other. That's why things are so bad in the middle east. You never see Inuits waging war.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • Texas Pete

      Are you kidding? Those whales they kill are actually midget submarines sent by the penguins on Antarctica to spy on the Inuit.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  55. bs1

    Climate change plays only a supplemental role in these civil wars. The root cause is decades of well intentioned but poorly though out food and medical aid provided by the west, combined with the west allowing religious terrorists to be exported to the developing world where they preach against responsible population control. If the populations in these developing countries had not been artificially inflated by this meddling from the "west", it would take a good deal more climate change before the resource conflicts currently seen would occur.

    August 25, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • kaitlinsnana

      My head is going to explode....

      August 25, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Snark

      That is a ridiculous mix of half-truths, at best. Even if some aid has been counterproductive, to call it the root cause would be to suggest that such conflict didn't exist before aid. Also, there is plenty of local resistance to contraception; if you find the spread of Christianity to be the primary cause, you aren't really talking about recent times.

      The most destructive western meddling is not well-intentioned aid, but instead old-school economic exploitation. Opening the barriers to economies where people live on $100/day so that such people have to directly compete with countries whose people live on $20,000 is a sure-fire way to get price-based food shortages. And yet, since your population argument is partially correct, it is also important to find a way to grow more efficiently in all places. This requires a well conceived mix of economic openness and closure, and countries caught in the hype of deregulation at all costs (such as the USA) are not ready for a serious dialogue about such issues. Yet, even if we discontinue aid, we will most certainly continue prying open markets so that the 1st world wealthy can accumulate the resources of the economically less powerful. The entire situation bodes poorly for global stability in the medium term, and the fact that global warming might lead to changes of a far greater magnitude than El Nino is unhelpful.

      These are serious times.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:51 am |
      • notbobslc

        Talk about half truths and supposition, Snark – you are as bad the poster your replying to. Having spent years in Africa I can tell you it isnt the white devil from the western world taking advantage of the poor in Africa. It is the banksters and power brokers in these countries who are in bed with the UN, IMF and other international schemes to accomplish the financial ownership of these societies. It is almost every leader of an African nation that is most responsible for the exploitation of their people. Yes the bankers sit back and take interest off the developing world, as evil as that is the true on the ground evil is committed between africans – just like any other place on the planet.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Texas Pete

      Right, because before we were sending food and medical aid, they had a completely peaceful society who never fought any wars or even made faces at each other. Oh wait, we are on earth, not in Oz.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:52 am |
      • bs1

        Nope, they were not peaceful, however they were also not overpopulated which is the root of the bulk of the resource conflicts and the link to climate change and the reduction of those resources.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  56. Brian DC

    What are the Lakers doing in Sudan?

    August 25, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  57. volksmaniac

    This is so obviously Bush's fault .

    August 25, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Brian DC

      lol. I see CNN is still bringing up the global warming scam. I do admit, liberals are persistently annoying, kind of like the mosquito.

      August 25, 2011 at 11:12 am |
      • Snark

        If you call global warming a "scam" (because of 'climategate'), you are obviously limiting yourself to reading media that is mostly selected to confirm your perspective.

        If the climategate accusations were 100% true, it would AT WORST taint the work of one of the five major projects researching climate change. Plus, there is good reason to consider the accusations untrue: http://blogs.forbes.com/alexknapp/?p=2807

        Of course, those who profit from keeping the US dependent on fossil fuels are not interested in hyping these statements. If you want to think for yourself (questionable given your comment, yet still possible), you will probably need to do some research of your own.

        August 25, 2011 at 11:55 am |
      • Brad

        You need to learn how to read Brian, no where in this article does it mention global warming, it is talking about la nina and el nino effecting weather patterns. I would go on, but you are to stupid to bother with.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • Scott

      Agreed!! This is ridiculous. The headline totally implies that Global Warming causes civil wars. The correct headline would have been "El Nino contributes...".

      If this doesn't prove media's agenda and cast doubt on the religion of GW hoax, nothing will....unless you count the scientists lying, disproving of the 'Hockey stick' model, or the inconvenient debunking of 80% of Al Gore's 'facts' in An Inconvenient Truth

      August 25, 2011 at 11:59 am |
      • Jair

        ummm, 'climate change' is the right wing acknowledgement that the climate IS changing, without agreeing with Global Warming (natural course of events vs. man-made). El Nino is a miniature temporary version of climate change. Whether you agree with the article's conclusion is up to you, but the title is not really misleading...

        August 25, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  58. Bob in Pa

    Homer-Dixon hasn't a clue. Why do these types of people think that the world cannot exist on its own without their medling. It's almost a narcissists approach to life, where they are trying to justify their existence and make themselves more important. When will they learn that just like you cannot control human nature, mother nature will not be denied.

    August 25, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • Snark

      Homer-Dixon's argument is that we ARE meddling already, and that should be accounted for.

      Of course, we could just go with your "bad stuff happens" philosophy, under which we would abandon sanitation and return mortality rates to the levels of a couple of years ago.

      On second though, I think let's hold an election and see if the "do nothing while the world burns" party can beat the other ones.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
  59. Will

    this whole article is common sense.
    "when you are uncomfortable, you are easier to piss off. "
    they do that study in Ghostbusters 2, don't they?

    August 25, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Bob in Pa

      Unfortunately, sometimes intellectuals have a hard time grasping the obvious. It was probably funded by some government grants.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:38 am |
      • Snark

        Sometimes 'intellectuals' find it useful to test their hypotheses against data sets instead of treating common sense as immutable fact. Others are happy to know what they know, and will attack anyone who suggests their knowledge is incomplete. One of those people lives in PA, but really they are all over.

        Of course, to call this kind of sense common would require overlooking several comments on this very board.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  60. Cori

    Sounds like that everyone agrees that this article is poor journalism: misleading headlines, tentative scientific hypotheses about the meaning of this study's limited findings framed as proving larger complex physical phenomenon, basic observable facts of history and life framed as revelations supporting politicized movements? Classic overstatement of scientific findings by the press. Is it a slow news day?

    August 25, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • omegarising

      You pretty much summed up everything I was going to say, so the only I have left to say is...What an absolute load of crap this article is! Nice job on the pseudo science CNN! What's your next load of propaganda BS gonna be CNN? How the "climate change" is affecting the menstrual cycle of women?

      August 25, 2011 at 10:19 am |
      • Snark

        Any science that might support a conclusion that you don't prefer is pseudoscience?

        The Dark Ages called....they want their consciousness back.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
      • omegarising

        Snark, Soooo your saying that you believe this drivel? I suppose you still believe in the tooth fairy as well.

        August 25, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
  61. Gregson

    Conversely, Human-induced Global Cooling during the Maunder Minimum (1550-1825) is no doubt responsible for the French Revolution,the Crimean War and all of the British/French/Spanish conflicts of the period, based on the vast amounts of wood and coal used during the winter months to keep Human Civilization warm prior to the Industrial Revolution.
    Oh!... those dastardly Homo Sapiens – the world was such a lovely place until they emerged as the dominant species on the planet! – Yes!... Natural Law was such a compassionate and benevolent master... the world was a veritable Garden of Eden! – Nothing close to the: "... rather brutish place!" as Hobbs puts forth.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:26 am |
    • stannard

      Dog runs, kids chases dog ,dog falls off cliff ,its the kids fault. Oh were is that easy... decrease in sun spots is likely cause of mini ice age. We should do nothing ? Mankind , has always been , our own worse enemy.
      Cause and effect are obvious what we can or will do is the question.
      Does it make the world a more stable to claim there is nothing mankind can do.
      This is a story of clean water for drinking and there is plenty we can and should do. One drop at a time if for no other reason than it is the best course of economic salvation and for the next generation.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  62. Willis

    Government climate. Have these geniuses ever wrote an article on whether THAT has any role in civil unrest? Or is climate still the diversion to describe what the travesty these fat cat right wing maniacs are doing to pollute our air because they refuse to go green like Obama and his ilk desire (sarcasm clue). Like that will solve everything.

    August 25, 2011 at 9:18 am |
    • Snark

      What is the thesis of your comment? What evidence do you have to support that thesis?

      August 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  63. Common Sense

    Now they're blaming the myth of man-made "Global Warming" for sub-saharans killing and eating each other?They have been doing it long before the "Global Warming" scam and will doing it long after

    August 25, 2011 at 8:58 am |
    • 1234

      It's called colonialism. Read up on it before you make border line racist comments like this.

      August 25, 2011 at 9:25 am |
    • lokiman301

      Yes it is true that these animals have always been less than human, to put it mildly. What the article is saying is that bad weather just helps to highlight their base and vile behaviour.

      August 25, 2011 at 9:30 am |
      • Snark

        Calling another person an animal reveals genocidal intent on the part of the speaker. Denying the humanity of a target is a necessary step to rationalize what comes later.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  64. fred

    one of the major contributing factors to the French revolutation was colder climate over a several year period which caused crop failure and the food riots . the farmers did not change their crops with the changing weather so they had crop failures ; tyo which Marie-a. said let them eat cake!!!!! thse weather changes have changed history in the American south west ..the aniestee (SPELLED WRONG) indians cir 100-1300 ad , Greenland was settled by farmers untill the weather changed . study history more.

    August 25, 2011 at 8:27 am |
    • Dharma

      LOL - study history more yourself, sir. Marie Antoinette didn't say, "Let them eat cake."

      August 25, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • standingwave

      The Anisazi.

      August 25, 2011 at 5:01 pm |
  65. Ken from FL

    Talk about a misleading freaking headline: "climate change" does not equal El Nino, which is a cyclical WEATHER phenomenon. The authors of the study even caution against equating the two, but does that stop CNN from hyping the study as evidence of the impact of "climate change?"

    August 25, 2011 at 8:24 am |
    • Snark

      El Nino is a change in climate, even if cyclical. The equation of "climate change" and "anthropogenic global warming" was made by you, not CNN.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  66. hammerdsteel

    with these nig guhs climate change ain't shytt. They gonna stab and butcher each other just like their relatives the apes at wanton. Same thing here with them in tha states...they are an out of control lot of TROUBLE througout the world and need to be made extinct!

    August 25, 2011 at 7:57 am |
  67. pplr

    Those who try to blame Global Warming on sunspots at least acknowledge it is happening.

    However they ignore, purposefully, the human hand in it happening and that the theory of sunspot related warming doesn't explain the last few decades where temps have been going up when their theory wouldn't indicate they would.

    Don't think Global Warming is real? Try going to a lake that freezes over and start tracking the date it thaws.

    August 25, 2011 at 7:56 am |
    • Bsideslater

      pplr,

      Global temperatures have been dropping over the past decade they have not been going up as you claim. Also, those who deny man made global warming have often and always said that Earth has been going through a constant climate change, with factors like volcanoes and sun spots being the dominate force.

      August 25, 2011 at 8:03 am |
      • rwmsrobertw

        Your claim that temperatures have been declining over the past decade is false. The decade from 2000 – 2009 has been the hottest in the last 120 years. 2010 was the hottest year on record.

        August 25, 2011 at 10:20 am |
    • Snark

      I appreciate that all of the posters in this group at least acknowledge that it is helpful to understand climate change. There is a deep and rich scientific literature about all of the claims made here, which are – at best – oversimplified. I don't see how anyone can claim they know enough to draw firm conclusions until they survey the arguments of all sides.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • Bob in Pa

      The earths plates are constanly in motion and change the way mass is distributed accross the earth while the earth rotates unevenly on its axis, its position relative to the Sun is constantly changing, the Suns activity is never a constant. Based on these four factors alone, the Human influance on Climate change can never be measured. There will never be two seasons where all the factors will be exactly alike. Those who continue to push this point of Human influance on an ever changing climate must just be control freaks and can't stand the thought of not being able to manipulate something to their liking.

      August 25, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
  68. John

    Y'know, us Americans can have a damned good civil war without the help of some Mexican kid. Thank You Very Mucho.

    August 24, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  69. bob

    Hopefully they keep fighting. Crank the HEAT UP!

    August 24, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
  70. epicjourney

    If you stopped burning fossil fuels completely by tomorrow, 100 years from now you would see negligible difference. I don't believe the effect is significantly measurable. Anyway, if we stopped using oil then the price would collapse and China would then step in and use all that we used plus then some.

    August 24, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • rwmsrobertw

      What you fail to note is that if we continue to burn fossil fuels at an exponentially increasing rate as we are currently doing, things are going to get much worse. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging.

      August 25, 2011 at 10:24 am |
    • Snark

      Evidence for the "stop using" = "no effect" claim?

      I agree with the China argument. The best solution to that is to make alternative options economically competitive. Also, I suspect that the world will eventually sanction countries that cling to fossil fuels, but that's over the horizon....albeit not 100 years ago.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
  71. epicjourney

    If Deserts quadrupled in size between 2500-1500BC as Mr Cooke suggests, it had to be due to burning fossil fuels by early civilizations. We just haven't discovered the evidence yet. I am confident we will and that will be even more evidence of our own polluting folly!

    August 24, 2011 at 5:42 pm |
  72. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Sarah Palin wants to know where this El Nino guy is, and when Navy Seals are going to assassinate him.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  73. Joseph L Cooke

    Deserts quadrupled in size between 2500-1500BC and then shrunk by the same amount beginning at the end of the 17th century – all due to too many cars, power plants, BBQs, and dry cleaners.

    August 24, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • Snark

      To demonstrate that global warming is not the ONLY POSSIBLE CAUSE of historical climate change is to refute a strawperson. Hopefully, you enjoy pummeling scarecrows....

      August 25, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  74. nojello

    This is definitely more flat-earth stuff from the far-left, however, this time they are all holding hands getting ready to jump off the planet!

    August 24, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • VAisGreen

      Deserts have doubled in size since 1970, and this has no impact on human competition for resources? The Joint Chiefs of Staff disagree with you. You are deficient in understanding risk management. Stick your head in the sand and take no action. As the global warming disaster unfolds around you, you can take comfort in your lack of effort to avoid it.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:09 pm |
      • Scott

        Well said, VAisGreen

        August 24, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
      • Brad Baker

        Alright, while i agree with your general point, deserts have NOT doubled in size since 1970. And global warming is going to have a net POSITIVE effect on resources; increasing rainfall and food output for the next 150 years. seriously, for all your Liberal talk about the "scientific consensus" on global warming, you sure have no idea what that consensus is actually on.

        August 24, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
      • Terry Black

        Brad Baker says "global warming is going to have a POSITIVE effect on resources." This is a popular fallacy, which is refuted here: http://www.grist.org/article/whats-wrong-with-warmer-weather

        Essentially, the temperature s changing too rapidly for the ecosystem to compensate, and any local short-term benefit will be overwhelmed by the overall disruption. Surely it's unwise, if you think about it, to see "I'm going to change the climate of the whole world and count on that improving things." Not a good idea.

        August 24, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
      • rwmsrobertw

        Terry Black, your reply to Brad is excellent.

        August 25, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • BrianSoFla

      Based upon your ignorant comment, you obviously didnt read the article, because it makes absolute sense. Probably because you didnt have a FAUX NEWS beady eyed republican read it for you and tell you what the republican party wants you to believe. Therefore, if you dont read an article, you shouldnt comment on something you know absolutely nothing about.

      August 24, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
      • Willis

        Folks with your misdirected vitriol are part and parcel of the reason I cease to vote democrat. You forgot to call that commenter a TeaBagger! Your favorite phrase! It's sad when all you can do is call names and, ironically, accuse anyone whose views oppose yours "brainwashed". You'll all call them baggers, faux news people, foxtards, oh lol lol on the collective 5th grade mentality to form those overly used phrases to describe people who scare you simply because they make you, gasp, think for once like an adult.

        August 25, 2011 at 9:12 am |
      • Jair

        Willis, I hope you ceased voting Republican at the same time, as its just as bad. 'libtards','obamabots' are just a couple of the overused phrases. I'm sure you'll find more perusing the comments. Both sides use the same childish name calling.

        August 25, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Ross

      Yeah – just keep burying your head deeper – the sand is cooler wayyyyyyyy down there!

      August 24, 2011 at 8:09 pm |
    • Snark

      The "far left" is not unified about anything.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • kaitlinsnana

      Like I said, a typo, desserts , not deserts, have grown in size as have our rears.

      August 25, 2011 at 12:20 pm |

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