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Climate Change Driving War?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the driving-an-suv-is-now-an-act-of-war dept.

Earth 178

New submitter Stirling Newberry writes "You may have heard of The Great Moderation (PDF), which argues that business cycles have become less volatile over time, and the Green Revolution, a set of initiatives that led to increased global food production. These, it has been argued, have led to a marked decrease in war across the world. But not so fast, says a study in Science. It may well be that periods of war, past and present, can be linked to changes in climate: 'The most direct way in which extreme climate shifts influence human society is through agriculture, Zhang says; a falling supply of crops will drive up the price of gold and cause inflation. Similarly, epidemics can be exacerbated by famine. And when people are miserable, they are likely to become angry with their governments and each other, resulting in war. But golden ages rise out of these dark periods, the team argues. For instance, a 100-year cold period beginning in 1560 caused shortened crop growing seasons. The researchers found a causal linkage with a decline in average human height by nearly an inch during this period, and the century was rife with disease and conflict. But the world began to warm in 1650; when Charles II was crowned king of England in 1660, the coronation sparked the Enlightenment era in Europe.'"

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bring back the kings (1)

hguorbray (967940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37605972)

at least they were doing God's will and the Enlightenment was such a cool time

-I'm just sayin'

Re:bring back the kings (1)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606458)

Well, hopefully we'll have backed up enough knowledge off of electronic media before the big war begins. It won't be hard for us to reproduce a human, but reproducing a combustion engine will be a bit more difficult one or two generations down the line.

Re:bring back the kings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607318)

Just go down south.

Ole Junior right then there was born with a silver hammer! He can build one'er them there small blocks with his arms tied behind his back tighter than a watermelon seed in a frogs butt!

Re:bring back the kings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607260)

Fuck that we need a lord protector. Cromwell was the true badass. He cut off Charles's head because he was being a faggot. Piece and harmony is fucking gay. We need wars, lots of violence, and plenty of loose women. Who the fuck wants to make a movie about piece and harmony. On the other hand everyone wants to make movies about wars, and lots of stuff is blowing up. I think I can speak for every journalist, and movie star, when I say that I want lots of global climate change to bring on lots of violence. By being all gay and wanting piece and shit, you are causing journalists, to go hungry. On the other hand by blowing up random buildings, and killing people who are a different color than yourself, you are supporting the struggling media industry. Don't let Nancy Grace go hungry; kill a nigger / cracker / homosexual today. The economy depends upon it.

-Burn the land, and boil the sea, you can't take the sky away from me.

What next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37605974)

I guess terrorism has lost its appeal.

Quiet here today (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606008)

I doubt this story will generate much comment but what there is will be highly productive.

Random... (1)

ZenDragon (1205104) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606030)

This makes me want to go play a round of Civilization V lol.

Re:Random... (3, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606294)

It gives you a sudden urge to play broken games?

Re:Random... (1)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607670)

It gives you a sudden urge to play broken games?

You have to admit, it's a pretty good analogy for the current political system.

There is no relevance in between Charles II (5, Informative)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606040)

and age of enlightenment. First, age of enlightenment doesnt start well into 18th century.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_Enlightenment [wikipedia.org]

second, precursors of age of enlightenment that are recounted in the above article were already there, starting with early pioneers like erasmus, and going into spinoza, long before charles ii and 1660.

please dont make up ahistoric shit to back up loose arguments.

Re:There is no relevance in between Charles II (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606352)

Please read the link.

Something you should do so you don't look like an idiot..again.

Re:There is no relevance in between Charles II (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606482)

You're off a bit when you say that the Enlightenment didn't start until the eighteenth century, but you're right to call out TFA on picking and choosing it's "golden ages." There are plenty of people who'd cite the Renaissance as a golden age, and the Humanist movements couldn't have come about without surplus wealth (keeping a pet Humanist Latin scholar on the payroll seems to be a hallmark of conspicuous consumption in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries). This hardly bears out the resource shortages of a global climate catastrophe.

It would be interesting to unpack that statement, "The researchers found a causal linkage with a decline in average human height by nearly an inch during this period, and the century was rife with disease and conflict," to see if the prevalence of disease during childhood might detrimentally impact growth. Smallpox doesn't need global climate change to wreak havoc on a population, and it's notorious for striking the poor and the wealthy alike.

Re:There is no relevance in between Charles II (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607046)

actually enlightenment didnt start until 18th century. back before, it was just sporadic pioneers publishing ideas in an isolated, underground fashion. spinoza had to basically work underground at a period, because of potential prosecution. the early 18th century is incomparable on the other hand - just 20 years of early 18th century has prominent pioneers that are almost equal in number to previous 200 years. and at this stage, these ideas were well circulated and openly discussed in bourgeoisie and noble circles. whereas thomas more was feeling the need to fit the king somewhere in his proposed pluralistic view of life, early 18th century pioneers were openly ridiculing and demeaning aristocracy for the most part.

Try again. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606784)

From the Wikipedia article you linked:

Originating about 1650–1700, [the Age of Enlightenment] was sparked by philosophers Baruch Spinoza (1632–1677), John Locke (1632–1704), Pierre Bayle (1647–1706), mathematician Isaac Newton (1643–1727), and Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790).

Re:Try again. (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606906)

read again. what you have responded to. this time, comprehend.

Re:There is no relevance in between Charles II (5, Interesting)

Stirling Newberry (848268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607646)

The terms "Enlightenment" and "Age of Reason" are not so precisely demarcated, many scholars use a long age of enlightenment to mean from the 1650s forward, and others divide into two. This is part of the "lumpers/splitters" problem, that some people like small units, others like large ones. The Wikipedia article takes the lumpers point of view, but that isn't universal. However, it is generally believed in history that the Peace of Westphalia and the coming of absolutism and the "age of Reason" are linked, and that while there were precursors to this, in the form of say King James I of England's The True Law of Free Monarchy and the policies in France, that the turbulence of the Thirty Years War was the trigger for a more general change. So why that war happened, as it did, is an important question, if climate was part of that answer –and more broadly, if climate fluctuations show a correlation to political events, then it changes the notion of what historians, economists, sociologists and political scientists need to study and include in their works. Never again will an author be able to wave their hand and dismiss as anecdotal accounts of climate, because now we have better ability to reconstruct. And if climate isn't a factor, then that too is something that needs to be shown, not just assumed.

In terms of climate and history, for a long time there have been observations of linkage between historical periods and climatic events, one of the most famous of these is the period of reduced growing periods known as the "Little Ice Age" and the destabilization of the medieval order on Eurasia. Another more specific one is the relationship between the volcanic eruptions of the 1770's and 1780's and cold snaps that led to poor harvests as a contributing factor to the fall of the ancien regime. Franklin speculated at the time that the eruptions were leading to cold, and Talleyrand famously quipped that "we are all dancing on a volcano," in reference to the problems of the ancien regime in France and poor harvests which were driving inflation in food and social instability.

However, until recently there were not good paleo-climate reconstructions. Paleo-climatology is a fundamentally computational discipline – it is computers and algorythms by which chronologies are constructed and pieced together: from dendrology, that is trees, ice cores, and other "proxies" for climate. The survey linked to is one of the first, but by no means the last. This is important because much of history has been outside of a real test of theories as to why what happened. As computational climatology matures, it provides a challenge to the dominant view in history, economics, and sociology, that internal factors drive history and events, and a way to apply scientific measurements. Since chronology, and dates, are often "floating" – that is, we don't really know what certain dates in the past were, only our best guesses, it means that instead of arguments over texts, we are getting measurements, and ultimately facts, to determine when events occured. If you see a date before about 1300 BC in a history text, assume it is approximate, simply because our understanding of what dates were is based on reconstructions. That is best guesses.

One of the most important examples of how this matters is in the coming of what is now called the "Neo-lithic Revolution." For a long time it was seen as an internally driven event, however, recent discoveries show that "The Younger Dryas" coincided with the explosion of domestication of plants and animals, but also how many of the first domestication events: figs, rye, dogs, and perhaps goats, were not in the present warm and stable climate era, but in the colder but relatively stable Younger Dryas period. Perhaps, and one has to say perhaps, what later became agriculture started not because it was a good deal, but because times were harder, but more consistent, and the peoples around the world started domestication because it was a cushion when hunting and gathering were not enough, or a seasonal activity.

My hope in presenting the links was both to show how economics and history believe that "internal" matters more, and how computational science is beginning to challenge that notion. Climate matters, both historically, when we are talking about natural climate patterns, and in more recent times, when human activity has measurable effects on temperature, and as yet not well understood on climate and stability.

Computation is changing everything, even the humanities, and that's important.

Re:There is no relevance in between Charles II (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37608106)

Clearly, you do not understand the dynamics of pschohistory.

Re:There is no relevance in between Charles II (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608686)

Your heading/statement, I agree with.

Sorry, I'm not going to get all academic here, and start searching for references - but I can't see that any royalty ever had much to do with "enlightenment". Royalty was always conservative in the true sense of the word, rather than the common political sense that we see today. Royalty didn't voluntarily decide that it would be nice to free the serfs. Instead, the serfs held royalty at sword point, and demanded freedom.

Ehh. Enlightenment. Whatever.

However, I do belong to the school of thought that most upheavals in history were caused by climate change. The authors are on the right track, but their biases seem to be pushing them askew.

Carbon Credit Schemes Are (2, Interesting)

Kohath (38547) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606050)

NY Times [nytimes.com] :

KICUCULA, Uganda — According to the company’s proposal to join a United Nations clean-air program, the settlers living in this area left in a “peaceful” and “voluntary” manner.

People here remember it quite differently.

“I heard people being beaten, so I ran outside,” said Emmanuel Cyicyima, 33. “The houses were being burnt down.”

Other villagers described gun-toting soldiers and an 8-year-old child burning to death when his home was set ablaze by security officers.

. . .

But in this case, the government and the company said the settlers were illegal and evicted for a good cause: to protect the environment and help fight global warming.

If not war, at least oppression.

Re:Carbon Credit Schemes Are (4, Interesting)

kanto (1851816) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606744)

Well obviously this is cause enough to destroy the environment. I really find it disgusting how much human suffering is ok to secure oil production and rights, but if you can link how ever strenuously an incident to environmental protection it's suddenly a policy changer. Surely it's not like the people in 3rd world countries don't get fucked ever which way by corporations legislated to be sociopaths?

Re:Carbon Credit Schemes Are (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37608024)

Funny, I wasn't aware of a nation named "New Forests Company"

Oh well, I'm sure that there's some rant in there somewhere about how evil liberuls are forcing corporations to make money.

Climate Wars (1)

ElrondHubbard (13672) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606072)

Gwynne Dyer has written a book that is an excellent starting point for this issue: Climate Wars [amazon.com] . He is a journalist and military historian who spent a year or two interviewing military planners who see exactly this issue on the horizon. Check out his website for a three-part radio series [gwynnedyer.com] based on the book, for those who might not want to invest the time to read the entire book.

Re:Climate Wars (2)

NeutronCowboy (896098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606284)

I think the idea that climate changes in general, and food issues specifically, will lead to war is pretty well accepted. Almost every war ever was started over natural resources (WW 1 being a fairly large exception), and quite a few were started over food resources (part of Hitler's goal in WW2 was to get access to more arable land in Eastern Europe).

What I do find a bit surprising is that strong correlation between variables is deemed a causal link. It's not. A causal link is a mechanism that ties two events together. These are variables that are tied together by some fairly fluffy socioeconomic theories. To some extent, they're not wrong - it's pretty easy to see that if someone's hungry, they're more likely to club their neighbor over the head for some food than if they're not. But I think they're trying a bit hard with their paper.

Re:Climate Wars (2)

catchblue22 (1004569) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607606)

I think the idea that climate changes in general, and food issues specifically, will lead to war is pretty well accepted.

When I see people talking about climate and its relationship with incidents such as the rise and fall of civilizations or wars specifically, I somewhat agree. However, I believe it is more complicated than this. My problem with such ideas is that they seem to minimize such things as the role of culture in the prosperity of a society. As an analogue, consider the debate about the role of "nature versus nurture" in the lives of children growing to adults. In the past it was argued that parenting was the most important factor in determining a child's success in life, and that children were like blank slates. Others argued that genetics were far more important. I think those who study such things today say that both nature and nurture play a role. A great example I heard was that the genetics are analogous to the "quality of the musical instrument", but that nurture and free will still have an influence in the types of music that can be played.

I think the problem I have with saying that climate controls the fate of civilizations is that it removes our ability to choose, to influence our fate. I refuse to accept that we as humans are simply debris floating helplessly down the river of fate. We have the ability to change things.

Re:Climate Wars (5, Interesting)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607194)

FWIW, both the US military and the US intelligence community have, in official reports, identified climate change as one of the biggest threats to national security that the US will have to deal with this century.

What is going to be bad, IMO, is that the shift in temperature zones is gong to turn some of the agricultural "haves" into "have nots", and vice versa. Some people are going to fight that change - with guns.

On a side note, the latest Scientific American has an article about the discovery of large deposits of rare elements in Afghanistan. My first thought was, "Oh, boy! That's really going to help stop all the fighting."

Re:Climate Wars (1)

Layzej (1976930) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608502)

The Washington post gives some recent examples where spikes in global food prices, driven mainly by recent droughts and floods, are leading to violence: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/political-economy/2011/01/spike_in_global_food_prices_tr.html [washingtonpost.com]

The state of emergency in Tunisia has economists worried that we may be seeing the beginnings of a second wave of global food riots. Battered by bad weather and increasing demand from the developing world, the global food supply system is buckling under the strain.

This month, the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) reported that its food price index jumped 32 percent in the second half of 2010 — surpassing the previous record, set in the early summer of 2008, when deadly clashes over food broke out around the world, from Haiti to Somalia

The price of grains began to rise last fall after fires in Russia wiped out hundreds of thousands of acres of grains and heavy rain destroyed much of Canada’s wheat crop. The problems were followed by hot, dry weather in Argentina that devastated the soybean crop of the key exporter. This month, floods in Australia destroyed much of the country’s wheat crop.

Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali on Thursday vowed to reduce the price of staples such as sugar, milk and bread ,but the pledge wasn’t enough to placate the thousands of protesters who mobbed the capital, Tunis, on Friday to demand his ouster. The country’s prime minister, Mohammed Ghannouchi, has appeared on state TV to announce he is assuming power.

Yes, of course (2)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606096)

As the Earth heats, we can expect to find less arable land. At the same time we're running out of fossil fuels which are required for the haber process to fix nitrogen for fertilizer. With nearly 7 billion people on the planet, something is going to give. There's going to be a great deal of conflict over the few resources we haven't squandered yet.

Re:Yes, of course (2)

maxume (22995) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606202)

You don't need fossil fuels to make ammonia, you can just get some hydrogen out of some water.

Methane is a cheap convenient source for hydrogen, so it is a popular feedstock.

So the problem is still just energy, fossil fuels aren't particularly crucial.

Hydrogen is not the issue. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607016)

It's the nitrogen, stupid.

Re:Hydrogen is not the issue. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607538)

It's always amazed me that our atmosphere is mostly nitrogen, yet the plants can't utilize it - they need to fix nitrogen in the ground. I know atmospheric nitrogen is N2 which is harder to crack, but you'd think plants would have evolved some way. They build most of their mass from CO2, which is a trace gas. I wonder if this is something we could do with genetic engineering: "fertilizer stock crops"?

Re:Yes, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606220)

Not necessarily. Climate models predict that, with more carbon around, Net Primary Production, essentially the ability of a piece of land to support biomass, actually can increase on both local and global scales. The key is that arable land is shifting, disappearing in some areas, but appearing in increasingly northern latitudes as the phenology further north becomes more suitable to agriculture. Just saying that global environmental change destroys arable land misses this.

Re:Yes, of course (-1, Troll)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606326)

> As the Earth heats, we can expect to find less arable land.

Oh bull poop. Ever looked at a map? Noticed how much land mass is currently useless for growing in Russia, Canada, etc? Warm things up a bit and we will lose some land and gain some.

Anyway, this is the second Warmer story today, this is getting silly. This isn't dkos... or it least it wasn't.

Re:Yes, of course (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606500)

Warm things up a bit and we will lose some land and gain some.

That sounds awfully like the argument that CO2 can't possibly be a greenhouse gas because Mars has CO2 for 99% of its atmosphere and Mars is very cold.

Re:Yes, of course (2)

a_nonamiss (743253) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606602)

GP might mean that there will be less arable land in the United States. That's probably true. Guess we'd all better start learning to speak Canadian, Eh?

Re:Yes, of course (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607880)

What makes you think Canada wants a giant influx of American refugees? A warming Earth will be good for Canada (and Russia, and other northern countries), and it'll also work out OK for those who are allowed to emigrate to those countries, but it won't be good for everyone else.

Re:Yes, of course (5, Insightful)

KeensMustard (655606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606776)

Oh bull poop. Ever looked at a map? Noticed how much land mass is currently useless for growing in Russia, Canada, etc? Warm things up a bit and we will lose some land and gain some.

Maybe you should try looking at a globe rather than a map imaged from a Mercator projection. Then you will see that areas in the high (and low) latitudes are far smaller than you believe.

Secondly you might want to think about how fertile the soil in siberia would be - currently this soil is frozen in permafrost, and covered in pine forest. Neither condition is conducive to soil fertility. If the permafrost melts (releasing it's methane) then Siberia will be an infertile, poisonous swamp.

Anyway, this is the second Warmer story today, this is getting silly. This isn't dkos... or it least it wasn't.

Does this topic make you uncomfortable?

Re:Yes, of course (0)

khallow (566160) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607280)

Maybe you should try looking at a globe rather than a map imaged from a Mercator projection. Then you will see that areas in the high (and low) latitudes are far smaller than you believe.

Why do you think he hasn't already done this? There's a lot of land in the far North even if you look at a globe.

Secondly you might want to think about how fertile the soil in siberia would be - currently this soil is frozen in permafrost, and covered in pine forest. Neither condition is conducive to soil fertility. If the permafrost melts (releasing it's methane) then Siberia will be an infertile, poisonous swamp.

Where does the methane in permafrost come from? Organic matter in permafrost. So when the permafrost goes away, you end up with the basic ingredients for a fertile soil. Just drain the water and add appropriate fauna.

And being covered by a pine forest is a strong indicator of fertility though the trees will probably remove much of the carbon in the soil. The forest indicates that the soil has plenty of the other things that plants need.

Re:Yes, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37608576)

though the trees will probably remove much of the carbon in the soil

I thought that your post was entirely reasonable, and then you said this. Perhaps you meant something other than carbon and it was a typo or brainfart, but I still can't pretend to take you seriously or think that I should listen to anything you have to say with this in there. Carbon is not obtained from the soil...

Re:Yes, of course (1)

tbird20d (600059) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608452)

I remember reading an article (sorry, can't find the reference) about how a Russian experiment to determine how to make tundra into farmland was ruined by warm summers during the experiment. Basically stuff started growing on it's own without the measures they expected to perform. The article moaned about how global warming was ruining this important research. I was confused, as it seemed like global warming was making the research unnecessary.

Re:Yes, of course (0, Troll)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606842)

Anyway, this is the second Warmer story today, this is getting silly.

Oh, shut the fuck up. Just because you prefer magic to science doesn't mean everyone does. Why not just call Al Gore fat and leave it at that, for all you add to the conversation.

Listening to Rush Limbaugh douchebags go on about how global warming is gonna be so great for everyone so we should all just drill baby drill makes me understand more clearly why the US has fallen to such a sad state over the past thirty years.

Warm things up a bit and we will lose some land and gain some.

Unfortunately, the US is going to be the one losing arable land. Didn't think that one all the way through, did you, jmorris42. How much of the Southern US has to go down in flames every year before you start to realize that this global warming stuff might not be such a picnic. Texas has just this summer lost $5.2 Billion in crops to wildfires. How many tens of billions were lost in the storms across the East and South?

How bad does it have to get before you turn off the AM radio and realize you've let your hatred of anyone smarter or better educated than you lead you into following a bankrupt "conservative" ideology that is in no way conservative?

Re:Yes, of course (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607914)

Actually, it does seem like global warming will be good for some people, such as the Canadians, who will get more arable land, as well as a northwest passage for shipping, which is currently covered in ice. The Russians might do well with it too, plus the Scandinavians.

Most everyone else is going to be screwed, though. Canada is fairly welcoming to some immigrants (if you score enough points on their qualification system, or have a big bundle of cash ($300k)), but they're not going to just open their borders for all the climate refugees of the world. Moreover, a giant portion of the population lives in cities at sea level. A warming earth will cause ice to melt and sea levels to rise, flooding these cities and forcing a mass relocation. Some island countries are even in danger of disappearing from the map.

Re:Yes, of course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37608048)

Canada is fairly welcoming to some immigrants...

Oh, just wait. The CPC finally got the majority government they've been creaming their jeans over since 2004, so that's all about to change.

Re:Yes, of course (4, Insightful)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607040)

The soil on much of that northern land is not really suitable for growing crops and it will take at least decades if not centuries to make it suitable. Good soil is a living thing that takes time to develop.

Re:Yes, of course (5, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607426)

The Russian drought last year, which triggered them to ban grain exports, lead to higher food prices, especially in importer nations such as the middle east. High food prices in large part triggered the Arab Spring, in which a handful of governments were overturned. So, it is arguable whether this premise is even a prediction, or simply a predicted continuation of recent events.

Re:Yes, of course (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607870)

Noticed how much land mass is currently useless for growing in Russia, Canada, etc?

That's good if you're Canadian or Russian, but if you're, for instance, African, that doesn't help you too much. Much of the population lives much closer to the equator than Canada and Siberia, and a warming earth is not going to be good for them. And I don't think Canada and Russia are going to open their borders for anyone to move there who wants to.

Re:Yes, of course (2)

Telvin_3d (855514) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608176)

Actually, as far as Canada in concerned at least, we are already farming about as much as can be farmed. There is farming and ranching at least up to 60* latitude, probably further in some places. Gets nice and warm in the summer too. Axial tilt means looooooong summer days. Lots of light, very good growing season. Get far enough north and the sun doesn't set. My uncle has a ranching operation and the long days mean that he can grow as much hay in three months of almost continuous sunshine as some places can grow in five at lower latitudes.

Land not being farmed now is not being farmed because of other reasons. Middle of no-where and can't get to market. Bad geography. Bad soil. Lot of things that global warming won't change.

Re:Yes, of course (1)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606480)

As the Earth heats, we can expect to find less arable land.

Care to explain this one? More heat = more precipitation, longer growing seasons, and the ability to grow crops at higher latitudes. That should mean more arable land, right?

Re:Yes, of course (2)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607054)

Ask the farmers in the Midwest how all that precipitation last winter/spring helped their crop yields this year.

Re:Yes, of course (0)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607278)

It turns out flood control is doesn't work if you keep your reservoirs filled to capacity. Who knew? At least it's something that is easy to avoid in the future. Also, I suspect that you are not aware how much yields were actually affected [ethanolproducer.com] . The answer to your question is that overall yields weren't affected much. We're not going to be starving to death from lack of corn anytime soon.

Re:Yes, of course (3, Informative)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608496)

Even if the reservoirs had been empty there would have still been flooding. It may not have been quite as bad but it would have happened.

Regarding crop yields:
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/08/30/us-farming-floods-arkansas-idUSTRE77T02P20110830 [reuters.com]
http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2011/0511/Mississippi-flooding-drowns-crops-and-casinos-What-s-the-economic-toll [csmonitor.com]
http://www.estormwater.com/Flooding-on-the-Farm-article9528 [estormwater.com]

It may not have been as bad as first feared but lots of farmers took it in the shorts this year because of the flooding.

Re:Yes, of course (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608570)

How cute, linking to a 2008 (ethanol) crop report in a discussion about the flooding [infrastructureusa.org] and/or drought [unl.edu] in 2011.

$2 billion in cattle lost, $2 billion in cotton lost, $1 billion in corn/wheat/others lost, with the wheat production estimated to be 35% of normal while prices are 139% normal. [tamu.edu] And that's just Texas, and only "so far this year" (it's expected to stay drier than normal until next year, with La Nina in effect this winter [noaa.gov] ). .

NASS's nationwide crop estimate report for September [cornell.edu] (summary of the executive summary: corn estimate had to be reduced 3% since August but is still just barely above last year's crop, soybeans are down 7% from last year, cotton is down 9%, oranges are down 8%). If I'm reading the rest right, the rice production estimate is down 20% from last year's production, sugarcane +5%, tobacco -12%, barley -7%, oats -29%, wheat -6%, peanuts -17%, spring and summer potato production were up (+3% and +15% respectively) but the larger fall crop hasn't begun yet (2010 spring summer and fall crops were roughly 2.4M, 1.1M and 36M lbs respectively).

BTW What good is a longer (summer) growing season when it delays fall planting? What good is a hotter summer growing season when July kills your crop?

Oh? (3, Interesting)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607890)

As the Earth heats, we can expect to find less arable land.

That's news to Africans seeing the desert go green around them [nationalgeographic.com] as it becomes more moist, not less.

Throughout Earth's history, hot = wet, most of the time.

Re:Yes, of course (1)

dbet (1607261) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608558)

On the other hand, as you increase atmospheric CO2, plants need less water [wattsupwiththat.com] and can grow in areas they couldn't before.

Re:Yes, of course (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608688)

Actually, as the earth heats, we can expect to find more arable land. Global average temperature rise has been driven by higher lows, not lower highs (that is, the difference between the low temperature and high temperature has begun to shrink, with the lows coming up, driving up the overall average). At the most extreme scenario, if the earth became much like the Late Eocene, Antarctica would become a veritable temperate paradise viable for much more biodiversity, and the tropics (with all the plant growth that comes with it) would extend into the upper and lower latitudes.

Fun fact - the referenced article tends to tie periods of strife with global *cooling* periods.

"Results show that cooling from A.D. 1560–1660 caused successive agro-ecological, socioeconomic, and demographic catastrophes, leading to the General Crisis of the Seventeenth Century"

Er, what? (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606122)

I haven't read TFA yet, but what's with the "but not so fast, says a study in Science" bit?

There's a theory that economic stability combined with a surplus of food production leads to less war and conflict. Science's study claims (according to the summary) that changes in climate in the past have disrupted crops, leading to food deficits, and that has resulted in more war and conflict. When the climate changed again and food surpluses increased, less war and conflict.

It seems like the theory and the study by Science are in violent agreement rather than one refuting the other?

Driving Wars (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606146)

I read the headline and though this was going to be an article about a new kind of road rage between Prius and Hummer owners.

Why would it be positive (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606150)

But golden ages rise out of these dark period

Why is this so surprising and why is it stated as if one needs a "dark period" to get to a "golden age" ?

Each dark period wil be surpassed eventually, making everything after it look golden.

Added to that, once there is a system in place that circumvents the aspects leading up to the dark age, there will be time and energy freed to occupy oneself with other things as the basics -that haven't been covered for a long time- get covered for.

I would rather state that a golden age turns into a dark age once people lose focus and forgot how and why a golden age happened. And what made it stay into being before it collapses.

Already been studied to a "degree" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606160)

I read a report last year (sorry no link) that found a direct relation between violent crime rates and higher temperatures. Wouldn't this be an extension of these results?

Not convincing (1)

erick99 (743982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606164)

It's not that hard to find a relationship between any two large-scale variables but it still doesn't allow for a causative statement. I teach statistics to freshman and sophomores and spend a lot of time on trying to explain to them how to critically examine articles such as this. I'm not saying that it's wrong, but I don't see the scientific legwork that would make it a more substantial statement.

Re:Not convincing (1)

homer_ca (144738) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607476)

One possible explanation: Population dieoffs are followed by labor shortages and hence, more egalitarian societies. e.g. Black Death and Renaissance

You keep using that term... (0)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606188)

a falling supply of crops will drive up the price of gold and cause inflation

Inflation is not an increase in prices. Inflation is the increase in supply of a good that has a monetary use. For example, when Bernake decides to fire up the printing presses and issue more paper dollars, that is inflation. The resulting increase in prices is the result of inflation, but is not inflation itself. In this case if failing crops meant that more people worked as miners and the supply of gold increased, that would be inflation, but an increase in prices is not inflation.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606290)

Wrong.

Inflation is an increase in prices. It can be caused by an unnatural increase in the supply of currency, but it can also be caused by an overall decrease in supply or by an overall increase in demand.

The price of gold, however, is not related to anything other than the demand for gold (there's way more supply than anyone can use for anything other than swimming in). Gold is no longer a monetary standard. Anyone telling you that it is is a liar. Anyone telling you that Gold retains its value during economic troubles is completely full of shit (see any graph of gold and/or silver prices during the 2007 crash and beyond; it was a less-worse investment than the average equity, but it still declined in value, which means CASH was your best investment during that period). Gold is the classic overspeculated commodity. Its real value is a small fraction of the greed value generated by hucksters. Invest in it at your peril.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606440)

Um... so obviously you haven't seen the graph of gold prices. From 2007 to present gold has gone from $640 an ounce to the present $1600+ an ounce (though the real price of physical gold is /much/ higher, it is only paper gold being sold, don't believe me? try buying physical bullion, you will find that the premiums are much higher now than it was back when silver was $40 and gold was $1850). At the same time, the US dollar is being debased at an alarming rate (see http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/data/BASE_Max_630_378.png [stlouisfed.org] ) the only reason it is becoming "stronger" is because China keeps its currency devalued and the Euro is on brink of collapsing. If there was "way too much gold supply" on the market surely someone would be selling massive amounts of it to take advantage of it being overpriced. But instead, no one is doing it. Why? Because gold is still undervalued (and the dollar is overvalued). Silver is even more convincing of a case.

Physical commodities are the only thing that won't be fully affected by the impending collapse of fiat currency. Historically every single fiat currency has failed. Historically, people owning precious metals or non-debased coins have been much better off than those storing their wealth in fiat currency or debased coins. I tend to side with history.

Re:You keep using that term... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606844)

Historically, every single fiat currency has failed? Except the ones that are still around, I guess...

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606966)

Except, historically there are none that really are "still around" the US has only had fiat currency since Nixon decided to take us off the gold standard (and by extension most of the world) so most currencies have only been fiat since about 40 years ago. And let's see a list of currencies that aren't around in their original form thanks to fiat currencies.

Most notably, the Zimbabwean Dollar and the German Mark but many other countries too, the Mexican Peso, Hungarian Krona, Greek Drachma, Chinese Yuan, Yugoslavian Dinar, Russian/Soviet Ruble, etc. the list goes on and on.

The only fiat currencies that haven't failed have been very recent inventions, history has shown that every fiat currency fails.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607036)

Most failed currencies are worth more than face value now.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606988)

http://finance.yahoo.com/q/bc?t=5y&s=GLD&l=on&z=l&q=l&c=&c= [yahoo.com] ^GSPC&c=^IXIC&c=^DJI

Gold was overbought at the start of the 07-08 crash, and then overbought at the end.

In between, it crashed along with stocks.

You were better off being in cash.

Since then, it's risen slightly better than stocks, but not enough to make up for the fact that it's a bloated commodity with no real value of its own except for electronic contacts and bling. If there's anything on this earth whose value is phony, it's gold's.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607156)

First off, you are comparing two different things, real gold (as in, physical, have it in your hand metal) and paper gold (as in, you don't really own it). Go to a few bullion dealers, places like pawn shops, coin shops, jewelry shops, etc. and you will find that the paper price isn't the real price of gold. It is even more so in silver, and we aren't talking about things like pre-1933 US gold and US silver dollars which have a high premium due to their collectability but the cheapest things they have, silver rounds, 'junk silver' (worn silver coins previously in everyday circulation but have no collector value beyond bullion) gold bars, etc. and you will find that especially now the paper price and the real price are vastly different.

And it hasn't "crashed" it had a temporary decrease in prices and quickly recovered. On the other hand, barring a massive burning of money or a massive, massive, massive, population increase cash will crash and will crash quickly. If you want to talk about a bloated commodity, talk about cash. It is worthless, being debased at an alarming rate and you are taking a guaranteed loss.

Spend as much fiat currency for commodities while it is still spendable, a time is coming where people will reject fiat currency because it is worthless, unlike commodities. Copper, gold, silver, nickel, oil, etc. are all solid investments when compared to taking a guaranteed loss.

Re:You keep using that term... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607736)

You are an idiot. It's the pawn shop clerk's job to rip you off, and that has nothing to do with "the real value" of gold. When banks and governments move perfectly real gold around tons at a time, do you think they use pawn shop prices? Or those fly-by-night "we buy gold" operations that have popped up everywhere? No, their prices are those in the commodity market, which you call paper. Just like any other commodity (such as steel, corn, oil etc) traded on global market.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607820)

Right... Because you don't see that in corn at all. The price that paper corn says is the /exact/ same price you see at the supermarket on the side of the road right? No, of course not. Physical and imaginary commodities trade at different prices. When the price of paper corn goes up, you can expect the price of physical corn to go up, but it might not go up by the same amount or percentage. "We Buy Gold" places also do not use the paper price, they trade on what the uninformed public views their scrap gold as worth. Heck, most of the public doesn't even know how much gold is in their gold jewellery. There are multiple markets each with their own price. And when they move around physical gold (which happens rarely) it still trades at a different price. No one is ripping anyone off, there are multiple markets each with different prices. Currently, the price for real, physical gold is much higher than the price in commodity or paper gold. It is even more evident in the silver market, for example a "junk" silver Peace Dollar has a melt value of about $23 and little to no collector value. Today they are selling for around $27 from nearly every single coin dealer, both online and offline, about a $4 premium at $30/troy ounce silver. On the other hand, when silver was near $40 and the melt value of a junk Peace Dollar was at $31, coin dealers were selling them at $32.50 or $33 a coin, much less of a premium. It is then safe to say that the real market price of silver is much higher than the paper price of $30.

Re:You keep using that term... (1)

Vaphell (1489021) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606698)

1. at least the definition used by Austrians (quantification of money pool) is precise while the common definition is a watered down crap full of substitutions and holistics that doesn't pass the smell test at the gas pump and grocery store.

2. on the other hand when you measure performance from 2000 you get +400% return on gold and bullshit on inflated dollar (check out dollar index graph going down from 120 to 80)

3. 1 month ago swiss franc lost 10% in a blink of an eye just because the swiss central bank said so (peg to euro 1.2:1). Safety my ass. Besides during the meltdown all currencies went down against the dollar (big selloffs of non-US stuff) so it's not that cash is a magical protection in hard times. Monies I use every day dropped like a stone then.

Re:You keep using that term... (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607022)

Why are you measuring from 2000? Why not measure from 1980 to 2000? Oh that's right, because you're cherrypicking your data to suit your conclusion.

http://goldprice.org/charts/history/gold_all_data_o_usd.png [goldprice.org]

See any similarities there between the 76-80 period and the 00-11 period?

Gold is down 15% in the past month, btw.

If you want to know what's causing the markets to roil, it's the hedgies unwinding their equities to pay margin calls on their gold futures.

Does this mean we get to shoot polluters? (2)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606216)

And then blame the smog of war?

Re:Does this mean we get to shoot polluters? (0)

sanzibar (2043920) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607412)

Oh my that is a great big Glass House you live in. I bet you power it with evil coal....
Wouldn't it be great if the entire following stopped being so damn hypocritical and disappeared from the grid?
Our problems would be solved.

Re:Does this mean we get to shoot polluters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607470)

How exactly are you not a polluter? Glass houses.....

Poor hippies (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606280)

Now that global warming is causing world peace, how will they know what to think?

Re:Poor hippies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606374)

The article says climate shifts cause war not peace.

Nope... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606310)

Bio-fuel tax credits and subsidies are driving war.
Thanks to the Ethanol lobby, food price inflation was 17% in the year leading up to the Egyptian uprising.

Stop burning food!

Re:Nope... (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607962)

I don't agree with turning food into fuel on a large scale but the spike in food prices has more to do with the Russian's stopping all wheat exports due to drought last year, also drought here in Oz has seen our harvests down by 50% for all but a couple of seasons since 1998. Russia and Australia are the 1st and 4th largest exporters of wheat respectively and together they have far more influence on the price of bread than US ethanol lobbyists.

This subject is far (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606362)

to subtle for /.

Subtle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607296)

It starts with a false premise, man made climate change, and then rushes towards the desired outcome, Global WWIII.

Nope, not subtle. Pretty blunt propaganda from bankrupt countries, bankrupt financial systems and the globalists. We all know global warming is false, and that the countries, the banks and the globalists want World War to solve the mess they created.

The slashdotters have already looked at the answers at the back of the book (not that they needed to) , and don't want to play this game.

The great moderation = great recession (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606364)

Debt made the great moderation as the normal economic cycles were not following the laws of economics due to the inflated money supply. When the bills were due we ended up where we are at today with the fed printing more money and inflating the money supply yet again to pay the debt. Sigh

Not exactly a new theory ... (2)

jc42 (318812) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606562)

For example, the past couple decades of local wars in the Sahel are conventionally attributed to the spreading of the desert. People there have faced the choice of staying home and starving, or moving south, where the land is already at carrying capacity and the people are prepared to defend their barely-livable land from the armed refugees from up north.

Similarly, the Viking excursions are typically explained by the increasing population in Scandinavia (and the first significant adoption of agriculture there) in the 8th and 9th centuries, followed by decades in which the crops mostly failed. Again, the Norse had the choice of staying home and starving, or sailing away and looking for better places to live. But all those places were already inhabited, so it was really a choice of starve at home or fight abroad.

So what's new about this story? Isn't it just a repeat of much of our history? Or at least, it's a repeat of our explanations for much of our history.

It's true, so much as war has changed society (1)

ALeader71 (687693) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606662)

Climate change linked changes to agriculture has greatly influenced society. The Medieval Warm Period led to an explosion of population, which led to Viking Raids for lands and plunder. The ending of Viking Raids and the glut of soldiers led to the Crusades - remember, the Moors conquered the Holy Land well before the first Crusade. The mini-Ice Age has been linked to everything from literature to the American Revolution. Likewise, periods of population growth led to plague outbreaks which curtailed populations prior to the 1960s and mass vaccinations. Now most civilians believe the flu is a nuisance disease. No one remembers the pandemic of the 60s or the quarantines of the early United States.

Meaningless drivel (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606748)

But at least it acknowledges the last major warming, which is more than the IPCC.

Anything else (2)

amightywind (691887) | more than 2 years ago | (#37606778)

Is there anything that the shameless left claims is not effected by climate change? What a racket!

Re:Anything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607008)

i'll second that!

Re:Anything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607912)

Is there anything that the cretinous, anti-science right doesn't blame on machinations of the non-existent American left?

It doesn't matter if it's evironmental pro

Re:Anything else (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608240)

Is there anything that the shameless left claims is not effected by climate change? What a racket!

I claim that a lot of people's minds aren't affected by climate change.

Rats, tyrants more dangerous than climate change (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37606800)

"For instance, a 100-year cold period beginning in 1560 caused shortened crop growing seasons."

It also helped in the decline of the rat population in central and northern Europe which in turn lessened the severity of the black plague. It did not necessarily increase the propensity for war. The energy to wage war was moderated greatly by the black plague and this seems to be the main reason why war was not as much of problem before the mini ice age of the 1600-1700s. If a group of people is oppressed by king or warlords (Somalia today for example ) or several other African national groups, then they are much more susceptible to famine because the leadership is fractured and incoherent. This is exactly how and why most tyrants are born.

Hitler took advantage of public distrust and angst with government so do most other power hungry would be tyrants who see the opportunities that agitation during times of adversity brings. Unfortunately the United States and other democracies are two pay checks away from kaos. The difference is that fortunately there is a public spirit and it does kick in (the dirty 30s), we are at heart a good society and will not tolerate bad leadership or bad corporations very long. We do in times of adversity band together to make things work in ways that greedy private corporations cannot. The best example is how we helped each other in the 1930s and this will happen again if things do start to really fall apart.

Darfur (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607004)

The situation in Darfur is an example of conflict caused by climate change. As the traditional areas the nomadic people used dried out they were forced to move south into areas where farmers were. We can expect more of it in the future.

Re:Darfur (1)

hsthompson69 (1674722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608732)

Fair enough, but you could make the same case for the fall of the Thracians, or the Inca or the Maya or any number of conflicts before the industrial age.

Yes, climate change can cause conflict (and Jared Diamond does a great job showing examples in his book "Collapse"). Yes, we can expect more of it in the future, because just as climate changed 1000 years ago, it will continue to change for the next 1000 years.

Jumping from that to "climate is going to change more/worse because of human activity" is a stretch.

Driving and War (1)

Chardansearavitriol (1946886) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607122)

Driving and War seem to actually be the causes of climate change. So by climate change now driving countries to war, we have entered a stage not unlike a panic disorder, where everything circles back around to cause itself, perpetually. Like panic disorder, I fear we may not notice this til we're too late.

War is eternal (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607124)

There has always been war and I really doubt there will come a time when there is no war. Ever.

That said, I think we're going to enter a more violent stage of human history as power is distributed and the various economies equalize. The third world is rising... and with that the third world will demand an equal share of power. Old or irrelevant hatreds will boil to the surface after hundreds of years of being suppressed.

If America is wise it will choose its battles and let some of these wars spend themselves on other targets rather then trying to absorb everything personally.

War will continue... the only thing you can really do is stay out of the wars that don't concern you and make a point of winning the wars that do concern you. Beyond that... war will come.

Here we go again... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607130)

A gold plated turd is still a turd. Nobody is swallowing this anymore.

It's the economy stupid. (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#37607530)

All led by the US run-away fiat currency (inflation), housing bubbles, wars and the European style of socialism. Of course we have no money left to give away. The middle east was always sucking of the financial tit of the west (investments and donations). Only when the nipples started producing less milk did they start to cry. So ya, Arab Spring was bound to happen in such a global financial environment.

Food inflation and "climate Change" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37607560)

Using food as fuel (corn) has contributed to food cost inflation. I supposed that increased cost of corn can be attributed to "climate change" since ethanol was sold as a way of reducing CO2 from automobiles. As my stats professor said, everything in the world can be corrolated at the 20% level.

Oh thank goodness (1)

NetNed (955141) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608420)

Because I was sure it was the shitty job our crooked politicians are doing that is the reason citizens are becoming increasingly unhappy with the US government, when all along it was just "climate change".

Perhaps this line of thinking is backwards (1)

Kojow777 (929199) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608796)

Perhaps the opposite is true, and it is people's attitudes that trigger climate change, bad weather patterns, etc. Maybe not in every circumstance, but probably in quite a few.

The Bible in many places suggests that when people start to get into a right relationship with God, that God will step in and bring healing to the land, climate, crops, etc. See for instance 2 Chronicles 7:14:

"If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land."

It's an interesting line of reasoning anyhow.

Climate change responsible for all the ills of man (1)

Chas (5144) | more than 2 years ago | (#37608798)

I guess Eve, Lillith and all the other woman-spawns out there are off the hook.

At least for now...

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