Analysis of violent events in the past 30 years
in sub-Saharan Africa reveals a link to high temperatures, a new
However, the researchers say the impact of
climate is less important than many other social and economic
The relationship between climate change and conflict has
prompted much heated debate among academics. A recent
review of 50 studies found they consistently supported the
theory that changes in climate can cause conflict, but the
conclusion was roundly
criticised by a group of 26 other researchers.
On the face of it, the connections might seem obvious. Climate
change risks exacerbating competition for natural resources,
causing displacement through climate extremes and natural
disasters, or just making it harder for governments to manage
Yet there is limited evidence of a direct link, partly because
there are so many political, social and economic factors involved
in conflict. In its recent
synthesis report, the IPCC says there is "medium confidence"
that climate change can indirectly increase risks of violent
conflict by amplifying poverty and economic shocks.
These other factors are considered alongside climate in a new
study published in Proceedings
of the National Academy of Sciences, which analyses high
temperature extremes and violent events in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study uses temperature and rainfall data alongside a dataset of armed
conflict events from civil wars and periods of instability, for the
period 1980 to 2012. The maps below show this data plotted as 100km
grid squares across sub-Saharan Africa.
On Map A, the dark pink areas show where the highest number of
violent events have occurred in recent decades. For example, the
borders between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda and
Burundi show a large patch of dark pink, as does much of Zimbabwe,
and Somalia on the westernmost point of Africa.