A debate among scientists over climate change and conflict has turned ugly. At issue is the question of whether the hotter temperatures and chaotic weather produced by climate change are causing higher rates of violence. A new analysis refutes earlier research that found a link, and the two lead researchers are exchanging some pointed remarks.
Last year, a team of U.S. researchers reported a robust connection between climate and violence in Science. But in a critique published online yesterday in Climatic Change, a team of mostly European researchers dismissed the connection as “inconclusive.” The Scienceauthors are hitting back, claiming that the critics are fudging the statistics and even manipulating their figures. The new analysis “is entirely based on surprisingly bold misrepresentations of our article, the literature, basic statistics, and their own findings,” says Solomon Hsiang, the lead author of the Science paper and an economist at the University of California, Berkeley.
Solow adds that he is “not a big fan” of meta-analysis, in part because the technique sparks disputes like these. Rather than directly addressing the scientific question of whether climate change is causing an increase in conflict, he says, “this disagreement is over the degree to which studies of the climate-conflict link agree [with each other].”