The Thirty Minute Blogger

Exploring Books and the Writer's Life, Faith and Works, Culture and Pop Culture, Space Science and Science Fiction, Technology and Nostalgia, Parenting and Childhood, Health: Physical and Emotional ... All Under the Iron Hands of the Clock and That 30 Minute Deadline

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Hot and Bothered: Human Violence to Rise with Global Temperatures


On August 2, 2013, an article by Sandy Bauers caught my eye. It was titled, "A warming world and heated humans: Look at 60 studies reveals a pattern of violence." The upshot of the article is, in short, that as global temperatures rise, so will our tempers. Published in the journal Science, the study looks back over 10,000 years of human history to times of heat related crisis (drought) and resultant human behavior. Here are some examples: when the heat rises, domestic violence goes up, people honk more in traffic (which in some cities will lead to more shootings ... did you know that in Russia people have car dashboard movie cameras to document cases of beat downs between motorists who are mad at each other for court cases?), police officers in the Netherlands shot people more when they were hot and bothered, and civil war increases in the African tropics. What really caught my eye, as it relates to an article that stuck with me from decades ago, was the archaeological evidence that drought brought Mayan city states to their knees, leading to crop failure, economic collapse, violence, and civil war.

In the aforementioned old article, I read of one city state among the Mayans where the ruler sent his citizen soldiers on far too many wars of conquest, poorly managed his farm lands (sending his citizen soldier farmers ever further up the surrounding mountains to farm increasingly poor fields), and led those citizens to lives of increasing hardship where they could no longer enjoy any of the benefits of civilization (see the older post on happiness having a $75,000 price tag) and in time stopped believing in their government entirely. First the center of the Mayan city state (the government) was abandoned. No one followed the ruler and he was out. A stella in his name was never finished by the artist, who just walked away one day. For 300 years the rich hung around (probably behind armed enclaves) and then for another 800 years farmers alone remained in the once powerful city state. Rising heat could bring this cycle back. We already have several of the other components in place in many areas.

Security experts are currently sweating over the implications of a rising global temperature. They state climate change could lead to shortages in food, water, electricity, and other resources, leaving people very, very angry and security for the nations increasingly weak. For those arguing that taking on the rising global temperature is bad for the economy, think about how bad these scenarios will be for the economy. From these studies, you can't afford not to act.

I wonder what other weird behaviors might be explained by rising temperatures and fever heated human brains. Could it be that politicians refusing to compromise and people expecting them not to (which makes no sense) are byproducts of rising global temperatures? Could it be that the more inane rallying cries of those politicians and their brain trusts (blaming all bad things on one minority group or another) are results of heat addled minds? What will become of our decision making capabilities as the heat rises? Will terrorism continue to rise, will civil wars become everyday events, will powerful nations become sucked into ever increasing numbers of conflicts over perceived threats that may be the product of overheated minds more than reality? The article ends with the very disturbing prediction that the world will become a very violent place by the middle of this century if climate change continues as predicted.

I don't know about you, but that is not the world I want to hand over to my children and grandchildren. If ever there was a call to action, a call to work to save each other and our planet, this is it.

For the article referenced on happiness's price tag, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/03/yesterday-i-heard-happiness-has-price.html
For another article on violence, see: http://jsbrookspresents.blogspot.com/2013/01/our-violent-heritage-makes-itself-known.html

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