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Last updated at 09:46 BST, Monday, 05 August 2013

Climate change violence

Summary

2 August 2013

Changes to the climate are strongly linked to increases in violence around the world, according to a report in the journal Science. It said even small changes in temperature or rainfall were associated with a rise in conflict.

Reporter:

Rebecca Morelle

Cracked earth in Cyprus

Rising temperatures, rising tempers?

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Report

Researchers from two American universities looked at data recorded from all around the world - and found the same pattern emerge. Their examples include an increase in domestic violence in India during recent droughts, and a spike in assaults, rapes and murders during heatwaves in the US.

The report also suggests rising temperatures correlated with large conflicts - including ethnic clashes in Europe and civil wars in Africa.

The researchers say the link is substantial - and they're now trying to understand why. They believe changing conditions put pressure on resources, such as water and crops - driving some to take up arms.

Other studies show that heat causes a biological response, making people prone to aggression.

The scientists warn that a two-degree-centigrade rise in global temperatures could see personal violence increase by 15%, and group conflicts rise by more than 50% in some regions.

But other research suggests there are more complex factors at play behind most conflicts.

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Vocabulary

data

information, numbers or facts collected by researchers

domestic violence

violence that happens at home, between family members

droughts

periods of very dry weather with little or no rain

a spike in

a sudden rise in

heatwaves

periods when weather is much hotter than normal

correlated with

were directly connected with

to take up arms

to begin fighting with weapons

prone to

likely to behave or respond in a particular way

at play

involved, having an effect