Do Hotter Temperatures Result In More Violence?

Hot under the collar is a common turn of phrase employed to describe an angry individual. But a new study published in the journal Science (subscription required) posits that rising temperatures could be linked to violent behavior.

The authors – Solomon Hsiang of Princeton University, Marshall Burke and Edward Miguel, both of the University of California-Berkeley – conducted an analysis of more than 60 previous studies that covered the history of most regions of the world over the past 10,000 years.

The scientists found looking at crime statistics in the United States that the number of rapes, murders, or assaults increases on a hot day and that civil conflicts in the tropics occurred at twice the frequency during the hot and dry years.

Previous Studies Examined Link
The analysis of the studies is not the first of its kind. In a February 2001 study, Craig Anderson of Iowa State University concluded: “A broad view of the research – triangulation – suggests that in many settings hot temperatures cause increases in aggression. There are conditions that limit the generality of this conclusion, but the overall pattern of data is impressive and convincing.”

Critics Say Link Is Tenuous, Argue For Further Study
Environmental scientist Andrew Solow of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution argues for further study before drawing any conclusions and says to draw a direct line between increasing temperatures and incidences of violence would be a mistake because the world actually has become less violent.

“It’s hard to see how the same causal mechanism that would lead to wild pitches would be linked to war and state collapse,” Idean Salehyan, who studies political violence at the University of North Texas in Denton, tells Nature magazine.











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