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Tue Nov 11, 2014, 01:40 AM

Study ties conflict risk in sub-Saharan Africa to climate change, socioeconomics, geography

[font face=Serif][font size=5]Study ties conflict risk in sub-Saharan Africa to climate change, socioeconomics, geography[/font]

November 10, 2014

[font size=3]A massive new University of Colorado Boulder study indicates there is a statistical link between hotter temperatures generated by climate change and the risk of armed conflicts in sub-Saharan Africa.

CU-Boulder Professor John O’Loughlin led a research team that assessed more than 78,000 armed conflicts between 1980 and 2012 in the Sahel region of Africa – a semi-arid belt just south of the Saharan Desert that spans about 3,000 miles and more than a dozen countries from the Atlantic to the Indian oceans.

The team was looking for links between armed conflicts and temperature and rainfall anomalies, as well as assessing other causes of violence in the Sahel. “We found a clear signal that higher temperatures in the Sahel over time does increase the risk of conflict,” O’Loughlin said.

While there are growing academic and public policy debates on the effect global climate change may be having on armed conflict in Africa, the link between climate and conflict in the Sahel does not hold true for the entire continent, said O’Loughlin, a professor of distinction in CU-Boulder’s geography department. Even in the Sahel, political, economic and geographic factors were more of an influence on conflict than climate.


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