Sampling bias might be distorting view of upheaval due to global warming

February 13, 2018 by Bob Yirka, Phys.org report
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

A small team of researchers from The University of Melbourne, the Georg Eckert Institute and Freie Universität has found problems with research related to assessing the propensity for war amid environmental changes due to global warming. In their paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, the group argues that much of current research on the topic suffers from several bias flaws. Cullen Hendrix with the University of Denver outlines the arguments by the research team in the same journal issue and suggests future research efforts will have to be refocused if they are to be useful in predicting future conflicts based on global warming projections.

As the planet heats up, some areas are going to become hotter and drier, and if that leads to a reduction in resources available to the people living in those areas, the result is likely to be bloodshed. Some people inside and out of the science community have even gone so far as to suggest that we have already seen examples—famine and war in Darfur, or on a larger scale, the ongoing Syrian civil war. But, the researchers with this effort point out, making predictions regarding future conflicts must be based on unbiased research efforts, something that has not been done very well so far.

The team combed through over 100 papers published from 1990 to 2017 meant to offer insights into the link between and warfare and report finding substantial bias. They found, for example, that much of the research was focused on headline-making conflicts rather than small-scale affairs. They also noted that most of the conflicts occurred in areas where people spoke English, making it easier for the researchers, but leaving out many areas that likely should have studied but did not. They also found that many of the studies focused on areas that were already experiencing , such as Syria and Sudan. But, perhaps most strikingly, they found that areas of study were often not even those that have been deemed more likely to be geographically impacted by a planet.

They conclude by suggesting biased research in such a context could lead to "reproduction of colonial stereotypes"—a reference to English-speaking countries that were once part of the British empire.

Explore further: Global warming poses substantial flood risk increase for Central and Western Europe

More information: Courtland Adams et al. Sampling bias in climate–conflict research, Nature Climate Change (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41558-018-0068-2

Abstract
Critics have argued that the evidence of an association between climate change and conflict is flawed because the research relies on a dependent variable sampling strategy. Similarly, it has been hypothesized that convenience of access biases the sample of cases studied (the 'streetlight effect'). This also gives rise to claims that the climate–conflict literature stigmatizes some places as being more 'naturally' violent. Yet there has been no proof of such sampling patterns. Here we test whether climate–conflict research is based on such a biased sample through a systematic review of the literature. We demonstrate that research on climate change and violent conflict suffers from a streetlight effect. Further, studies which focus on a small number of cases in particular are strongly informed by cases where there has been conflict, do not sample on the independent variables (climate impact or risk), and hence tend to find some association between these two variables. These biases mean that research on climate change and conflict primarily focuses on a few accessible regions, overstates the links between both phenomena and cannot explain peaceful outcomes from climate change. This could result in maladaptive responses in those places that are stigmatized as being inherently more prone to climate-induced violence.

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11 comments

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Turgent
1.5 / 5 (11) Feb 13, 2018
Hip, hip, hurrah. Here is a self-critique of the method by which GW effect is postulated. This lends more creditability to climate science research than the linear extrapolations of a poorly correlating data set to some 85 years into the future. This is what should be seen in scientific research. It is inherent to the human psyche to be bias to the goodness of one's own research and publications. Famine follows war much more than war follows famine. Syria was initially political conflict which morphed into sectarian conflict. Darfur was Islamic cleansing and Sudan was a civil war with some sectarian component.

For the ignorant and rabid thought police labeling anyone who doesn't right think, this is not a Denier comment. This is an observation by one who is looking for proper academic discourse. This adds more credibility to climate science than herd following.
snoosebaum
1.1 / 5 (9) Feb 13, 2018
i want to hear from the thought police on this one ! LOL

So the Bilderberg attack on Libya was caused by AGW , maybe Vietnam also .
TechnoCreed
5 / 5 (11) Feb 13, 2018
This adds more credibility to climate science than herd following

This is not a climatology paper it is a sociological study.
Zzzzzzzz
5 / 5 (5) Feb 13, 2018
Syria and Sudan are english speaking? Perhaps this new effort is the biased one.....
Turgent
1.4 / 5 (11) Feb 13, 2018
This adds more credibility to climate science than herd following

This is not a climatology paper it is a sociological study.


This is the title of this article and the paper "Sampling bias might be distorting view of upheaval due to global warming", published in the journal Nature Climate Change

Climate driven adverse social behavior is the subject. Isn't this the stuff usually the fodder of AGW alarmists and Climate Change porn?
tblakely1357
1.4 / 5 (9) Feb 13, 2018
These dudes are screwed. Good luck getting grants after deviating from the 'narrative'.
dustywells
not rated yet Feb 13, 2018
Indirectly supports the efforts and findings of Africa's ongoing "Great Green Wall" project.
TechnoCreed
4.6 / 5 (10) Feb 13, 2018
This is the title of this article and the paper "Sampling bias might be distorting view of upheaval due to global warming", published in the journal Nature Climate Change

Climate driven adverse social behavior is the subject. Isn't this the stuff usually the fodder of AGW alarmists and Climate Change porn?
No. The title that you are reffering to was written by Bob Yirka of Phys.org
This is the title of the paper that is published on Nature Climate Change: Sampling bias in climate–conflict research. https://www.natur...8-0068-2

As much as the porn part of your comment; I do not personally read all the articles and reports on climate... I am not obsessed about that. I just consider AGW a state of fact that will concern my children and grandchildren. Too bad for you if you get aggravated every time an article comes out with the word climate in it.

Turgent
4.4 / 5 (7) Feb 13, 2018
No. The title that you are reffering to was written by Bob Yirka of Phys.org
This is the title of the paper that is published on Nature Climate Change: Sampling bias in climate–conflict research. https://www.natur...8-0068-2

As much as the porn part of your comment; I do not personally read all the articles and reports on climate... I am not obsessed about that. I just consider AGW a state of fact that will concern my children and grandchildren. Too bad for you if you get aggravated every time an article comes out with the word climate in it.



I agree that the paper is "Sampling bias in climate–conflict research"
Courtland Adams, Tobias Ide, Jon Barnett & Adrien Detges. Further, on reading the abstract you have the proper take. My mistake to place all relance on Bob Yirka. Please excuse my error. Perhaps my bias effected my read. Thanks
.
milnik
1 / 5 (1) Feb 23, 2018
Global warming impacts on mutual political relations and conflicts in some countries !! The most influential factor in triggering conflicts and wars is the Latin proverb "WANT YOUR GOD!" Such a message and provocation of mischief comes from great powers, which could mean that they are the triggers of such a "global warming" and provoking wars. And those who talk about such a connection are from these powerful states. Since they do not know who provokes global warming, now it is necessary to make "human bunchers" to "explore the causes" of global warming.
If, indeed, we want to find out who is the culprit for this warming, we must naturally think. Global warming is a consequence of the mutual relations between the planets and the sun in our solar system. HOW? - READ AND GET ANSWER!
barakn
not rated yet Feb 25, 2018
What many here have not considered is that the sampling bias may undercount rather than overcount climate conflict.

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