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The violence is heating up

Climate crisis experts estimate: global warming will lead to an increase in violent crime rates in the world

The climate crisis will lead to increased violence. Illustration:
The climate crisis will lead to increased violence. Illustration:

A new and first study of its kind based on data from India, led by Dr. Ram Fishman from the Department of Public Policy at the Gershon Gordon Faculty of Social Sciences, together with his colleagues from leading universities in India and Abu Dhabi, raises serious concerns that global warming and the climate crisis may cause a sharp increase in the rates of violence in the world. The findings of the study show that crime rates will increase in direct proportion to global warming, and that for every degree of increase above the average for that day, an increase of approximately one percent was recorded in the rate of violent crime.

The forecast: hot and violent

As part of the study, which was carried out for the first time in a developing country, the researchers were given access to detailed data on the date and place of occurrence of every crime that occurred during six years in the Indian country of 70 million people, and to daily weather data. This is Big Data, which allows the use of advanced statistical analysis methods to isolate the connection between the weather and crime more precisely than was previously possible.

According to Dr. Fishman, the analysis proved that on warmer days there is a sharp increase in the rates of violent crime and therefore according to him, following these findings there is a serious concern that global warming may also have a strong effect on the rates of violence in the world. The study was published in the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.

A warning sign for humanity

"In the study, we proved unequivocally that changes in the weather have a significant effect on the incidence of many types of crimes, including violent crimes, crimes against women that include rape and harassment, harm to ethnic minorities and political and inter-religious violence. We showed that every increase of one degree in temperature above the average for that day, causally caused an increase of about one percent in the rate of violent crime", says Dr. Fishman.

"In addition to this, for the first time we were able to differentiate between two different mechanisms and prove that both affect the phenomenon: an immediate mechanism, probably physiological, that causes more violent behavior when it's hot and leads to an increase in crime rates on the same day when there is heat stress, and this is something that is also known in rich countries. A slower mechanism works alongside it, which causes property crimes (robbery, etc.) to increase after the weather of an entire season causes a decrease in crops. These two push people to crime."

"Our research is another bright warning sign, to everyone who still needed it, regarding the devastating and alarming consequences of the climate crisis," says Dr. Fishman and concludes: "These consequences are not future, they are already here with us and are gnawing at the very essence of social and human existence. Results from parallel studies in many countries already show similar results, and the analysis we performed for India can be copied, subject to necessary adjustments, of course, to different countries, including the State of Israel. I will be surprised if the results will be substantially different."

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