Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | January 17, 2012

From the archives – Weather spurs civil wars: El Niño and La Niña in Colombia

A study by Columbia University’s Earth Institute concluded that when the long droughts and scorching heats of el Niño occur, civil wars strive in 90 tropical countries. Overall, the team calculated that el Niño may have played a role in 21 percent of civil wars worldwide.

Solomon M. Hsiang, the study’s lead author, said, “if you have social inequality, people are poor, and there are underlying tensions, it seems possible that climate can deliver the knockout punch.” Crops fail. People take up guns to survive.

Read the full report here.

The torrential rains of la Niña tend to be followed by the droughts of el Niño.

Colombia was already hit by la Niña. At the end of 2011, the residents of Bosa and Kennedy in Bogotá awoke swimming in the rising waters from the sewers, their homes swallowed by the rising tide of the Rio de Bogotá. Landslides closed major roads into the city. The devastation was felt through the country.

Should we be expecting the droughts of el Niño?


  1. Predictions in January for periods after April of any year are notoriously tough, but for now, the probabilities are miniscule.

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