Climate Change Breeds Violence?

When he took his seats on the boards of the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Jeff Bartel probably didn’t suspect that his roles with those organizations would contribute to a reduction in global violence. But as it turns out, their positive environmental impact might do just that.

For years, the concern with global warming was its impact on the environment. Beach erosion, loss of wildlife habitat, and degradation of agricultural conditions topped the list when scientists reviewed the impacts of melting polar ice caps and the greenhouse effect.But more recent research is showing a shocking effect from climate change:  An increase in violence.

The information states that, historically speaking, great civilizations began to erode into more violent lifestyles at a time when meteorological activity led to an increase in temperatures.The logic is fairly simple. If you are confined in a space with other people and the temperature begins to rise, you become irritable and far less tolerant of annoyance.

Now imagine that response among billions of people, and imagine that there is no way to exit the room or lower the temperature.

What’s most disturbing about the research is that the historic evidence centers around passing events, such as seasons where North America is influenced by the El Nino current. That is troublesome enough, but when the change in behavior is caused by something that won’t go away–that is, a permanent increase in temperatures–it is potentially devastating, and it creates a new urgency to find global warming solutions that we can sustain.

Fortunately, many prominent Americans were attacking the issue of climate change long before this latest revelation.

People like Jeff Bartel are putting their time and effort into strengthening the environment, and they’re doing their best to head off a global trend toward violence and war.

“The connection between global warming and violence is unsettling, to say the least,” says Jeff Bartel. “But even if it doesn’t exist, I still feel strongly about how the botanical gardens are positively affecting the global environment.”

Mr. Bartel understand that botanical gardens do more than provide a calming, beautiful place to visit. They also play a role in educating–both actively and passively–to make sure that adults and children alike see the importance of maintaining a healthy biodiversity.

“Bulldozed rain forests half a world away don’t come home to Americans,” he said. “The botanical gardens give citizens just a glimpse of the amazing array of plant life that is at risk from our reckless behaviors, and we hope that helps give them some perspective on the worldwide impact of our green areas.”

The traditional environmentalist, even dating back to the 1960’s, had eyes on the prize of ending pollution for the sake of a clean place to live for humans, and of a cleaner planet as a goal unto itself. But this new research is showing that there may be even more at stake than we realized.

In a world full of contested borders, religious clashes, and ideological conflicts, it could become even more destructive if pollution serves to escalate our inability to coexist. Fortunately, from the global level right down to the local, people of conscience and dedication are working to avoid this human tragedy.

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