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El Nino Incites Wars And The Post Office Controls Temperature

This post shows the length to which some researchers go to get on the climate change bandwagon. It also shows that statistics can be invented and manipulated, and that correlation does not prove causation.

El Nino incites wars:

We have a paper titled: “Civil conflicts are associated with the global climate” published in Nature (Vol. 476, 25 August 2011). Full paper here.

In the paper, the three researchers use statistical methods to correlate civil wars in countries throughout the world with the El Nino (warm phase) of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO).

From their abstract:

Historians have argued that ENSO may have driven global patterns of civil conflict in the distant past, a hypothesis that we extend to the modern era and test quantitatively. Using data from 1950 to 2004, we show that the probability of new civil conflicts arising throughout the tropics doubles during El Nino years relative to La Nina years. This result, which indicates that ENSO may have had a role in 21% of all civil conflicts since 1950, is the first demonstration that the stability of modern societies relates strongly to the global climate.

Doesn’t that mean El Nino had no role in 79% of all civil conflicts? So what is the real purpose of this paper?   This study is purely a statistical manipulation which pays no attention to socioeconomic data in the countries studied.

The authors invent a statistic which they call the “annual conflict risk” (ACR). To calculate that statistic:

We examine the Onset and Duration of Intrastate Conflict data set 17,which codes a country as experiencing ‘conflict onset’ if more than 25 battle-related deaths occur in a new civil dispute between a government and another organized party over a stated political incompatibility. Following common practice, a dispute is new if it has been at least 2 years since that dispute was last active; however, individual countries may experience conflict onset in sequential years if the government has disputes with different opposition groups.

Here is their graph correlating ACR with El Nino:











Not a bad apparent correlation. But, is this correlation a reflection of cause and effect, data manipulation, or merely coincidence? The study period is relatively short. Would the relation hold over a longer period? You can read the paper and decide. Notice also, that many of the ACR highs appear to precede the El Nino highs – oops.

According to the paper, this study was partially funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, the Soros Foundation, and the Environmental Defense Fund, organizations not known for their scientific integrity.

The Post Office controls temperature:

To show that correlations can develop by chance, no matter how absurd the relationship, I present a graph showing the correlation of U.S. first-class postage rates versus temperature for the period 1880 to 2005:












The graph implies that there is a causal relationship. If so, then the Post Office has the solution to global warming: reduce first class postage cost back to 25 cents.

By massaging data and using statistics, you can find correlations (or anti-correlations if that is your goal) for almost anything.

For some real information on El Nino behavior versus climate models see here.

The Tucson Citizen, 26 August 2011