Climate Change Is Sending Us Troppo.

Our nature is to destroy things, and we have done a brilliant job of it so far.

climate change and conflict


I recently heard a discussion on the radio that really made me sit up and listen.    The discussion was around the influence of climate change on social behaviour.  In particular the contribution of climate change on social conflict, and why we all seem to be going troppo.

I thought it would be an interesting topic to discuss with you.



I can’t recall the person who was being interviewed.  However, I do recall that he has been studying environmental change and the effects on human behaviour for about 10 years.

The interview came on the back of Sir Prince Charles’ recent comments on the Syrian conflict and how now, as a result of someone with such a high profile raising the topic, it has hit mainstream discussion.

I have had similar thoughts on this concept, going back 20 years or more, from my time living in the Pilbara region and the Northern Territory.



You see, up north there is an expression,  we refer to the wet season as the “troppo season”  because people go crazy.

The humidity and heat is inescapable and it can send you round the twist.

People get into more fights and are generally more aggressive during this period of time.  Partly due to the extra consumption of beer as a refreshment.  But mostly because the monsoon season weather patterns are relentless.

Now, if you were to factor into this equation desperate living conditions such as drought, famine and 2000 year old conflict, you could imagine why some if not many people would ‘lose their shit’.



Of course you can argue that it is the human behaviours that have led conflict ridden countries down the dark and destructive road they find themselves stuck on.

Our rapid climatic changes are just a reflection of our behaviours.

So, it is no wonder we find ourselves in this predicament of food shortages, dwindling rainfall and subsequent fresh water scarcity, in so many regions.


Our need to control everything around us has led us to a point where we can no longer sustain our species.  We have an alarming rate of extinctions across all species.  Why should we be any different.

That said, it is an interesting observation to note that the countries that have the least internal and international conflict are those that belong to regions of cooler climate.

It is as though the heat removes our ability for rational thought.

I know, that sounds very controversial and provocative.  I certainly do not mean to generalise by saying all people who live in hot climates are aggressive and want to be at war with everyone.

It is just an observation that the areas that do have conflict are areas that struggle with extreme arid environmental conditions.


Could there be some validity to this concept? Could our climatic proximity affect our behaviour?

Think about it.

When we get those really hot summer heat waves and all you want to do is hibernate inside, if you have to be out and about in it, it doesn’t take long to start to feel irritated and grumpy.

So, imagine that being the case all the time.

Then imagine your very existence being under threat through climate change and perpetual conflict all around you.

Do you think it could affect the way you perceived life?

Do you think it might alter your emotional state?

Could it make you so agitated that you wanted to take out your frustrations on someone else?

Would it drive you to war?

I can imagine that if I were in a similar situation I would be very stressed, and stress can lead to a variety of altered emotional & behavioural issues.



Can you imagine what it would be like to be in a constant state of flux?

To be uncertain of your food supply, to have to go to a well to pump up dirty water because your water supply has been blown up.

To feel in constant danger for your life.

I can barely begin to imagine.

This constant state of anxiety and fear has the inevitable consequences of an aggressive response.

There have been many studies conducted over the years on climate change and human behaviour but the general consensus is that ‘the jury is still out’.

So although many scholarly reports indicate a correlation, it is hard to quantify and therefore harder to make conclusive judgements.

But you know, it doesn’t take being a rocket scientist to see;


So I guess the questions remains:

  • Is it climate change or just climate that contributes to conflict.
  • Is climate change responsible for conflict or is conflict an inevitable process inherent to the human species and perhaps only exacerbated by climatic and geographic proximity rather than a product of climate change itself.

After all, many conflicts that rage across our planet have been going on in one way or another for thousands of years.  The climatic changes that Sir Prince Charles referred to are relatively recent in the comparison.
People have been striving to conquer each other since we we could stand on two feet.

I believe we will continue to do so.

It is our nature.


I’d love to hear what you think about this very interesting topic.  It certainly is not without merit.

Until next time

Stay safe.
Robyn Williams