Volume 476 Issue 7361, 25 August 2011

Historians and scientists have long theorized that the global climate and global patterns of violence might be connected, but this idea has never been directly tested with data. Now a new analysis examines whether civil conflicts might be linked to the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO), the dominant mode of interannual variability in the modern global climate. Using data on tropical countries collected between 1950 and 2004, the study finds that the probability of new civil conflicts breaking out in El Niño years is double that seen in cooler La Niña years. Overall, these findings suggest that the ENSO may have played a part in initiating 21% of all civil conflicts since 1950. This study represents the first demonstration that the stability of modern societies is associated with the global climate. The cover image shows the number of months per year, with blue equal to zero and red equal to twelve, that surface temperatures warm in response to El Niño. The warming of the tropics is caused by an atmospheric Kelvin wave generated in the Pacific Ocean and trapped near the Equator by Earth’s rotation. Cover image: Solomon M. Hsiang.

This Week

News In Focus

Comment

Careers

    Naturejobs

  • Career Brief |

    Women seem to form less robust professional networks, according to study.

  • Career Brief |

    Nobel laureates' post-Nobel-winning work earns no more acceptance than their earliest ideas.

  • Career Brief |

    Rise in industry collaborations with universities could lead to jobs for students and postdocs.

  • Column |

    In the search for a job, contacts matter. Peter J. Feibelman explains how to assemble a personal 'old boy' network while still a PhD student or postdoc.

    • Peter J. Feibelman
  • Futures

Research

    News & Views

  • News & Views |

    With fossil-fuel supplies set to dwindle, the race is on to find ways of making fuels from renewable sources of biomass. Two experts discuss the broad strategies — biochemical and thermochemical — that have emerged as practical approaches.

    • Stephen Mayfield
    •  & P. K. Wong
  • News & Views |

    Nanoscale devices have now been made that mimic biological connections in the brain by responding to the relative timing of signals. This achievement might lead to the construction of artificial neural networks for computing applications.

    • Dmitri B. Strukov
  • News & Views |

    Most galaxies harbour giant black holes; some are 'silent' whereas others produce copious amounts of radiation. The awakening of a silent monster has just been witnessed as it breaks apart and swallows a nearby star. See Letters p.421 & p.425

    • Davide Lazzati
  • News & Views |

    The idea that climate influences the onset of wars is enticing, but controversial. A study now finds a convincing correlation between global climate and civil conflict in countries affected by the El Niño/Southern Oscillation. See Letter p.438

    • Andrew R. Solow
  • News & Views |

    Infection with a harmless bacterium makes the mosquitoes that transmit dengue virus resistant to viral infection. The resistant population can rapidly replace the natural, susceptible population. See Letters p.450 & p.454

    • Jason L. Rasgon
  • Articles

  • Letters

  • Letter |

    • D. N. Burrows
    • , J. A. Kennea
    • , G. Ghisellini
    • , V. Mangano
    • , B. Zhang
    • , K. L. Page
    • , M. Eracleous
    • , P. Romano
    • , T. Sakamoto
    • , A. D. Falcone
    • , J. P. Osborne
    • , S. Campana
    • , A. P. Beardmore
    • , A. A. Breeveld
    • , M. M. Chester
    • , R. Corbet
    • , S. Covino
    • , J. R. Cummings
    • , P. D'Avanzo
    • , V. D'Elia
    • , P. Esposito
    • , P. A. Evans
    • , D. Fugazza
    • , J. M. Gelbord
    • , K. Hiroi
    • , S. T. Holland
    • , K. Y. Huang
    • , M. Im
    • , G. Israel
    • , Y. Jeon
    • , Y.-B. Jeon
    • , H. D. Jun
    • , N. Kawai
    • , J. H. Kim
    • , H. A. Krimm
    • , F. E. Marshall
    • , P. Mészáros
    • , H. Negoro
    • , N. Omodei
    • , W.-K. Park
    • , J. S. Perkins
    • , M. Sugizaki
    • , H.-I. Sung
    • , G. Tagliaferri
    • , E. Troja
    • , Y. Ueda
    • , Y. Urata
    • , R. Usui
    • , L. A. Antonelli
    • , S. D. Barthelmy
    • , G. Cusumano
    • , P. Giommi
    • , A. Melandri
    • , M. Perri
    • , J. L. Racusin
    • , B. Sbarufatti
    • , M. H. Siegel
    •  & N. Gehrels
  • Letter |

    • B. A. Zauderer
    • , E. Berger
    • , A. M. Soderberg
    • , A. Loeb
    • , R. Narayan
    • , D. A. Frail
    • , G. R. Petitpas
    • , A. Brunthaler
    • , R. Chornock
    • , J. M. Carpenter
    • , G. G. Pooley
    • , K. Mooley
    • , S. R. Kulkarni
    • , R. Margutti
    • , D. B. Fox
    • , E. Nakar
    • , N. A. Patel
    • , N. H. Volgenau
    • , T. L. Culverhouse
    • , M. F. Bietenholz
    • , M. P. Rupen
    • , W. Max-Moerbeck
    • , A. C. S. Readhead
    • , J. Richards
    • , M. Shepherd
    • , S. Storm
    •  & C. L. H. Hull
  • Letter |

    • Jasper Kirkby
    • , Joachim Curtius
    • , João Almeida
    • , Eimear Dunne
    • , Jonathan Duplissy
    • , Sebastian Ehrhart
    • , Alessandro Franchin
    • , Stéphanie Gagné
    • , Luisa Ickes
    • , Andreas Kürten
    • , Agnieszka Kupc
    • , Axel Metzger
    • , Francesco Riccobono
    • , Linda Rondo
    • , Siegfried Schobesberger
    • , Georgios Tsagkogeorgas
    • , Daniela Wimmer
    • , Antonio Amorim
    • , Federico Bianchi
    • , Martin Breitenlechner
    • , André David
    • , Josef Dommen
    • , Andrew Downard
    • , Mikael Ehn
    • , Richard C. Flagan
    • , Stefan Haider
    • , Armin Hansel
    • , Daniel Hauser
    • , Werner Jud
    • , Heikki Junninen
    • , Fabian Kreissl
    • , Alexander Kvashin
    • , Ari Laaksonen
    • , Katrianne Lehtipalo
    • , Jorge Lima
    • , Edward R. Lovejoy
    • , Vladimir Makhmutov
    • , Serge Mathot
    • , Jyri Mikkilä
    • , Pierre Minginette
    • , Sandra Mogo
    • , Tuomo Nieminen
    • , Antti Onnela
    • , Paulo Pereira
    • , Tuukka Petäjä
    • , Ralf Schnitzhofer
    • , John H. Seinfeld
    • , Mikko Sipilä
    • , Yuri Stozhkov
    • , Frank Stratmann
    • , Antonio Tomé
    • , Joonas Vanhanen
    • , Yrjo Viisanen
    • , Aron Vrtala
    • , Paul E. Wagner
    • , Hansueli Walther
    • , Ernest Weingartner
    • , Heike Wex
    • , Paul M. Winkler
    • , Kenneth S. Carslaw
    • , Douglas R. Worsnop
    • , Urs Baltensperger
    •  & Markku Kulmala
  • Letter |

    • Vlad C. Seitan
    • , Bingtao Hao
    • , Kikuë Tachibana-Konwalski
    • , Thais Lavagnolli
    • , Hegias Mira-Bontenbal
    • , Karen E. Brown
    • , Grace Teng
    • , Tom Carroll
    • , Anna Terry
    • , Katie Horan
    • , Hendrik Marks
    • , David J. Adams
    • , David G. Schatz
    • , Luis Aragon
    • , Amanda G. Fisher
    • , Michael S. Krangel
    • , Kim Nasmyth
    •  & Matthias Merkenschlager
  • Letter |

    • Tsuyoshi Furumoto
    • , Teppei Yamaguchi
    • , Yumiko Ohshima-Ichie
    • , Masayoshi Nakamura
    • , Yoshiko Tsuchida-Iwata
    • , Masaki Shimamura
    • , Junichi Ohnishi
    • , Shingo Hata
    • , Udo Gowik
    • , Peter Westhoff
    • , Andrea Bräutigam
    • , Andreas P. M. Weber
    •  & Katsura Izui

Corrections

Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing