By Ranjit Singh
august 30, 2021
Bloomberg’s anti-Bill of Rights publication The Trace recently ran an article speculating about a causal link between climate change and “gun” violence. The article, which is an interview of Rutgers University–Camden professor Daniel Semenza, checks every fashionable academic fad: climate change, “gun” violence, inequality, you name it.
Cited in the article and professor Semenza’s Twitter thread (Archive link) are a couple of academic papers that posit a link between climate change and violent crime based on speculative models. One cited paper establishes an incontrovertible connection between weather and crime in Chicago based on real data. However, the article as a whole takes a giant leap from crime data in a specific locale tied to weather to massive speculative claims on a causal link between climate change and “gun” violence. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof, something that’s missing in the article.
Gun violence tends to cluster in more disadvantaged areas where people are interacting, engaging, and getting into conflicts over smaller things, shows of disrespect, and interpersonal issues that happened with family and friends. When it’s hot outside, we’re more frustrated, and it’s easier to get angry. You throw a bunch of guns into the mix and you can see how violence can ensue.
Shootings spike in summer months, and that’s often because in the communities where gun violence is high, a lot of people don’t have air conditioning or they live in smaller homes where they’re not comfortable, so they go outside more.
Although this seems plausible, I cannot help but point out that the country I grew up in – India – is a mostly sweltering hot country with a population of 1.3 billion. I don’t recall people being nasty because of the weather. I grew up without air conditioning in summers that could get up to 120ºF; we couldn’t even run cheap ceiling fans to keep us cool because the power supply was so unreliable and spotty. (It was truly a democratic socialist wonderland.)
My story isn’t unique by any measure; hundreds of millions of people coped with the summer heat without killing one another over small insults. Indian food requires a lot of prep and women managed to cook for their families in front of a hot stove in a hot kitchen without turning knives into assault weapons. Granted India wasn’t violence-free despite its image in the West as the birthplace of Gandhian non-violent political struggle, the country was and is by and large good, and the people are decent despite the hot weather and endemic poverty.
So, what was different there? Maybe a culture that respects life? Or a family structure that’s largely intact despite horrible poverty? A respect for your elders? Religiosity? That’s for sociologists to study and figure out.
There are lots of tall claims about what climate change can cause, scary enough that it almost has the mythical stature of the Chupacabra. (Check out: “A complete list of things caused by global warming,” and “Wrong Again: 50 Years of Failed Eco-pocalyptic Predictions.”). One common claim is that impacts on food production will lead to violence, something that has failed the real world test. Another common claim is that climate change drives wars; that also lacks concrete proof. Climate alarmism goes back decades; read this article published June 29 1989, titled, “U.N. Predicts Disaster if Global Warming Not Checked,” and see how many of those claims have come to fruition. (While you’re at it, look at the current version of the article on The Associated Press website and notice how the headline and date of publication have been memory holed.)
Despite the provocative headline above, I don’t think climate change is something humanity should take lightly; I won’t get into that, but what I do take serious issue with is the exploitation of climate change alarmism to push every far-Left agenda item that many of us oppose: top-down economic planning and control, micromanaging the lives of the hoi polloi, controlling their food choices, transportation choices and lifestyle choices, while the elites shamelessly fly in on private jets to congregate on an island in the middle of a pandemic for an ex-President’s glitzy birthday party.
For a long time, we have seen the CDC camel trying to stick its nose under the Second Amendment tent using the ruse that “gun” violence is a public health issue. What’s next? The United States Geological Survey (USGS) mucking around with the Second Amendment using climate change as a pretext?