December 10, 2015 | Graham

There is a correlation between CO2 and world security

Prince Charles and Bernie Sanders are on to something. There does appear to be a correlation between carbon dioxide emissions and world security. It’s just that they are holding one graph the wrong way around.

This is a graph of CO2 emissions over the last 100 or so years.


And this is a graph of world battle deaths since 1947.World_SecurityIt is the 1940s when the IPCC says that CO2 first started to have an effect on world temperature, so 1947 is a pretty good year to start a comparison at, and you can see how CO2 emissions start powering away at that point.

Looking at the two graphs it is clear that there is some sort of correlation, and it is negative, rather than positive, because 1950 is a peak in battle deaths. It drops away to almost nothing today.

I’m not naive enough to confuse correlation and causation. To move from correlation to causation you have to have a mechanism, and in this case I think there is an obvious one.

That mechanism is that when people are more physically and mentally comfortable they are likely to fight less. A richer world is likely to be a more peaceful world.

CO2 makes the world richer because it is an output of generating almost all of the energy we consume, and it is enslaving the electron that has allowed us to be richer than our ancestors dreamed was possible, even for kings and queens.

Here is a graph of global per capita GDP. In this case there is a positive correlation between CO2 emissions and GDP. Now there’s a hockey stick you can love, and no sign of a Medieval Warming either.

World_Per_Capita_GDPSo, it may be counter-intuitive to those meeting in Paris, but it would seem that the solution to world peace, and world poverty, would appear to be more CO2, not less.

Perhaps others might like to add to the correlations by unearthing some graphs for me on some other indicators of progress, such as global life expectancy. I think Prince Charles and Bernie might be accidentally onto something here. Happy to add to their knowledge with further graphs on this site.