Does Climate Change Mean More Witch Hunts?

Times columnist Nick Kristof recently highlighted economic research showing that climate change may be driving up the rate of executions of suspected witches in East Africa.

Tough times in the Congo may have been behind the recent witchcraft panic there, where police arrested 13 people accused of using black magic to shrink men’s penises.

University of Chicago economist Emily Oster also found a surge in witch hunts during Europe’s “little ice age,” from the 1500’s to late 1700’s.

Dubner and Levitt also wrote of some other surprising climate results over the ages, ranging from property crime, to life expectancy, to civil war.

What other unexpected consequences, whether economic, social, political, or otherwise, should we expect to see from climate change?

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  1. Sharper says:

    What should we expect to see?

    How about all sorts of ridiculous claims about things being caused by “Climate Change”? I’d anticipate a lot of that going around.

    At the point where anything that goes wrong anywhere in the world can be blamed with a straight face by the media on “Climate Change”, don’t you think the excuse has jumped the shark?

    Do you think that perhaps ongoing structural legal and instutitional problems in the Congo might be just a tad bit more responsible for their economic problems than minor weather changes?

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  2. Marcus Lynn says:

    Uh…climate change? It changes throughout the year. It’s called winter, spring, summer, and fall. And I think it’s been going on a lot longer than we’ve been alive.

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  3. mgroves says:

    Seems like these sort of things might just be very loose correlations or even coincidences.

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  4. C. Coop says:

    In the US it will become relatively more efficient to build combined cycle and combustion turbine power plants, which typically run only in summer months, compared to coal plants which run all year long. It will effect wind turbines as well, though I’m not sure in whether it will help or hurt.

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  5. mike says:

    During the 1500s to 1700s, one of the main accusations leveled at Witches was crop blight, so such charges would seem especially relevant now that there is looking to be a world-wide grain shortage.

    Jared Diamond’s book Collapse has a lot of looks at how nations under climate pressure simple come undone, with Rwanda being a modern case study. I would expect more serious and more bizarre stuff to become common-place.

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  6. the Gooch says:

    “Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!”
    “Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes…”
    “The dead rising from the grave!”
    “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

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  7. Optimist says:

    How about…

    1) Opening of the Northwest Passage
    2) Increased availablity of solar energy
    3) Shorter shorts & more scantily clad women
    4) Cheaper beach homes b/c there’ll be more usable beach property.

    Sounds like fun to me.

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  8. Robert L. says:

    The closer a society is to subsistence level, the more any kind of additional stress is going to impact it. What you will see in a poor society hit with problems is not a good indicator of what will happen in a rich society.

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