Erik Gartzke, Tobias Böhmelt
August 22, 2015
Researchers have increasingly sought to identify the social repercussions of an evolving climate. Several influential studies claim that climate change is responsible for increases in conflict, while other research finds no such evidence. Relating human-caused changes in the climate to conflict poses a basic endogeneity problem, though: accepting that industrial activity is responsible for altering the climate implies that human agency is indirectly involved in the impact of the climate on conflict. Specifically, industrial activity is closely tied to climate change and to rising economic development, the latter generally being accepted as a determinant of reductions in conflict. In this letter, we discuss this endogeneity problem, outline possible shortcomings for empirical research if this problem is not addressed, and propose a research strategy that might eventually help to overcome it effectively.