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Famines and Epidemics Trigger Wars (insidescience.org)
45 points by jelliclesfarm 10 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 56 comments





War causes famines. Ethiopia, for example. Certainly in the 20th century.

I can't read the paper, but the abstract says it's specifically about China in the years 1470-1911. Well, what on Earth could that say about our planet in the 21st century? One would think that studying famines and epidemics and wars of the 20th century would yield more statistics and lessons that would be a lot more relevant to the 21st century than any centuries previous to the 20th.

Given my knowledge of 20th century history, I'm quite ready to say that the title of this submission is simply backwards.

Moreover, the title of the submission does not match TFA's. And TFA's does not match the paper's (https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/095968361876154...). So I'm calling this click bait, and declaring it jumping to conclusions to the exclusion of general and widespread knowledge of 20th century history.


I think the point is to try to "prove" the opposite. Wars causing epidemics and famines is a well established fact and it's a "natural" part of mass scale conflict - men go to fight, men die, big swathes of land are damaged, foraging, etc. create conditions for famine, and meanwhile improper handling of the many dead coupled with the massive movements of people in closely cramped quarters ( be it armies moving, supplies, sieges, etc.) create conditions for epidemics. There's even cholera now in Ukraine due to the invasion.

So those two are nothing new. But the opposite, that unstable social conditions due to famine/epidemic causing social unrest causing war, is also interesting, has happened many times ( e.g. the 1848 revolutions in Europe, Arab Spring), and could be indicative of the future, as the article says - we're in for a lot of social unrest due to unstable social conditions due to climate change ( famines, epidemics, swathes of land becoming uninhabitable thus forcing migration, etc.).


Famines cause revolutions, for sure. Famines don't cause wars (except for revolutionary wars).

Otherwise the famines in Ukraine (30s), China (50s and 60s), Africa (80s), etc. might have caused wars, but they did not.

And it's been a while since we've seen famines even cause revolutions. Famously, of course, the French Revolution. Governments are very powerful now and can put down revolts before they gain steam. The Arab Spring revolts had external support. The wars in Libya and Syria were not caused by famine but by external powers getting involved in internal power struggles.

But if you insist, famines cause revolutions -> revolutions often fail -> failed revolutions often lead to wider war. Although the main example of this is... the French Revolution, 233 years ago. None of WWI, WWII, the Franco-Prussian war, the U.S. Civil War, the Crimean war, the Triple Alliance War, the Cold War, the Vietnam war, the Korean war, the Iraq wars, the wars in Afghanistan, the Ukraine war, etc., were caused by famine. Not one! That's going back to the 1850s (Crimean war). That's a list of rather salient wars. Got any counter-examples?


Ww2 had as one of its causes the hyperinflation, which was a result of the excessive payments for WW1 repairs, as required by mainly France.

While not a full blown famine, the German people had serious economic problems (and hunger as a consequence), and a clear enemy causing them. This caused resentment and a feeding ground for extremists like Hitler.


Not really. The hyperinflation ended well before Hitler's rise. And the German people almost certainly did not want war.

Cf Wikipedia: Hyperinflation was until 1923 and the following invasion of the Ruhr for non payment by France until 1925. This is the same year Hitler famous book was published. He was a well known if infamous politician by then, wikipedia gives him 6.5% of votes in 1924.

Things were better in Germany for a few years and Hitler might have vanished into the background, until 1929, when the US stock market crashed, taking with it core loans the German Weimar republic needed. This crashed the economy again, while they were still recovering from the previous crash.

The NSDAP party started its meteoric rise in this second crash, buth only because the suffering from the hyperinflation and the war before it had laid a solid base.


I think more generally it is a great example of this bias we have of taking high dimension, complex processes and reducing things to one or two variables.

"The stock market went down today because of X"

We can't help ourselves even when we know this is a complete nonsensical over simplification.

I can't imagine any war in the last 2-3k years only has two causal variables in reality.


The title needs to be fixed.

"Famines and Epidemics Trigger Wars" has a very different connotation to "How Famines and Epidemics Trigger Wars", and is already leading to fruitless argument by the people who only read the title.


I think HN auto-removes "how" from titles

Yeah. It’s a good rule for click bait headlines, but there are also plenty of examples in which the modifier provides clarity, such as this case.

Studying this topic is very interesting in a world where climate change threatens to make whole regions essentially uninhabitable. I think the conflicts caused by climate change will be a much bigger threat to humanity than climate change itself.

Environmental stressors also make it far easier for an unscrupulous party to create a casus belli, and you should absolutely expect to see that happen in the next few years.

I don't see these sorts of claims as falsifiable.

The civil war in Syria started with a famine, which is certainly evidence for the claim. Culture preserves adaptation strategies long after those ideas become maladaptive.

But nature is bad enough. As a climatologist, what keeps me up at night is Bangladesh. A couple meters of sea level rise, and a direct hit from a super typhoon, and we could easily see millions of refugees. And as India continues its tilt towards a Hindu state, conflict could also happen there.


History is not a field where it's easy to make falsifiable claims (until we invent time machines). But I don't think that completely prevents us from learning something from the past.

> History is not a field where it's easy to make falsifiable claims (until we invent time machines). But I don't think that completely prevents us from learning something from the past.

"History is written by historians." Frank Herbert


"History is written by historians." Frank Herbert

It'll be as falsifiable as many other questions that historians grapple with (e.g. did famine X lead to conflict/instability Y?), but only once the warming has happened and we're looking retrospectively. The best we can do now is an educated guess that large amounts warming will lead to migration away from hotter countries which will lead to some instability.

The concept is equivalent to "Bring a coat, it might rain" not "It's going to rain"

We apply a different standard here, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence".

Isn’t that true of almost every field that deals with humans?

Health - coffee/alcohol is good for you this week and bad for you next week

Sociology and Psychology - is anything in these fields truly falsifiable?

History - same


That coffee and alcohol thing only happens in certain tabloids and other trash media. Both have positive and negative effects on your health depending on how much you drink of it. Having a little is fine, drinking it 24/7 is not.

Question: Is evolution falsifiable?

Of course it is. What has that got to do with anything?

It was a rhetoric to “I don't see these sorts of claims as falsifiable.”

Creationists regularly posit that Evolution is not falsifiable. Popperian falsifiability is being abandoned these days and instead Neumann’s definition of Science and scientific theory is increasingly embraced.


The US DoD has already said similar.

It makes intuitive sense to me. When there is pandemic there is social isolation which leads to distrust between people. And there is shortage of things which causes looting and crime. And what is war but social unrest on a large scale?

That would make sense if the claim was that epidemic cause civil wars, but it doesn't quite explain, say, the Russian invasion of Ukraine -- which is also the only currently ongoing 'hot' war directly between two nation-states.

Pandemic causes also isolation between nations. And they say Putin has been isolated for a long time. When you are isolated you started distrusting other people, including those of other nations.

I have no data on this just saying it makes intuitive sense to me. When people interact they realize it is good to interact. When they don't it is easy to be afraid.


I can believe it. And I don't think it's just trust. Having positive interactions with other people goes beyond that. If you have a fun time in another country this will stick in your mind. You will remember all the friendly people and you will want good things to happen to them. (If you have a bad time I could totally see the opposite happening).

The four horsemen of the apocalypse are Epidemic, Famine, War, and Death. I presume the people who first came up with this list already recognized the relationship between them from personal experience.

famine is the least of America's concerns, so I guess this is good news

Because America is the only country that matters?

Huh. Because famine and war wouldn't cause disruption to any of our supply chains?

Nor would it results in millions of people walking north, which of course wouldn't be a problem, we'd welcome them with open arms, right?


And when you reason, how many steps of consequences do you consider?

Consider as a primary example the creations of famines to create emigration waves supposed to put pressure on intended recipient countries.


who is going to attack america, the Ocean?

[flagged]


>the food prices in Europe hit new highs in the coming fall

energy too - Russia uses the food for blackmail in the energy space too as it clearly communicated to the African countries where Europe was trying to get natural gas and oil to replace Russian ones that such help to Europe will be punished by blocking Russian (and Ukrainian to the extent that Russia controls it) food for those countries.


Who would you blame when Russia is dismantled by NATO? Climate change will still be here. The multitrillion war machine will still require sacrifices. "Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor" will be here too, etc.

Judging by HN submissions, China is the next on the chopping block. Who the propaganda is going to blame next


> I hope we do not forget that it is Russias fault when the food prices in Europe hit new highs in the coming fall

So you dont recognise the deceit with Nato govts as the trigger for Russia?

I dont blame Russia for standing up to Western passive aggression thats played out over decades across popular culture, media and govt policy. Its not like you get the truth from criminals running much of the world directly or indirectly through manipulation, blackmail and other disingenuous means.

There has to be one country which is the Emmanuel Goldstein of the world, its how the simple unthinking masses manage to comprehend world events.


What deceit did NATO governments that justifies, invading raping and systematically destroying a country?. Russias war of aggression falls firmly on the shoulders of only Russia.

We are lucky that Russia is so terrible at war, if they where any good they would of won by now.


Stop standing up for NATO govt' that brainwash their populations and steal their lives. Wake up!

If you wanna see some stolen lives you should really look at all the people from the economically repressed regions of Russia that make up the majority of the soldiers they are throwing in the Ukrainian meat grinder.

Russia cares little about its own people, and have had active intelligence campaigns to influence the Wests opinion on the war, luckily it’s not going very well.


Right. What propagandists often use is the logical fallacy called "Whataboutism". Russia invaded Ukraine but what about US invading Iraq, doesn't that show that Russia is no worse than US?

The fallacy in that argument is that Russia is doing its war-crimes right now at this moment. What US did in Iraq was far less bad, and most importantly whatever US did in Iraq they stopped doing. But Russia has not stopped bombing Ukraine. Therefore, at the current moment, we must condemn Russia for what it is doing now, not US for what it did long ago and stopped doing.

And even if it was true that US was and still is as bad as Russia then so what? That doesn't give Russia the license to do war-crimes. Two bads don't make it right. Hey, I may be bad, but what about Al Capone? He was much worse than I!


very few people blame Iraq for having been invaded by USA, it was a war of aggression and unfinished business

as is the case with ukraine, it is not ukraine or NATOs fault that cities are being leveled, Putin is in control of Russia's artillery, no one else


We did cause 1M deaths.... and our troops are still in Iraq.... you should be protesting Biden for maintaining the troops there still just as hard as Russia, and boycotting products sold by the US.

I think it’s important to draw a distinction here. Whilst America’s war of aggression was in no real way justifiable, Russia is on an entire another level. The Russians rape, loot and pillage with either impunity or active support from their military. We only recently got reports that they executed journalists when they entered certain cities earlier in the war, and have seen a number of cases of Ukrainian children being raped and killed by Russian soldiers.

True. Another logical fallacy propagandists use is "False Equivalency". Just because there might be some similarities between two cases does not mean they would be qualitatively equivalent in any sense. But some people will fall for that trick too, especially if they are so disposed.

You dont think NATO troops have done similar but its been covered up like the Chinese have covered up Tiananmen Square. We have some naive simpletons on HN!

I’m sure troops in every country have done reprehensible things, but as I said before the difference is that the Russian troops do this a lot and with the full support of there military and we have even seen there partners support there raping and looting in the past.

There’s no need to cover it up for the Russians cause it is fully supported.


FROM https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Withdrawal_of_United_States_tr.... :

"On 9 December, Iraq and the U.S.-led coalition announced that the coalition's combat mission had concluded, formally transitioning remaining U.S. forces in the country to an advisory, assistance, and training role."

Assuming the "We did cause 1M deaths" is true (do you have a link?) that is exactly the whataboutism I was talking about. If it is true, it still in no way justifies what Russia is doing in Ukraine.


Not him but from 2007: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2007/sep/16/iraq.iraqtimel...

This doesn't justify the mess in Ukraine tho and people really need to stop acting like it.


> We are lucky that Russia is so terrible at war, if they where any good they would of won by now.

I think that's pretty unlucky. The global economy will only get worse the more this war drags on.


Thats true, the world for the sake of the world economy should be doing as much as it possibly can to end this war as soon as possible in Ukraines favour.

Please stop unreflectively parroting Kremlin’s propaganda. Putin's Russia started a war of aggression against a sovereign nation -- that would be an heinous act EVEN IF there'd have been "Western passive aggression" prior to that. And for the record, there wasn't. Putin's speeches to justify Russia's war of aggression paint a clear picture: Putin is an old man who is dreaming of times that came and went, hoping to turn back the clock -- by any means necessary. NATO is a defensive alliance and Russia has no say in an independent nation's decision to join. Putin says that said defensive alliance threatened Russia but if you look how Russia's armed forces are concentrated in and around Ukraine while thereby leaving ~95% of Russia's territory exposed to possible attacks, you can easily tell that he does not expect NATO to attack -- he almost certainly never has.

Bestiality is not justified.

> I dont blame... for standing up

You have a very peculiar interpretation of 'standing up', which in your use stands for the exercise and expression of bestiality. Just look at facts directly.


Yeah, people know this for a long time, since the Book of Revelation.



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