Peregrine, Peter Neal

Four hypotheses concerning the relationship between climate-related disasters and conflict are tested using archaeological data in a controlled cross-cultural comparison. The four hypotheses are (1) Conflict increases following climate-related disasters because local economic conditions deprive polities of tax revenue so that they can no longer suppress conflict; (2) Conflict increases following climate-related disasters because existing social inequalities lead to conflicts over differential access to resources; (3) Conflict increases following climate-related disasters because migration forces population into condensed settlements ripe for conflict; and (4) Conflict increases following climate-related disasters in polities where leaders tightly control access to political authority because leaders may use violence to maintain control over the resources they use to secure support from other elites. Only the fourth hypothesis is supported. It is argued that understanding pre-disaster political strategies is key to understanding post-disaster conflict.