We have good reason to predict that a warming climate will produce more conflict and violence. A growing contingent of researchers has been examining the relationship in recent years, and they’ve found that hotter temperatures and reduced rainfall are linked to increases in conflict at all scales, from interpersonal violence to war.

Children are especially vulnerable to conflict, Richard Akresh writes. In addition to directly exposing children to violence and trauma, conflict can tear families apart, displace whole populations, interrupt schooling, cut off access to health care or food, and eliminate the jobs that families depend on for a living. Children caught in a war zone may suffer physical injuries, malnutrition, developmental delays, and psychological damage, with effects on their physical health, mental health, and education that can persist into adulthood and constrict their ability to make a living. Moreover, those effects can spill over to the next generation and beyond, damaging the affected countries’ ability to develop human capital.

The likelihood that rates of conflict will increase on a hotter planet, then, poses a serious threat to children’s wellbeing—especially in poorer countries, which already see the most wars and other conflicts. Unfortunately, Akresh writes, we still poorly understand the mechanisms that link climate to conflict, and we have almost no evidence to tell us which types of policies could best mitigate the effects of climate change-related violence on children.