Are we headed towards another world war or is a ‘long peace’ in our future? A new study has examined decades of conflicts to evaluate the likelihood of another global war.
It has been over 70 years since last major world war. Despite the multiple conflicts ongoing across the globe, there hasn’t been a large, global conflict in decades. Analysts are divided about whether this means we’ve surpassed such levels of conflict, or whether our era’s relative lull means disaster is looming.
University of Colorado computer scientist Aaron Clauset undertook a study to find out. He used data from the Correlates of War Project to map patterns, trends and the likelihood of another major war breaking out.
The Correlates of War Project is a database of war, which includes dates and battle deaths of wars since 1823. Clauset examined data from 95 interstate conflicts from then up to 2003. The data doesn’t include civil wars or terrorist actions, and its 2003 cutoff leaves out the Iraq war, and conflicts like those in Syria and Yemen, technically described as civil wars, are not included.
He looked at the state of the world before, during and after a substantial conflict, to see if at any other time society went decades without a major war.
His research found that a period of decades without a large war, dubbed a “long peace,” isn’t such a rare event, and that it can easily change. According to Clauset, “the long peace pattern would need to endure for at least another 100 to 150 years before it could plausibly be called a genuine trend.”
“These models indicate that both the long peace and the period of great violence that preceded it are not statistically uncommon patterns in realistic but stationary conflict time series,” the study found.
“The historical patterns of war thus seem to imply that the long peace may be substantially more fragile than proponents believe, despite recent efforts to identify mechanisms that reduce the likelihood of interstate wars.”
“These results imply that the current peace may be substantially more fragile than proponents believe.” Clauset said.
“The so-called ‘long peace’ trend might not be that long, and it might not be a trend,” anthropologist Rahul Oka, who was involved in the research, told Science Mag. “This is a great first step for this line of research.”
Clauset also used his computer model to predict when humanity’s demise may occur. He estimated that it could be anytime between 383 to 11,489 years from now, Futurism reports.