Ever since the Second World War ended, humanity has seen a 73-year-long period of tranquility with less bloodshed and a few wars. The peace currently exists, but how long can we expect it to last?
The answer to this question depends on a number of interstate events, particularly the most recent ones. However, if we take a close look at the frequency and severity of wars over the last two centuries, we might just have a century or a little more to take necessary steps to prevent another big conflict from breaking out.
The proposition comes from a computer scientist who analysed the number of wars and deaths between 1823 and 2003 from The Correlates of War Project, an online repository of war-related datasets.
Aaron Clauset from the University of Colorado looked at as many as 95 interstate conflicts for the period, a number that suggests a war broke out every two years on an average. However, the data becomes clearer if we divide the timeline into three parts.
Between 1823 and 1914, humanity witnessed 19 major conflicts. This meant a war broke out every six years including the Crimean War and the Boer War, according to a report in the Daily Mail.
But that was just a start. Things got worse over the next 30 years when the world saw 10 major global conflicts including World War I and the World War II. Millions of people died and the average fell down to a single war every three years.
The so-called period of "great violence" ended in 1945 and since then, it has mainly been peace, with governments focusing more on democracy, interstate dependence, and trying to mitigate the risk of mutual nuclear annihilation. From a statistical perspective, the consistent peace has balanced the effect of the 30-year period of record bloodshed.
Clauset's analysis revealed that a war as deadly as the World War II breaks on average in 205 years, which statistically means we have some 100 years before we find out whether this period of "long peace" is actually a result of human cooperation and will hold in the future or not.
"The risk of a large war in the future may thus be higher than currently believed, and it's crucial that we continue to promote peace and mitigate conflict in the future," Clauset told Daily Mail while stressing on the value of the current time period. However, it is worth noting that a number of rapidly-changing geopolitical factors, which cannot be predicted and have not been considered in this study, will also play a role in defining how future events pan out.
Clauset's work on the data has been published in the journal Science Advances.