Monday, September 09, 2013

Warming-Fueled Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War


Warming-worsened drought is causing problems all around the Mediterranean, especially Syria:

[see link above for map of warming.]

With our country facing tough choices about Syria, Moyers & Company’s John Light had a great piece on Friday: “Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War — Is it One of Many Climate Wars to Come?” He interviewed one of our favorites, Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, which has an advisory board of retired military commanders and foreign-policy experts.

Back in March 2012, Climate Progress ran a piece co-authored by Femia, in which he explained, “Syria’s current social unrest is, in the most direct sense, a reaction to a brutal and out-of-touch regime and a response to the political wave of change that began in Tunisia early last year. However, that’s not the whole story.”

It’s now increasingly clear that the climate models that had been predicting the countries surrounding the Mediterranean would start to dry out were correct (see “NOAA: Human-Caused Climate Change Already a Major Factor in More Frequent Mediterranean Droughts,” the source of the figure at the top).

In his interview with Light, Femia explains the role of drought in the conflict:

From 2006 to 2011, 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced, in the words of one expert, the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago. That, on top of natural resource mismanagement by the Assad regime — subsidizing water-intensive wheat and cotton farming and unsustainable irrigation techniques — led to a large amount of devastation.


The fact that the 2011 NOAA analysis confirmed the climate models’ predictions of drying is especially worrisome because the climate models project a very dry future for large parts of the planet’s currently habited and arable land in the coming decades


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