An article published in this week’s NY Times suggests that the Syrian conflict may have been aggravated by climate change. Syria has been plagued by drought which the article states is the “worst in the country in modern times,” caused by the way the region, known as the fertile crescent, has responded to a human-induced increase in greenhouse gas emissions. The greenhouse gases have caused a “weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation,” which has left the area with a shortage of water.
The article goes on to explain the proposed connection between the drought and Syria’s political and social turmoil by citing research that suggests “the drought ‘had a catalytic effect.’” The studies cited showed that “the extreme dryness, combined with other factors, including misguided agricultural and water-use policies of the Syrian government, caused crop failures that led to the migration of as many as 1.5 million people from rural to urban areas. This in turn added to social stresses that eventually resulted in the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.”
What does this mean for the political world? We can no longer ignore environmental concerns as secondary priorities to so-called more important political and foreign affairs issues! Our destruction of the environment is a significant contributor to the political conflicts of the world, and must be addressed for that as well as many other reasons!
This isn’t a new idea. The NY times article concludes by noting that “The United States military has described climate change as a ‘threat multiplier’ that may lead to greater instability in parts of the world.” If the men and women protecting arguably one of the world’s most stable political climates agree that the environment is a key issue in terms of maintaining political stability and security, then isn’t it time that we all follow suit?
The article link for those who are interested in reading more about this idea:
Written by Emily Wasserman.