War and Climate Change… Not two topics you’d expect to hear in the same sentence? Nope? Well, it’s widely feared that Climate Change could be a future cause of conflict throughout the world especially in areas susceptible to drought and climate related issues. In this entry I will use Syria as an example to illustrate how Climate Change will and already is causing conflict.
More than 250,000 Syrians have been lost their lives, cities destroyed and the emergence of the European migrant crisis has arisen out of this civil war with over 11 million forced from their homes and 5 million having left the country (BBC). With a simple look at the situation it appears that it’s a standard case of an uprising against the government. It is, but there’s more to it and some very surprising causes or antagonists. In very simple terms the Syrian Civil war is a conflict between the government (Assad family) and the rebels. Unlike Sadam Hussain, Bin Laden and other leaders of a similar ilk; the Assad family are not extreme/religious extremists but rather Alawites, a non-hard line branch of Islam.
Throughout history, water has been a resource much sought after and inevitably fought over. This is especially relevant in the Middle East where water scarcity has long been an issue (P.Gleick) . Prior to the Civil War, Syria experienced a severe drought for five to six years (Guardian), this was undeniably worsened by the effects of climate change, with
increased temperatures. This in turn results in a bad crop yield, which puts farmer’s livelihoods at risk. With no food nor money from their crops they are forced to look to alternatives, which often involves relocating to a city in search of work/opportunities. In an article by National Geographic a report was quoted as saying that as many as 1.5 million people moved from rural areas to the cities (Nat. Geo). Whilst this was a necessity for the farmers and rural people, it was a disaster for the cities, becoming overpopulated and unsustainable; especially taking into account the mass immigration Syria had already experienced due to the Iraq war.
Whilst overcrowding is a problem in itself, (causing public disharmony and all the associated problems, such as disease) the poor crop yield and death of livestock added to the problem resulting in increased food prices with less food to go around. This therefore acts as a catalyst and public discontent rises. Hence the uprising.
All of these ailments from overcrowding to inflation were hugely influenced by Climate Change and the associated higher temperatures. The Syrian Civil War came out of this and I fear it’s not the last. With the increased release of greenhouse gases and the reluctance to change our ways, this could become a trend we see on the rise throughout the world.
(Title Image from The Independent )
(In text image from MintPressNews)