Global warming and the Civil War in Syria
Climate change is not just an environmental problem, but an amplifier of existing social, economic and political problems.
Of course, climate change has economic impacts, because money is needed in order to stop it, but most of the time money is spent on oil and coal rather than renewable energy. Through changes in weather patterns and increased risks of flooding and droughts, individuals are affected. This can be observed in Texas, but could also be observed in Syria before the outbreak of the civil war. So, how are these two issues connected?
“Variations in total water storage from normal, in millimeters, in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins, as measured by NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites, from January 2003 through December 2009.” Image credit: NASA/UC Irvine/NCAR
While social and economic problems already existed in Syria, these were amplified by global warming. The drought in Syria caused the crops and livestock of farmers to die, forcing them to find work elsewhere. This triggered demographic movement from rural to urban areas with farmers leaving their homes to find work in the city. The large amount of people that moved to the cities over the span of a few years led to overcrowding in the cities and to general social unrest. The people of Syria had little money, many lived in horrible conditions in the city and struggled to find work. These social problems ultimately led to protests in the cities, which then escalated into a civil war in 2011.
Unfortunately, the downward spiral didn’t stop there. With many middle eastern countries destabilized, ISIS gained power in these regions. This shows how much impact climate change can have around the world. Global warming is not simply an environmental issue, but an issue that spreads into all aspect of our lives – social, demographic, economic and political. Climate change is a real issue and it is dangerous. ISIS has now gained enough power to commit acts of terror all around the world because they first gained power in destabilized middle eastern countries that were affected by a harsh drought, that was killing their crops, forcing people to move to the cities and ultimately led to civil war. Climate change is not just an environmental issue and so we should not treat it like one.
-Lena, Planning Committee Member, MIS Youth Climate Summit