Is there a direct link between climate change, Isis and the Syrian Civil War?
By Theresa Joy
Security and climate experts have made a direct link between the Syrian Civil War, ISIS recruitment and climate change – and it’s a blaring reason to move aggressively away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy. A major peer-reviewed study by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. stated that the 2007 to 2010 drought contributed to conflict in Syria causing widespread crop failure and mass migration of families to urban centers. The study stated that no natural causes are apparent for the drying and warming but are in fact consistent with model studies of the response to an increase in greenhouse gases.
“One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis that created the symptoms — or rather, the conditions — of extreme poverty that has led now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence,” said Martin O’Malley former Governor of Maryland.
A 2014 Department of Defense report identified climate change as the root of government instability that leads to widespread migration, damages infrastructure and results in the spread of disease. “These gaps in governance create an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that further terrorism.”
The Syrian Civil War helped drive the rise of Isis. This war was triggered in large part by what experts have called, “The worst long term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the fertile crescent.”
According to The United Nations, 800,000 people’s livelihoods were destroyed by the drought. The poor and displaced fled to cities,” where poverty, government and miss management and other factors created unrest and exploded in the spring of 2011” (USBC).
They call them “drought refugees”. They are mostly Muslim displaced farmers and their families who have migrated inland, desperately in search of jobs and food. Being put in vulnerable positions, many have joined ISIS simply to survive.
Retired Navy Rear Admiral David Titley, who initiated and led the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change when he was at the Pentagon said “you can draw a very credible climate connection to this disaster we call ISIS right now”.
This will continue in the future if we do not take action now. For the large parts of the unstable region around Syria, including Lebanon, Israel, Jordan parts of Turkey and Iraq – multi-year droughts will become the norm in the coming decades if we don’t reverse carbon pollution trends immediately.
Climate science says dry areas will get dryer and wet areas wetter, Migration will continue inland. Wars will continue to erupt over land, food & natural resources like water. This will ultimately lead to the continued growth of ISIS and war.
“If we are going to see an increase in drought, in flooding, and extreme weather disturbances as a result of climate change, people all over the world are going to be fighting over limited natural resources. The scientific community is telling us if we do not address the global crisis of climate change, transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to sustainable energy, the planet that we’re going to be leaving our kids and our grandchildren may well not be habitable,” said Sen Bernie Sanders.
A recent study by the UN shows that the renewable energy industry will provide three times more jobs than the fossil fuel industry, most of which are higher quality and higher paid. Renewable energy does not lend to global warming. Renewable energy does not pollute water, air or pose a threat to the health of American citizens. One more reason to move aggressively towards renewable energy and away from fossil fuel.