Climate change implicated in current Syrian conflict

Climate change implicated in current Syrian conflict

The drought that ravaged Syria from 2007 to 2010 was the worst in that nation’s recorded history, devastating agriculture in the region. Roughly 1.5 million people fled rural areas for urban outskirts where, in March 2011, social unrest boiled over into civil uprising.

Now, researchers say that global warming helped to cause that drought — and, by extension, helped to exacerbate the conflict, now a full-blown civil war, between armed insurgents and the government of Bashar al-Assad.

The study, published on 2 March in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, documents a century-long trend of increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall in the region. Because the observed trend could be reproduced only when climate models took manmade greenhouse-gas emissions into account, the study’s authors conclude that global warming helped to drive the recent drought.

Climate change was not the only factor at play in the conflict, says Colin Kelley, a climatologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who led the study. But, he says, “there’s strong evidence for global warming having an impact on this region, and that this most recent drought is due in part to this long-term trend.”

Source: Nature

Date: March 2015

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