Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Climate change: The first climate war

One of the predictions about climate change is that climate change-induced drought and famine will lead to more wars. Sadly, it turns out that what is happening in Syria is one of those wars:

Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said Monday that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.

The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and in a study published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

The researchers said this trend matched computer simulations of how the region responds to increases in greenhouse-gas emissions, and appeared to be due to two factors: a weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation.


Dr. Kelley, who did the research while at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and is now at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said there was no apparent natural cause for the warming and drying trend, which developed over the last 100 years, when humans’ effect on climate has been greatest.

And ~200,000 people are now dead as a result.

Climate change isn't a distant, abstract issue. Its here, and its killing people in unexpected ways. Great chunks of the world - some of them nuclear-armed - are exposed to massively higher risks of drought and famine because of climate change. Which means massively higher risks of political destabilisation and armed conflict as well. Climate change is turning our world into a tinder-box. And because we have not yet cut our emissions of greenhouse gases, it is only going to get worse.