A new study states that a prolonged drought in Syria, exacerbated by man-made climate change, played a crucial role in pushing the country towards a brutal, protracted civil war that has so far cost 200,000 lives.
The report which was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences states that man-made climate change helped set off a chain of events leading to the Syrian civil war.
The study proposes that droughts fuel up the factors of Civil war. It completely destroyed agricultural industry of the county and compelled farmers to migrate to cities. All these circumstances contributed to the already existed unrest.
“There are various things going on, but you’re talking about 1.5 million people migrating from the rural north to the cities. It was a contributing factor to the social unraveling that occurred that eventually led to the civil war,” said Richard Seager, a climate scientist from Columbia University, and the co-author the study.
For their study, the researchers studied temperature and precipitation trends since 1931 and climate models of greenhouse gas impacts. They found that the warming and drying the region has experienced since the mid-20th century fits well with the models of climate change. They calculated that global warming has raised the odds of a devastating drought in the region two- to three-fold over natural variation.
They found that climate change was one of the factors that triggered the civil war. They added that from 2007 to 2010, Syria was devastated by the worst drought in the country’s recorded history. Crops failed and livestock died, driving an estimated 1.5 million people from their homes.
The exodus of internally displaced people was a very large population shock for these urban areas in Syria that were on the margin of sustainability in their stress for food and water even before this occurred. The study adds that they were neglected by the government, and so these overcrowded settlements became breeding grounds of discontent that erupted in April of 2011.
“We’re not saying that global warming or climate change caused the uprising. What we are saying is that it basically exacerbated the drought that occurred, made it more severe — the most severe in the observed record. And that this set about a chain of events that ultimately led to the uprising,” added Colin Kelley, the lead author of the study.