Climate change-fueled droughts are about to make Syria even more hellish

Brian Merchant writes: In a 2011 study, scientists at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined that climate change was at least partly responsible for the more frequent droughts withering the Mediterranean region. Both veteran foreign policy analysts and climate experts have blamed a particularly debilitating spate of those droughts for setting the stage for the violent conflict that would unfold in Syria. Climate change, it can be said, warmed Syria up for war.

“The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone,” Martin Hoerling, Ph.D. of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory, said in October of the same year that unrest broke out in the Middle East. Now, the drought is on the verge of returning en force, and it could exacerbate the already considerable suffering of the refugees, victims, and citizens caught in the crossfire of the interminable conflict.

“A drought could put the lives of millions more people at risk,” Elisabeth Byrs, a spokeswoman for the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP), said at a Tuesday briefing on a new report that outlines the incoming threat. [Continue reading…]

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