Of course climate change caused the conflict…….
Secretary of State John Kerry said Saturday that climate change was a contributing factor in the Syrian civil war, alluding to a study last spring that linked drought-driven urbanization to the conflict that began in 2011.
“It is not a coincidence that immediately prior to the civil war in Syria, the country experienced the worst drought on record,” he said in a speech at the Milan Expo 2015 in Italy.
“As many as 1.5 million people migrated from Syria’s farms into Syria’s cities, and that intensified the political unrest that was beginning to brew,” he continued.
“Now, I’m not telling you that the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change. No, obviously, it wasn’t. It was caused by a brutal dictator who barrel-bombed, starved, tortured, and gassed his own people,” Kerry said.
“But the devastating drought clearly made a bad situation a lot worse.”
Unrest in Syria erupted in March 2011, when demonstrators, evidently inspired by protest movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen, began calling for political reforms, an end to five decades of emergency law, and freedom for political prisoners – at the time estimated to number around 4,000.
In the southern town of Dara’a, 60 miles from Damascus, security forces opened fire on protesters demanding reforms – and the release of more than a dozen school students arrested for writing anti-regime slogans on walls. Four people were killed.
Protests against the Assad regime quickly spread, and over the ensuing month more than 170 people were killed, the majority by live ammunition fired by security forces. By early August the death toll had reached 1,600.
The unrest degenerated into a full-blown civil war, complicated by the proliferation of extremist groups and foreign support for various parties in the conflict. The U.N. estimates that more than 250,000 Syrians have died, and millions have sought refuge in neighboring countries while others seek new lives in Europe.
The notion of climate change as a factor in the conflict began making headlines last March, when a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences highlighted a severe drought in Syria and surrounding parts of the Middle East in 2007-2010 that triggered a mass migration from farms to urban centers.