Secretary of State John Kerry told an audience at the Milan Expo that while climate change didn’t cause the Syrian civil war, the drought associated with it aggravated the circumstances.
“Make no mistake: The implications here extend well beyond hunger,” Kerry said, according to an Associated Press report. “This isn’t only about global food security; it’s about global security — period.”
Violence in Syria under the regime of President Bashar Assad has resulted in the mass migration of millions of immigrants into Europe, straining resources there. Kerry said that the already-bad situation under the regime was worsened by climate change and the resulting drought and food shortage.
“I’m not suggesting the crisis in Syria was caused by climate change — obviously, it wasn’t,” Kerry said in the speech. “It was caused by a brutal dictator who barrel-bombed, starved, tortured and gassed his own people. But the devastating drought clearly made a bad situation a lot worse.”
Kerry urged countries around the world to work together to solve climate change, saying that if it is not a global effort, the current refugee crisis will look good compared to future mass migrations.
“Unless the world meets the urgency of this moment, the horrific refugee situation we’re facing today will pale in comparison to the mass migrations that intense droughts, sea-level rise, and other impacts of climate change are likely to bring about,” he said.
In last week’s Democratic presidential debate, two candidates — Martin O’Malley and Sen. Bernie Sanders — named climate change as the top national security threat facing the United States.
One thing you have to admire about the global warming crowd is their uncanny ability to switch gears and come up with another cockamamie connection to climate change when their current talking points have failed. They’ve pretty much given up on trying to scare us into adopting their agenda by painting apocalyptic visions of coastal cities under 20 feet of water and roast human on the barbie 100 years from now.
But global warming as a “national security” issue is particularly brazen, especially since there’s no way we can send the Marines to fight it, the Air Force to bomb it, the Army to steamroller it, or the Navy to pulverize it. It’s the perfect nonsensical, impossible to prove talking point that I suppose is designed to appeal to conservatives of some stripes, although nobody believes them anyway.
Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels had a nice rebuttal to this idiocy:
Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria?
Based only on the mainstream press headlines, you almost certainly would think so.
Reading further into the articles where the case is laid out, a few caveats appear, but the chain of events seems strong.
The mechanism? An extreme drought in the Fertile Crescent region—one that a new study finds was made worse by human greenhouse gas emissions—added a spark to the tinderbox of tensions that had been amassing in Syria for a number of years under the Assad regime (including poor water management policies).
It is not until you dig pretty deep into the technical scientific literature, that you find out that the anthropogenic climate change impact on drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent is extremely minimal and tenuous—so much so that it is debatable as to whether it is detectable at all.
This is not to say that a strong and prolonged drought didn’t play some role in the Syria’s pre-war unrest—perhaps it did, perhaps it didn’t (a debate we leave up to folks much more qualified than we are on the topic)—but that the human-influenced climate change impact on the drought conditions was almost certainly too small to have mattered.
In other words, the violence would almost certainly have occurred anyway.
Sociologists will point to several factors that contributed to the violence in Syria, including a rapid migration of people from rural to urban centers, the rising cost of food due not only to drought, but the developed world using food to make automobile fuel, and external forces in the Middle East such as the so-called “Arab Spring” and the growth of religious fundamentalism.
All of these things aggravated the violence in Syria far more than climate change. For that to be true, you would have to prove that the drought was triggered by climate change and was not one of the naturally occurring events that happen over the millennia.
Let Kerry have his bogus talking points. No one believes him anyway.