Sam Judd: Was the Syrian war caused by drought?

Save
A Free Syrian Army fighter of Fursan al-Haq brigade holds his weapon, in Azzan village, in the countryside of Aleppo province, Syria. Image / Fursan al-haq Rebel Brigade via AP

By Sam Judd

As the world reels from the atrocities being carried out by IS supporters, I feel that far too much time is spent on trying to fight an unbeatable enemy, rather than take action on the root causes of the crises.

While it may be understandable that the French want justice to be served for the horrific terrorist attacks, will dropping more bombs in Syria actually reduce the risk of terrorism?

At the same time, the United States' lobbyist-infiltrated foreign policy dishes out over $US3 billion of military support to Israel each year. This money directly supports the (United Nations-defined) illegal occupation of Arab lands in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Golan Heights and the Gaza Strip.

While I don't condone terrorism, if you still can't see why this would be a reason for some to turn to terrorism, then read this letter from Osama Bin Laden, which explains it explicitly.

Now just imagine for a minute, if just some of the vast sums of money that have been spent on the Syrian conflict, war against IS and gifts to the already highly-developed state of Israel was pledged to fix environmental problems in the area?

An Iraqi friend of mine who fled the country to settle here (much to our gain I might add) told me once that he wished there was no oil in his country as before it was exploited, it was a wonderful and peaceful place.

Before the Syrian conflict, the country suffered a severe drought. Resulting crop failures sent over 1.5 million people into urban centres that contributed to the destabilisation of the country and devastating civil war. Research has now drawn very strong links to show that this drought was caused by human-induced climate change.

Continued below.

Related Content

Can the 4.2 million+ people who have registered with the United Nations to escape the Syrian conflict be called 'climate refugees'?

Whilst that statement may be a stretch, I strongly believe that western countries would do more to reduce the chance of terrorism tragedies if we used our considerable expertise and resources to improve the natural resources and associated healthier living conditions in the places where extremists come from.

And like my friend has shown in New Zealand, I think the people from the area of the Syrian conflict have much innovation that they could use to support programs that would fix the environment.

Let's not forget that this area of the Levant - termed the 'Fertile Crescent' was home to the world's first complex societies - dating back to over 10,000 BCE - where wonderful inventions such as writing, the wheel, glass and irrigation began.

Perhaps we should stop reaming so much oil out of the region and concentrate on re-establishing the area as the earthly Garden of Eden? Jewish, Christian and Muslim faiths do agree that this was the location of this fabled place.

Would a reduction of fossil fuel consumption help to reduce conflict in the Middle East? What else could the Western World do to help these countries get through the crisis?

Share this article

42 Comments

Greg Stevenson

-
11:48 am Monday 30 November 2015
Undoubtedly climate change had a role, as did the global financial system. A small hiccup in food production due to out of the ordinary climate cycles are not nullified by commodities and options trading but in the short term accentuated.

Unfortunately the need to eat is a very short term need, if commodities skyrocket, as they did prior to the Tunisia Arab spring, due to profiteering by speculators they have real world consequences. Some poor street merchant can no longer take the stress and lights himself and the world on fire. The waking up of populations to the prospect of having a say in their futures through a democratic process has a knock on effect.

The stress caused by a drought in Syria combined with an unobstructed view of what their Arab neighbours were doing via an unfiltered internet sparked a forlorn hope in Syrians that they could do likewise. Just as it isn't jumping out of an aeroplane without a parachute that kills you, it's the abrupt change in acceleration when you hit the ground, so it has been for the Syrians. 300,000 so far and counting.

Vokalocal

- New Zealand
11:48 am Monday 30 November 2015
Great simplification their buddy. But I think a better simplification is POWER. And those that want it, know that money is how you get it, and oil is a great conduit (along with drugs, piracy, ransoms, and all the other Daesch revenue streams).

But to do this they need people who are desperate enough to be manipulated. Hungry people are pretty desperate, and drought causes hunger, so join the dots please, I'm sure its not just Sam who is able to think a little more laterally, we are all born with a brain.

Vokalocal

- New Zealand
11:48 am Monday 30 November 2015
When I read a comment as ignorant as this, I despair, and I start to wonder if the extremists have won after all. Because their aim is singular: Divide our society, and turn it against itself and against Islam, so that more Muslims will become ostracised within their own countries, and join the 'revolution'. The circle continues and expands, and daddyhotruck and his ilk will continue to unwittingly contribute to the whole mess, with their fear-inspired and hateful comments. Are they really more clever than you?

Vokalocal

- New Zealand
11:48 am Monday 30 November 2015
Along came Islam... and with it along came windmills, guitars, coffee, beautiful and intricate cultures, despite the Christian terrorists (Crusaders) coming through every so often and destroying everything in their path.

Meanwhile in Europe... ever heard of the Dark Ages? Please don't let yourself be led along by the nostrils, people need to take a step back, like Sam is doing in this article, and look at the reasons people become so desperate in the first place. Because it is this desperation that is being exploited of by a handful of extremists, not an entire religion.

Temp8127

-
11:48 am Monday 30 November 2015
(To Belgarion@Paris: Your "like this" thumbs-up button problem, which you have mentioned over the past several days, may be a problem with your computer settings, not with The NZ Herald website. Most likely it is a setting in your browser that is blocking your use of the thumbs-up button. Are you using a script-blocker? If you have more than one browser on your computer, you might want to check if it works on a different browser or try a different computer.)

Moon

- Antarctica
11:48 am Monday 30 November 2015
"If religion or cultural idealists took a good look at their breeding policies and decided a smart idea would be to educate people on the needs for contraception, there would be less mouths to feed hence less poverty."

Absolutely bang on!!

It must be dreadful for women tied to a religious ideal, forced to endure pregnancies and knowing they haven't got the means to raise yet another child.
Although I disagree with your last sentence.

James Allison

-
11:47 am Monday 30 November 2015
Syrian population has increased from 4.5m during the 1960's to 22M in 2011 (now 17M since the recent mass exodus). Combine this population explosion with poor water storage facilities and we have drought conditions. According to satellite data global temps. have't increased for 18 years so I can't fathom how climate change can be blamed for the recent droughts. Perhaps Sam could elucidate in the comments section.

Stupid Old Bat

- West Coast
11:47 am Monday 30 November 2015
Syria produces 33,000 barrels of oil per day. NZ produces 50,000.
Funny how people assume Syria is a major oil producer just because it is in the Middle East.

Gandalf

- St Heliers
11:47 am Monday 30 November 2015
I partly disagree. Obviously increasing temperatures made the drought worse. Nothing else explains it. Fighting over water to too much irrigation doesn't explain the length of a drought.

Research has found the Californian drought was made 20% worse by climate change.What do you think will happen globally with 2 degrees of change or more? Obviously the effect on droughts starts to become very significant indeed, and thats added to all the other effects of climate change.

Gandalf

- St Heliers
11:47 am Monday 30 November 2015
Strawman argument. Nobody is saying global warming causes aquifers to fail. It basically makes droughts worse. This is what the research has found.

Likewise you pose another strawman argument on the civil war. Obviously the basic cause is political but drought can only heihgten tensions and be another cause of so many refugees leaving.

R2D2

- Greerton
11:47 am Monday 30 November 2015
No Sam. You see there are these guys called ISIS...

Mate0012

-
11:47 am Monday 30 November 2015
The Syrian conflict is good for Western economies as all they have left to sell to prop up their economy is weapons. China makes all the other stuff. That's why no one wants to seriously stop this conflict.

Wireless Neanderthal

- Auckland Region
11:46 am Monday 30 November 2015
There a many things an extra 120 parts per million can't do.

It can't make the planet colder, it can't lower sea levels, it can't make both ends of the hydrologic cycle less extreme, that's less droughts and less floods, it can't make precipitation more predictable, it can't lower the amount of water vapour that the atmosphere can hold, it can't reduce the amount of latent heat that drive storms, it can't stabilise ocean PH and it can't completely come out of the system in under a thousand years and it especially can't restore the planets energy balance if the PPM's keep rising.

jockeyboy

- New Zealand
11:46 am Monday 30 November 2015
Good, thought-provoking article Mr. Judd.

Sgt. Schultz

- Auckland
11:46 am Monday 30 November 2015
Old Sam and I with throats burned dry and souls' that cried for water, cool clear water.

"Sam can you see that big green tree and the water's running free and it's waiting there for you and me.."
Load more

More Opinion