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This article is cross-posted from ReliefAnalysis.com
By Mehmet Burk
William R. Polk, a Middle East and North Africa expert who began his career on the State Department’s Policy Planning Council during the Kennedy Administration, has written an interesting piece for the Atlantic on Syria before the civil war, and looking out towards a post-Assad future. He includes a section on the 2006/7-2011 drought, and cites the Center for Climate and Security: (more…)
Atlantic Cities’ John Metcalfe recently ran a piece arguing that water scarcity – with an emphasis on more severe drought – is the most immediate threat emanating from a changing climate. While we would add “water variability” to that assessment (as too much water, or too much or too little water when you’re expecting something different, are consequences of climate change that are also problematic factors that compound scarcity), it’s important to highlight this issue in the mainstream media, which tends to primarily focus on sea level rise and extreme storms. Given the IPCC’s assessment that we’re already seeing extended droughts that are likely linked to climate change, and recent studies such as NOAA’s 2011 report which linked climate change to the decrease in winter precipitation in the Mediterranean littoral and the Mashreq since the 1970s, its a prescient warning.
Though we would not have chosen the headline, CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour cited the Center for Climate and Security last Friday in a piece called “Syria violence caused by…water supply?” Her commentary is a lot more measured, however, and she does a good job of laying out the connections between drought and displacement from 2006-2011. The short video segment did not allow for a description of the significant governance, water and land management deficiencies of the Assad regime that also contributed to a plummeting groundwater table (and decimation of 60% of Syria’s arable land), but it’s good to see this neglected facet of the issue receive mainstream attention. See our reports “The Arab Spring and Climate Change” and “Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest” for more.
Over the past week, as attention to the humanitarian crisis in Syria has heightened in the United States, the mainstream media has taken a closer look at some of the underlying factors that contributed to unrest in the country, including some of the environmental, climatic and natural resource security issues at play in the lead up to the revolution. This coverage has included interviews with us, commentary from William Polk and Nayan Chanda, and references to key documents and evidence. Below is a list of links to the news coverage, previous articles on the issue, and a few of the key documents cited (note: we are not responsible for any of the headlines!) (more…)