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U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice on Syria, Drought, Climate & Conflict

96px-Susan_Rice,_official_State_Dept_photo_portrait,_2009The TV network Showtime has just released the first episode of its newest production, Years of Living Dangerously, which is investigating how climate change is already impacting our lives and security. A major thread of the first episode of the series is the drought in Syria in the years prior to the uprising (from 2006-2010/11). New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, who has been bringing attention to the issue since 2012, when he wrote about our report in “The Other Arab Spring,” visits the Syria/ Turkey border and hosts a series of interviews there and in Washington, DC. One such interview was with Susan Rice, U.S. National Security Advisor. In the interview, transcribed below, Rice does not mince words on climate change being a national security issue, and echoes our assessment from 2012: (more…)

Review: Two New Studies on Syria, Drought, Climate Change, Natural Resource Management and the Uprising

Bashar_and_Asma_al-Assad

In February of 2012 (updated in our report The Arab Spring and Climate Change in 2013) we wrote about drought and natural resource mismanagement in Syria in the past decade, the displacement of about 1.5 million Syrian farmers and herders from 2006-2011, and the role climate change may have played. Our conclusion was that a combination of factors, including the Assad regime’s criminal mismanagement of land, water and food resources (and the subsequent displacement of peoples), an extended period of winter drying since 1973 (linked to climate change by a NOAA report in 2011), culminating in a severe five-year drought, contributed to the collapse of farmland and rangeland that led to this humanitarian crisis. We also concluded that more research was needed to further disentangle the lines of causality for this disaster, and how it might have contributed to the Syrian uprising. That research is beginning to trickle in with the publication of two recent peer-reviewed articles.

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If the Polar Vortex Descends on Syria

ZaatriwinterThis article is cross-posted from ReliefAnalysis.com

By Mehmet Burk

The Northern Hemisphere is in the depths of its winter season. Last week’s polar vortex that plunged much of the US and Canada into subzero headlines made international headlines. Temperatures that cold hadn’t been registered in many places in two decades. (more…)

William Polk: Deep Dive On Syria, Including Drought

Syrian_civil_war_mapWilliam 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…)

The Atlantic Cities: Climate Change and Water Scarcity

Watering_her_sheep,_Dead_Cities_region,_NW_SyriaAtlantic 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.

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