A new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by Kelley et al. finds that the extreme drought preceding the conflict in Syria was 2-3 times more likely due to climate change. The study provides an important data point that reinforces the strength of climate model projections for the Middle East, including Syria. While more research is needed to disentangle the complex web of underlying factors behind the conflict, this study strengthens the connection between climate change and the 2007-2010 drought – a possibility we suggested in our 2012 analysis on the topic, Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest.
The journal article can be accessed here: Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications for the recent Syrian drought.
CCS Co-Directors Caitlin Werrell and Francesco Femia state:
“The extreme drought in Syria from 2007-2010, coupled with natural resource mismanagement by the Assad regime, contributed to the displacement of around 1.5 million farmers and herders in the country before the conflict broke out. This study builds on our own research from 2012 by presenting strong evidence that the drought was 2-3 times more likely because of climate change. While there is a very complex array of social, economic and political factors that drive conflict, the study reinforces the fact that climate change and natural resource mismanagement are problems that can exacerbate instability in a country, and potentially make conflict more likely. Given continued instability and a forecast of increased drying in the region, this issue should be better integrated into the international security agenda.”
Henry Fountain – New York Times – Study Links Syria Conflict to Drought Caused by Climate Change