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Updated: One-stop list of resources on Syria, drought, climate change and unrest

Syrian_civil_war_mapWe have written extensively on the topic of Syria, drought, natural resource mismanagement, climate change and social unrest, beginning in 2012, and followed by a broader look at the region in our report The Arab Spring and Climate Change in the winter of 2013. Since then, the situation in the country has deteriorated dramatically, and the complexities of the conflict on the ground continue to multiply. (more…)

Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest

This article was also posted on AlertNet

by Francesco Femia and Caitlin Werrell

Syria’s current social unrest is, in the most direct sense, a reaction to a brutal and out-of-touch regime and a response to the political wave of change that began in Tunisia early last year. However, that’s not the whole story. The past few years have seen a number of significant social, economic, environmental and climatic changes in Syria that have eroded the social contract between citizen and government in the country, have strengthened the case for the opposition movement, and irreparably damaged the legitimacy of the al-Assad regime. If the international community, and future policy-makers in Syria, are to address and resolve the drivers of unrest in the country, these changes will have to be better explored and exposed. (more…)

New Report: The United States, the South China Sea, Natural Resources and Climate Change

After a long transition, and winter break (a strange one, to be sure – the daffodils here in DC started to emerge yesterday, and today it’s snowing…), we’re back.

And what better post-break gift than a new report from the Center for a New American Security? “Cooperation from Strength: The United States, China and the South China Sea” is a good one. You should read the whole thing. But given our focus on climate and security, we’re going to briefly highlight the section on climate change in Will Rogers’ chapter “The Role of Natural Resources in the South China Sea.” (more…)

Thailand Forecast: Floods, Droughts and Political Instability

The devastation caused by Thailand’s recent floods is vast. Two million people across 26 provinces were affected by the event, at least 527 people were killed, and a quarter of the country’s important rice crop may have been decimated. But beyond these headlines, the flood waters present a very harsh lesson in resilience. Climate change, weather, geography and politics all conspired to teach this lesson – but not just to Thailand. It is a warning to a world facing myriad risks in the ecological landscape – risks that are exacerbated by the volatility of political institutions, and the uncertainties that come with them. The challenge, for Thailand and the globe, will be to make the task of managing these risks impervious to the politics of the day, and responsive to the challenges of the future. (more…)

Rolling the Dice Over Russia: Climate Change and the 2010 Heat Wave

Łukasz 'Loukas' LiniewiczA new study by Rahmstorf and Coumou makes an explicit link between climate change and Western Russia’s long, brutal heat wave of July 2010, which caused numerous deaths, plunged Moscow into a sea of smog, and decimated the country’s wheat crops (leading officials to ban all grain exports). The study is significant as it contradicts earlier findings by Dole et al that seems to have confused, in Rahmstorf’s words, “an absence of evidence,” with “evidence of absence.” The authors assert that the “2010 Moscow heat record is, with 80% probability, due to the long-term climatic warming trend.” (more…)

A New Libya in a New Climate: Charting a Sustainable Course for the Post-Gaddafi Era

There is an atmosphere of heady optimism amongst the Libyan public, and there should be. Muammar Gaddafi, after over 40 long years in power, has fallen. His peculiarly brutal brand of government (essentially a Ceausescu-style surveillance state with a neo-bedouin fashion veneer) has fallen with him, to join the same sands of history that have swept away Libyan rulers for centuries, from Roman governors to Ottoman pashas. (more…)

Unintended Consequences: Thomas Midgley and the Geo-engineering Treadmill

The Spice must flow. Or not.

A few days ago, the UK-based Stratospheric Particle Injection for Climate Engineering project, or “SPICE,” was asked to delay its initial step in a project aimed at cooling the Earth’s climate. Essentially, its ultimate aim is to one day mimic the effects of volcanic eruptions through the large-scale spraying of climate-cooling sulphate particles into the stratosphere. The first step is to use water particles sprayed from a balloon, but that will have to wait. (more…)