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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…)

China, Water Transfers, Disease and Climate Change: Transferring Risk with Water?

Liujiaxia-DamChina is in the process of constructing a massive “South-North Water Transfer Project” connecting the more water-abundant south to the water-stressed north. There are a number of motivations for building the project including natural water scarcity, increased demand from both increased industrialization and population, decreasing water quality, and recent instances of severe droughts (with implications for global food supply). There are still some uncertainties about how exactly climate change will impact water resources in China, but projections of significant rainfall variability are well-founded, and the government is taking the potential risks seriously. In that context, this project could be seen as part of China’s climate adaptation strategy, though it is already apparent that there are some serious unintended consequences. (more…)

China Environment Series: Coal Heaven, Water Hell

800px-Bayan_hot_inner_mongoliaThe Woodrow Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum has just published the 12th edition of its China Environment Series (CES12). This edition, like previous editions, is packed full of interesting content focusing on environmental issues in and around China. This year, the special focus is on the water-energy nexus, and opportunities for cooperation over clean energy between the United States and China. (more…)

UK’s ODI: Climate Change to Make Poor Poorer

Horn_of_Africa_lack_of_RainfallThe United Kingdom’s Overseas Development Institute (ODI) has released a report which argues that climate change may make the world’s very poor even poorer. This is primarily due to the fact that drought, extreme rainfall and flooding deeply impact poor and vulnerable communities, and climate models (and recent observations) paint a picture of an increase in those events. As reported by Environment 360: (more…)

Madagascar Election Cycles and Cyclones

Tropical_Cyclone_Giovanna_-_NASA_Earth_ObservatoryThe polls open today, October 25th, in Madagascar, and some hold hopes that they will close five years of instability.  A military-backed coup in 2009 led by Andry Rajoelina ousted then President Marc Ravalomanana. The international community condemned the coup and swiftly instituted sanctions. Ongoing instability and international isolation has since dramatically increased the vulnerability of the island, with some 92% of the population now living below the poverty line. The elections, the first in five years, offer an opportunity to reverse an otherwise downward trend.  But there are natural forces to contend with as well. (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.

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

Syrian_Civil_WarOver 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…)