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Climate Change, Scarcity, War: Where We are Going? by CityTech blogger Rabea Begum

Image Credit: Adapted from (Kelley, S, Cane, Seager, & Kushnir, 2014)

Climate Change a ‘Contributing Factor’ in Syrian Conflict by  Brian Kahn

This article on ClimateCentral is focusing on how climate change is the beginning of conflict in Syria, specifically basing ideas off a new report on the subject. Here, we can see that drought in Syria has contributed to a civil war, and if we go to the depth of it we can simply say that food was being fought over. We all know that if there is drought that means there may not be sufficient food. Syria faced drought for sequential years that pressured and eventually contributed to the collapse of society. There was also a trend of increased death in winter for the last 25 years. Greenhouse gas emissions are making the drought worse! Research by Colin Kelly the lead author of the new study and a PACE postdoctoral fellow at University of California Santa Barbara, found that greenhouse gas emissions have tripled the chance of drought in Syria. Temperatures in the summer have been rising and sapping moisture from the soils. So far, summer temperatures within the Fertile Crescent have risen by about 2.2°F since 1900. As this high heat draws moisture from the soil it creates more drought and soil becomes less fertile.  If we go to the science of climate change we can understand that greenhouse gas emissions are directly responsible for climate change. It may be a good idea to have more trees planted in places with climate stressed areas. Aside from a more colorful world, soil needs more trees to absorb sunlight and preserve soil moisture. Also, deforestation is another contributing source of carbon dioxide.


Despite these influences climate change was not the only factor that contributed to the uprising in Syria says Kelley. The author iterates that climate change is a contributing factor. Despite this, we can see that there is lot of influence of climate change on the region. From that we can understand that farmers and below average income people are in the most peril. They could not afford food and they had to deal with drought for five consecutive years. People were moving to urban areas to escape famine and drought, but the government could not provide enough jobs for all the people. A warmer world creates more scarcity on the Earth. It would rise food prices, and there would be less available fresh water in some parts of the world. People will fight for resources, and ultimately the world may become more violent.


Kelley, C. P., S, M., Cane, M. A., Seager, R., & Kushnir, Y. (2014). Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112, 3241-3246.

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3 Responses

  1. Thank you for this summary and analysis of the article. Following the roots of a conflict and finding the source to be climate change is incredibly telling and demonstrates the importance of mitigating climate change to avoid conflict. Of course, other factors are responsible for the conflict escalating to the point it is at currently. Food security is directly linked to this conflict and climate change. Food security is majorly threatened in times of conflict leading to malnutrition and in extreme cases starvation. It is important to acknowledge the role that climate change played in the conflict, as it is evidence that climate change is very real and has profound effects on war and in turn food security.

  2. The drought event that happened in Syria has drawn many people’s attention. Due to the rise of temperature, the lands became very dry in this country. Therefore, the crop production was decreasing and the price of food went up. People without food and water for days will certainly do whatever it takes to survive. In this matter, countries helping each other through a natural disaster will bring aid to people. Preparation for future disasters is another crucial factor to be considered.

  3. This is so important! And often discounted. It’s really great to see you include the cyclical nature of the problem, as well, because the self-exacerbation is absolutely relevant. I find it relevant to note that the effect the wars in Syria themselves have had on the region make the problem worse too. For example, in Jordan, the influx of Syrian refugees has put a strain on their water resources, causing political issues to arise between Jordan and Israel. Environmental concerns and politics are tightly tied together in the Middle East and are absolutely worth following as climate change continues to alter our world.

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