Syria War Has Little To Do With Manmade Climate Change, Recent Publications Show

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Climate change as the main cause of the Syria War remains unconfirmed

By Dr. Sebastian Lüning and Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt
(German text translated/ edited by P Gosselin)

Again and again activist climate scientists claim the Syria war and the associated wave of refugees are a consequence of climate change. But they do not provide proof, and so it remains a claim.

Claim is unconfirmed

Tobias Ide from the Brauschweiger Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research has reviewed the arguments and reaches the conclusion that climate change as the main cause is still unconfirmed. In this respect, all claims to the contrary are on shaky ground.

Here’s the abstract:

Climate War in the Middle East? Drought, the Syrian Civil War and the State of Climate-Conflict Research
This article reviews existing evidence for a climate-conflict link in Syria and examines how the respective debate reproduces three important shortcomings of climate-conflict research. The potential climate-conflict link for Syria can be conceived of as a four-stage process, with various levels of scientific evidence and consensus existing for each stage: (1) climate change inducing the heavy 2006–2009 drought (plausible, but not proven); (2) massive loss of agricultural livelihoods, significantly attributable to the drought (supported by a majority of studies, but contested); (3) massive rural-to-urban migration triggered by livelihood loss in combination with other factors (supported by a majority of studies, but contested); and (4) migration intensifying existing grievances and facilitating the onset of protests and the subsequent civil war (possible, but little knowledge exists). The debate about the Syrian case reproduces three important shortcomings of climate-conflict research: limited dialogue between different methods, an overstatement of differences, and a lack of theoretical engagement. These shortcomings also have adverse impacts in terms of policy advice.

The paper’s conclusion states:

This article firstly reviewed the available literature on climate change and the onset of civil war in Syria in 2011 while considering four stages of a purported causal link: climate change to drought, drought to livelihood loss, livelihood loss to migration, and migration to conflict. Although Syria faced a multi-decadal drying trend and the 2006–2009 drought was unusually severe, comprehensive evidence through attribution studies of a (probabilistic) link to climate change is still lacking. Whether the drought was a relevant cause of rural livelihood loss and whether this livelihood loss facilitated a significant migration to urban areas remains contested, although the majority of studies support these claims. Currently, we know little about whether, and if so how, this migration contributed to the onset of the anti-regime protests in 2011 and the associated civil war.”

Drought natural, completely “recurring phenomenon”

It would also have been nice if Ide had taken the natural climate variability of the last 2,000 years into account. Even if the drought years 2006-2009 had been a co-trigger, in the climate-historical context it is a completely recurring phenomenon.

Look at the column on the far right in the figure below. It depicts the change in rainfall over the past 4000 years in the Eastern Mediterranean. Peaks to the left indicate drought phases:

Figure: The right-hand column shows the change in rainfall over the past 4000 years in the Eastern Mediterranean (offshore Israel). Source: Martin-Puertas et al. 2010. Daten Israel: Schilman et al 2001 (Geology, Palaeo3).   

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9 responses to “Syria War Has Little To Do With Manmade Climate Change, Recent Publications Show”

  1. Patrick healy

    Global warming has “little to do” with Syrian war and refugees.
    The Syrian war and Muslim influx into Europe has nothing, zilch, nada, zero to do with global warming.
    Is that clear enough?

  2. Kurt in Switzerland

    The plot of rainfall proxy in the RH column, Shilman et al. 2001, appears to stop at 100y before the present. Perhaps you could expound.

    But it’s clear to me that the Levant/Maghreb/Middle-Near East climate has always been arid, with extended drought periods being a commonly recurring feature for the entire Holocene. Nothing extraordinary now (except we do have better irrigation and better ability to react to drought in general, barring outright war occurring). Oh, wait.

    Against that background, drastically changing human-caused conditions (be they economic, political, or otherwise) will certainly factor into regional strife. The primary causative factors must certainly be of human origin (and not climate-related), however. Think Bush’s Iraq war and the power vacuum when the troops pulled out. Oh yeah, the worldwide economic downturn in 2008 didn’t help either.

    Remember the former POTUS who make the snarky, yet hopelessly misguided remark that ISIS/ISIL (Daësh) were “junior varsity”. What a tool, a mere footnote in the history of the region, more famous for trying to look “cool” than even scratching the surface of what constitutes “depth” or “gravitas” (unlike the fellow whose bust he removed from the White House as soon as he and his wife and daughters moved in), more content apologizing for America and denigrating Israel than doing anything of substance, let alone remotely promoting “peace” in the Middle East one iota. Hell, at least Clinton was engaged there [how often did the gaunt W. Christopher travel to the region during his four years, or Mme. Albright and her oversized brooches, thereafter], even if the “First Black President” had his weird “Wag the Dog” moment with Osama-directed Cruise Missiles (to remote Afghanistan camps) on the eve of the Impeachment Hearings about that Monica thing. Does anybody remember that event some 20 or so years ago? Wasn’t that surreal? More like life imitating Hollywood…

    Aside: isn’t it downright bizarre that the first name of the most infamous terrorist throughout the term of Bush Jr.looks and sounds almost exactly the same as the first name of the fellow who followed Bush Jr.? Maybe that’s why they added the apostrophe and marketed his “Irish” connection. / sarc off.

    But FAR more important than the POTUS pre “the Donald” or “human-caused climate change” (what a tendentious term) were/are Iran’s meddling in Syrian (and Lebanese) affairs, the dogged Russian quest for a foothold in the region, Kurdish independence movements in Iraq, Turkey and Iran, social and political unrest in the Arab world in general, the virtual tsunami effect of the power of social media, … (for starters).

    Many have surmised that a key catalyst for the “Arab Spring” itself was not “Climate Change” per se, but a direct consequence of the misguided effort to “save the climate” by using arable land for fuel instead of food, thereby rapidly raising food prices for the average Jamal.

    Yet the Lemming-like Leftist bubble will blame anything and everything they can on human CO2 emissions, Trump and Netanyahu. Did I miss anything? (Oh yeah, that evergreen: “Capitalism”).

    Note to researchers of Climate and Polisci: there are plenty of research $₤€ available if you have a convincing Schpiel to present to the Rockefeller, Steyer, Soros,… funding source of your liking.

    1. SebastianH

      isn’t it downright bizarre that the first name of the most infamous terrorist throughout the term of Bush Jr.looks and sounds almost exactly the same as the first name of the fellow who followed Bush Jr.?

      Seriously …

      Yet the Lemming-like Leftist bubble

      … what is wrong with you?

      there are plenty of research $₤€ available if you have a convincing Schpiel to present to the Rockefeller, Steyer, Soros,… funding source of your liking.

      How far on the right are you to believe this is a normal way of communicating/debating?

    2. Yonason

      LOW HANGING FRUIT

      Ism’t it interesting, Kurt, how it’s virtually inevitable that Lefties attack the least relevant bits of what a Conservative posts? But this might be a first, attacking something followed by a “/ sarc off” tag. They’re so desperate, so wrong, so intentionally annoying.

      PS – rephrasing B&t – “Mind you don’t step in the pigeon poo.”

      1. SebastianH

        Oh, there was something relevant in that comment?

      2. Kurt in Switzerland

        Hey Yonason,

        He’s just a self-parody: desperate & tedious. Most of the time he’s “not even wrong”, for being simply “wrong” would require reaching the bar of grasping the subject matter to an adult level and just making a logic or calculation error.

        Yet his is a particularly special form of self-parody: since he doesn’t appear capable of grasping the [apparently unintentional] irony in his own comments.

        Perhaps doomed to Trollhood for eternity, entirely of his own choice. Perhaps not all is lost, for exercising personal choice might help one escape Lemminghood, eventually. Maybe.

        1. Yonason

          Well said, Kurt. That’s probably about as charitable as one can reasonably be without undue risk of compromising one’s probity.

  3. Bitter&twisted

    Meanwhile President Trump continues to show that the green blob has no clothes.

  4. Steve

    Here I was thinking that the USA was simply dumping tons of old bombs on a rather defenceless country so they could get some leverage in the mid east and steal stuff like oil and drugs and gold. If a whole unsuspecting populace gets in the way, well they can just be seen as collateral damage…a bit like global warming.

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