Climate Change, Drought, and War

"Four years of devastating drought from 2006 to 2011 turned Syria into a land like the American “dust bowl” of the 1930s. That drought was said to have been the worst ever recorded, but it was one in a long sequence: Just in the period from 2001 to 2010, Syria had 60 “significant” dust storms. The most important physical aspect of these storms, as was the experience in America in the 1930s, was the removal of the topsoil. Politically, they triggered the civil war."
- William Polk, Understanding Syria: From Pre-Civil War to Post-Assad, The Atlantic, Dec. 10, 2013

But then in the late 13th century, the Little Ice Age struck. Crop production fell, and pack ice formed in the oceans, wrecking trade routes. People began to starve.

"In this climate of death and horror, people cast about for scapegoats, even before the Black Death struck," he says. Tolerance withered with the climate shocks: the Church declared witchcraft a heresy; the Jews began to be expelled from Britain. There was, he says, "a very close correlation between the cooling and a region-wide heightening of violent intolerance." ...
The crowd says this mosque – like most fundamentalist mosques on earth – is funded by Saudi Arabia, with the money you and I pay at the petrol pump. As I looked up at its green minaret jutting into the sky, it occurs to me that our oil purchases are simultaneously drowning Bangladesh, and paying for the victims to be fundamentalised.
- Bangladesh set to disappear under the waves by the end of the century, Belfast Telegraph, June 20, 2008

“Climate change contributes to conflict,” noted Neal Keny-Guyer, the C.E.O. of Mercy Corps, the aid group. He observed that a drier climate is widely believed to have caused agricultural failures, tensions and migrations that played a role in the Syrian civil war, the Darfur genocide and the civil war in northeastern Nigeria.
- NICHOLAS KRISTOF, Swallowed by the Sea, NYT, JAN. 19, 2018

Rising temperatures in the Himalayas, home to most of the world’s tallest mountains, will melt at least one-third of the region’s glaciers by the end of the century even if the world’s most ambitious climate change targets are met, according to a report released Monday.

If those goals are not achieved, and global warming and greenhouse gas emissions continue at their current rates, the Himalayas could lose two-thirds of its glaciers by 2100, according to the report, the Hindu Kush Himalaya Assessment.

Under those more dire circumstances, the Himalayas could heat up by 8 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius) by century’s end, bringing radical disruptions to food and water supplies, and mass population displacement.

Glaciers in the Hindu Kush Himalayan Region, which spans over 2,000 miles of Asia, provide water resources to around a quarter of the world’s population. ...
A government report released last year found that India was experiencing the worst water crisis in its history. About half of India’s population, around 600 million people, faced extreme water scarcities, the report found, with 200,000 people dying each year from inadequate access to safe water.

By 2030, the country’s demand for water is likely to be twice the available supply.
- Kai Schultz and Bhadra Sharma, Rising Temperatures Could Melt Most Himalayan Glaciers by 2100, NYT, Feb. 4, 2019

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