Monday, 30 November 2015

Syria and climate change: the important synergies

As the major international news focus of the day remains on Syria and on Paris for the opening of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP) on the international Climate Change Convention, the most widely read and probably politically influential British daily newspaper, The Sun, casts doubt on the link between the two issues.

The Sun’s front page story and ‘Sun Says’ comment (“Heir brained”) on 23 November belittled the analysis put forward by Prince Charles - and singer and climate change campaigner, Charlotte Church, earlier on BBC 1’s Question Time- that climate change may have contributed to the troubles in Syria.

However, in June last year the Ministry of Defence published a 200-page report, “Global Strategic Trends—Out to 2045”, produced by the MOD’s Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC), which describes in detail a future context for defence and security up to 2045 warning that if global temperatures continued to rise, the consequent droughts and food shortages could trigger widespread social unrest. (

In addition, in March this year, retired US Navy Rear-Admiral David W. Titley an internationally known expert in the field of climate, the Arctic, and National Security, and Founding Director of the Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk at Penn State University in America (who served for 32 years in the US Navy) and while serving in the US Defense Department headquarters at the Pentagon, initiated and led the US Navy’s Task Force on Climate Change - major peer-reviewed study in March made a link between climate change and the Syrian civil war.

His analysis explains how the droughts in Syria are likely to be caused by accelerating climate change, which has led to more people leaving rural areas and coming into the cities, adding to social unrest.

Moreover, the section on ‘Climate change and resource scarcity’ in the Government’s National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review (

published on 23 November, set out the following at paragraphs 3.42-3: “By 2030, the world could face demands for 50% more food and energy and 30% more water, while their availability becomes threatened by climate change. The Middle East and North Africa region will be particularly at risk, given existing high levels of water stress and high rates of population growth. Sub-Saharan Africa may suffer from climate change impacts on crop production in particular. Rising sea levels threaten coastal cities and small islands.

More frequent extreme weather events are likely to disrupt populations, agriculture and supply chains, making political instability, conflict and migration more likely. In contrast to the West’s ageing populations, almost 50% of the world’s population is under the age of 24, the vast majority in developing countries. This presents opportunities in terms of potential for driving economic growth. But risks include under-employment, an increase in existing resource stresses, greater instability and migration pressures.”

Time warmongering, bombing favouring MPs wised-up to a wider global reality.



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