Drought Helped Spark Syria’s Civil War — Is it One of Many Climate Wars to Come?

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Climate change is already hurting the world’s most vulnerable populations. Those who live in areas hit hard by drought, severe storms or rising seas and can’t relocate because of economic or social factors bear the brunt of our planet’s increasing volatility.

One way the changing climate has already made itself known is through a devastating drought — and ensuing food shortage — in Syria; it created a powder keg, and played a significant role in sparking the country’s civil war. We can expect to see similar scenarios unfold in the future.

Moyers & Company’s John Light spoke with Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security — a think tank with an advisory board consisting of retired military commanders and international affairs experts — about how climate change serves as a “threat multiplier” in volatile regions such as Syria, Egypt and Pakistan, and what America’s role should be in a world in which climate change increasingly exacerbates — and causes — international crises.


John Light: What’s been going on with Syria’s water resources over the past several years?

Francesco Femia: Essentially, a massive, five-and-a-half-year drought. From 2006 to 2011, 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced, in the words of one expert, the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago. That, on top of natural resource mismanagement by the Assad regime — subsidizing water-intensive wheat and cotton farming and unsustainable irrigation techniques — led to a large amount of devastation.

Francesco Femia

There are some quite frightening numbers. Herders and farmers in the north and south had to pick up and move. Nearly 75 percent of farmers in the northeast suffered total crop failure. Herders in the northeast lost around 85 percent of their livestock, which affected about 1.3 million people. That was happening before the civil war in Syria broke out.

Many international security analysts were saying, right up to the day before protest broke out in the small rural town of Daraa, that Syria was immune to the Arab Spring and to the grievances that other Arab publics had brought to bear on their leaders. And that clearly wasn’t the case.

There was quite a bit of displacement happening; millions were trekking into urban areas. Those urban areas were experiencing quite a bit of economic insecurity. Some of that was also coming from poverty and competition from other influxes of people — for example, Iraqi refugees who had been flowing into Syria since 2003, and also Palestinian refugees. These were cities that were already hard-pressed economically.

There wasn’t a lot of information on this until quite recently. The Assad regime wasn’t allowing journalists access to these farmers and herders who were moving into the cities. The military would often accompany the migrants to make sure that journalists had no access. But under the surface of what seemed to be a stable country, there was a large-scale environmental and human disaster happening.

Thousands of Syrian Muslims pray for rain at the Grand Umayyad Mosque in central Damascus in 2006. (AP Photo Bassem Tellawi).

Light: How would you explain to a security analyst that this is related to climate change?

Femia: Part of the picture that was missing when we started looking into this issue were the climate dynamics. A NOAA study published in October 2011 showed that there was strong evidence that the recent prolonged period of drought in the Mediterranean littoral area, including the Middle East, is linked to climate change. It was one of the first studies linking climate to observable changes as opposed to just looking out at projected changes.

And then a recent model of climate impact for the future conducted by The International Food Policy Research Institute projected that if current rates of greenhouse gas emissions continue, yields of rain-fed crops in Syria will likely decline between 29 and 57 percent from 2010 to 2050. That’s a huge number.

And when you look at the effects of the drought on people within Syria, we can see that displacement has put strains on urban areas and could have contributed to the spread of unrest in Syria.

Of course the conflict is ongoing, and it’s very difficult to study anything that’s happening in Syria at this point. We still have yet to disentangle the line from climate and drought, to displacement, to conflict. We’re not making any causal claims about climate change causing conflict, but it certainly is what the security community calls a “threat multiplier.” It makes other threats to human security worse, and in this case we see it fast at hand.

If security analysts had been incorporating environmental security variables, including climate, into their assessments of how stable Syria was, they may have been able to make a different assessment of Syria’s stability and warned policymakers.

Light: What are some other effects of climate change that you can see exacerbating tensions in already-tense areas?

Femia: Climate change primarily manifests itself through water. But it varies; different kinds of water, different ways. It can lead to more extreme weather events: either a drought or a major storm or an amount of rainfall that’s unusual and leads to flooding. It’s not just scarcity, it’s too much, too little and unpredictably. For example, it’s already difficult to predict how the monsoon season will change from year to year. It’s the same with droughts in the Sahel behaving differently.

And then with salt water you have the problem of sea level rise and ocean acidification. Sea level rise is likely to devastate infrastructure along the coastlines, but it will also have a significant impact on freshwater and the economies that are tied to coastal infrastructure, which go far inland in many countries. It’s not divorced from fresh water: sea level rise can penetrate aquifers that are close to the coast and then you have salt water intrusion, which makes that fresh water useless. Egypt is going to be facing a pretty significant problem in the future as a result of this, a problem that it doesn’t need, as its coastal aquifers — there are many, there’s a lot of water there — have sea water intrude. A significant part of Egypt’s economy is based on that area of the Nile delta in and around the coastline, and a lot of the country’s population is there.

Light: How do these climate change-related conflicts — what we see now in Syria, or what we will see elsewhere in the future — affect U.S. security interests? How should we be thinking about these conflicts strategically?

Femia: The U.S. has started to define its security not just in terms of potential conflicts between nations but also in terms of how failed and fragile states might contribute to transnational security problems. These states can pose any number of problematic security risks, whether it’s a sharp increase in cross-border refugee movement creating refugee crises, whether it’s the implosion of a state that leads to the proliferation of non-state actors — terrorist organizations that might feed on such a situation — or the proliferation of weapons. It can also lead to significant food insecurity, which can have global implications.

For example, Pakistan is a very worrying place, not just because you have a number of terrorist organizations that operate in Pakistan, but also because they have a lot of nuclear material, fissile material and weapons floating around in that country. At the same time, Pakistan is quite vulnerable to the effects of glacial melting, which provides a lot of its water. We saw the impacts of flooding in Pakistan not that long ago, which displaced millions of people. So you don’t want to place this climate strain on a country that’s already so fragile and vulnerable. There are a lot of security problems associated with the situation on the ground in places like Pakistan, places like East Africa, etc.

We also need to look at the issue in a broader sense. Obviously, arctic melt is going to affect the movement of goods. Climate change may be affecting the movement of fisheries in, for example, places like the South China Sea. It’s a main shipping lane for the United States. The South China Sea is very important for both the U.S. and China, and global trade, and is sort of a sticking point, with many disputes over who can operate in what part of the sea. Climate change is going to have security implications across the globe and conflict is just one area of concern.

Light: How would you recommend America address the increasing number of conflicts exacerbated by climate change?

Femia: What the U.S. should do in this context is, first, focus on integrating climate change and environmental security variables into how it analyzes intelligence and how it looks at the conflict potential of a region or nation. What that means is that the analysts — not just in the intelligence community but also in places like USAID and the State Department — who look at parts of the world and try to anticipate what might go wrong in these areas, they really need to look at the climate and environmental security variables that impact people’s lives and also look out 10, 15, 20 years at potential conflicts down the line.

Secondly, the U.S. has to do the same sort of thing in its broader national security planning. The Department of Defense has actually been leading the charge in this area. For example, in 2010, it included climate change in its quadrennial defense review. The Navy has a task force on climate change looking at the impacts of sea level rise, not just on the Navy itself, but on how that might influence national security.

Thirdly, based on those assessments, put some resources into the issue. We put a lot of money — oftentimes with bipartisan support — into counterterrorism. We put a lot of money into nonproliferation. But we don’t see that level of resources going into combating climate change. I’d say the U.S., by elevating this issue in its national security thinking, should prioritize devoting resources to both adapting to climate change itself and to helping countries that are vulnerable adapt to climate impacts. It should be a bipartisan issue. It is a national security issue. There’s nothing ideological about the problem. Climate change is happening and we should do something about it. There are differences in how to go about addressing the issue, but in general this is something that there should be widespread agreement on. When you look at it in the context of security, it’s obvious that this has nothing to do with party divisions and we should be putting the necessary resources into it.

Part of the problem is some analysts will say, “Well, we don’t want, for example, the military doing much about climate change, that’s not what they do.” Well, that’s true. But if you let this problem get out of hand you’re going to have a number of situations in the future, whether they’re major disasters or conflicts, that our security forces may have to respond to. It will cost us a lot more in the long term if we do nothing now.

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  • Anonymous

    This is distressing. So we either eliminate coal and start quickly moving away from oil or we will see more of this. There was also a report about melting ice capped mountains in South America. The summer melts watered crops and valleys, but with the loss of the snow caps droughts. Americans have always waved the future off for current needs. We just have to become smarter.
    We need to elect smarter politicians who are not in bed with large corporations. It is difficult to go against big money, but that is what it will take.
    Lack of food to feed one’s family translates: “Fighting time is here.”

  • Anonymous

    Great. They’re fighting over their water while we’re poisoning ours….

  • Anonymous

    Using that logic then the Earth would still be a big ice ball. I will agree with the GOP statement tho.

  • Anonymous

    Hardly – it was not sn ice ball during the last series of ice ages either. It will be different in unpleasant ways – some areas of the world, not the northern latitudes will have attractive changes.

    It will be interesting to see how it all sorts out.

  • Anonymous

    The GOP is right only if we accept their position and don’t change. Yes, it is different – we are already experiencing that. However, it is within our power to co-create authentically sustainable societies that live within the parameters of our new ecological reality … however the window of opportunity for doing that is closing fast.

  • nld3

    Plus the added population growth!

  • Anonymous

    I didn’t say it was an ice ball. I said if what you claim is true it would be.

  • EpluribusUNO

    US deficit spending has the effect of EXPORTING OUR INFLATION to other countries by requiring them to accept worthless dollars in payment for their resources and for their reserve currency to qualify for Western Bank loans. This raises their cost of food to over 40% of income. That is a universal tipping point for revolution. When combined with a drought, food prices rise further. Vicious cycle enriches banks, impoverishes people, causes refugees. The our corporations go in and take their resources for subsistence payments.

  • Anonymous

    Of course this article is about drought and not about the other side of the coin: overpopulation. There is enough water but too many people as well as their crops that need it. When I was borne the world had 2.4 B people. No-one ever mentioned water shortages. Now there are 7B people in the world, each needing water and food which requires water. Rather than spend trillions to make machinery and fuel more eco friendly, maybe we can get more bang for our buck by concentrating on the root source of the problem: over population.

    Maybe we need to start telling the religious leaders of the world who oppose birth control that God did not intend us to destroy the earth. God gave us the whole world to maintain and no-one gets special exceptions. Maybe those opposed to population control need a clear message that they are enemies of the earth. They need to be told that it is true God will provide and He has: he has given us the brains to save ourselves.

  • Anonymous

    ” other side of the coin: overpopulation”
    Overpopulation of bankers, financing destruction,
    affects both sides of the coin.

  • Anonymous

    al-CIA-duh is gassing to reduce the population.
    After U$ flattens Syria, will the climate improve ?

  • Anonymous

    AGW is war by other means from the deniers. With condolences, this was an AGW predicted quake – “Strong earthquake in Guatemala injures many, one dead” (By Deborah Byrd; earthsky.org, 9/7/13). I was graciously allowed to predict this quake and others in the blog comments of

    insidecostarica.com/2013/09/05…

    on ~7:59 PM CST 9/5/13 under my icon.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sorry, I can’t stop laughing at you lunatics.

  • Anonymous

    Inventing dots to connect is not the same as connecting the dots. Stop hiring alarmist “scientific” drama queens to create news and return to journalism.

  • Anonymous

    Bill Moyers,

    I go back to almost the days of black and white TV in my respect for you. Your insights on religion and politics have been an important part of my life. Today you lost my respect. This article was not researched. There is no drought in Syria. There was a minor one a 3- 4 years ago in the mostly uninhabited interior of the country. See-

    http://drought.mssl.ucl.ac.uk/drought.html?map=%2Fwww%2Fdrought%2Fweb_pages%2Fdrought.map&program=%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmapserv&root=%2Fwww%2Fdrought2%2F&map_web_imagepath=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_imageurl=%2Ftmp%2F&map_web_template=%2Fdrought.html

    What a URL! More important, drought is not a sign of climate change. It is a normal part of weather, reported in the Bible and ever since. Please research Middle East droughts. To mis-attribute important problems to “climate change” is to misunderstand and neglect the real causes of problems- which results in bad policy (and bad journalism). We are both old, but that is no excuse for not doing the research and critical thinking required to understand a problem and help others understand it.

  • Jasonn

    Hey Bill, it’s a F’n desert.

    LIBERALISM: The triumph of emotion over common sense.

  • SouthLake

    HA! This is great! I love good satire.

  • Edward Kirby

    “More important, drought is not a sign of climate change. It is a normal part of weather, reported in the Bible and ever since.”

    Drought is a *key* indicator of climate change! What do you think created the Sahara? What do you think brought proto-Humans (Australopithecus) out of the trees some 3 million years back? Those drought events in the Bible…? From climate change. This one is contemporaneous with Moses and the Trojan War:

    http://www.sci-news.com/archaeology/science-collapse-late-bronze-age-civilizations-climate-change-01316.html

    And this one ended the Old Kingdom of Egypt (as well as the Akkadian Empire) a thousand years earlier:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4.2_kiloyear_event

    Although these two events — and many more similar to it — were driven by natural cycles or volcanic eruptions (as opposed to the one we are in now, driven by humans), they were still climate change events.

    And given the rapid manner in which Egypt of the 23rd century BCE devolved from a prosperous agricultural society into one where famine was widespread and cannibalism was evident — less than a generation — perhaps we should pay attention. The current descent will likely be much quicker than even that.

  • Edward Kirby

    Many reporters focus on the here and now; what happened today. Most analysts focus on the manner in which said event impacts their particular area of expertise (and Femia does in this interview).

    I don’t know of anyone that connects all the dots of events like this until it is long over. And they are called historians.

  • Edward Kirby

    The root cause of overpopulation is technology. Without it, we wouldn’t have medicine or wheat hybrids or sanitation or a wide variety of improvements that keep us from dying.

    Technology also causes AGW, so there’s that too.

  • Anonymous

    Drought is NOT a key indicator of climate change over years or even longer periods. You are confusing drought, which naturally occurs in all climates and is less than normal precipitation, with things such as desertification which occur over longer periods and can be caused by natural events or human events such as deforestation. In any case, look at the URL above and you will see Syria is not in a drought. Here’s another indication-

    “…..At the conclusion of USDA’s winter-long crop monitoring effort over Syria, it is apparent that the country has experienced a generally favorable wheat growing season this year, though regional moisture availability and growing conditions have been quite varied. Overall wheat production is estimated a little higher than last year, and about 14 percent above the 5-year average. USDA’s estimate released June 12, 2012 for marketing year 2012/13 wheat production is 4.0 million tons, up 0.15 million or 4 percent from last year……”
    United States Dept. of Agriculture

    The more harmful part of the article is blaming anthropogenic climate change instead of trying to understand the real causes, and thereby find solutions. “Climate change” has become a sort of scapegoat for creating blame instead of reason.

  • Edward Kirby

    So once that train gets moving… it stays in the station?

  • Edward Kirby

    I’m sorry but I zoomed into the map on the link you provided, maxed out the “Drought Assessment Period: and it told me that the southern and eastern parts of Syria were in either severe, extreme, or exceptional drought.

    Regarding your clip from the USDA reference (link not included, BTW), the information references the 2012/2013 growing season. Meanwhile, in the article above, Femia clearly states that “…from 2006 to 2011, 60 percent of Syria’s land experienced, in the words of one expert, the worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilizations began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago.” Thus, the info you are posting is outside the time frame referenced in the article.

    Also note this article from spring of last year:

    http://thebulletin.org/climate-change-and-syrian-uprising

    “From 1900 until 2005, there were six droughts of significance in Syria; the average monthly level of winter precipitation during these dry periods was approximately one-third of normal. All but one of these droughts lasted only one season; the exception lasted two. Farming communities were thus able to withstand dry periods by falling back on government subsidies and secondary water resources. This most recent, the seventh drought, however, lasted from 2006 to 2010, an astounding four seasons — a true anomaly in the past century. Furthermore, the average level of precipitation in these four years was the lowest of any drought-ridden period in the last century.

    While impossible to deem one instance of drought as a direct result of anthropogenic climate change, a 2011 report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration regarding this recent Syrian drought states: “Climate change from greenhouse gases explained roughly half the increased dryness of 1902-2010.” Martin Hoerling, the lead researcher of the study, explains: “The magnitude and frequency of the drying that has occurred is too great to be explained by natural variability alone. This is not encouraging news for a region that already experiences water stress, because it implies natural variability alone is unlikely to return the region’s climate to normal.” The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts that global warming will induce droughts even more severe in this region in the coming decades.

    It is estimated that the Syrian drought has displaced more than 1.5 million people; entire families of agricultural workers and small-scale farmers moved from the country’s breadbasket region in the northeast to urban peripheries of the south. The drought tipped the scale of an unbalanced agricultural system that was already feeling the weight of policy mismanagement and unsustainable environmental practices. Further, lack of contingency planning contributed to the inability of the system to cope with the aftermath of the drought. Decades of poorly planned agricultural policies now haunt Syria’s al-Assad regime.”

    So, when the USDA report states that:

    “…overall wheat production is estimated a little higher than last year, and about 14 percent above the 5-year average. USDA’s estimate released June 12, 2012 for marketing year 2012/13 wheat production is 4.0 million tons, up 0.15 million or 4 percent from last year,” what it appears to be saying is that it could hardly get worse, but that the unprecedented four year drought had ended (or at least, taken a break).

    Regarding your comment that “the article is blaming anthropogenic climate change instead of trying to understand the real causes,” it seems to me that the article does place plenty of the blame on “natural resource mismanagement by the Assad regime.” That line is right there in the first paragraph of Femia’s first response.

  • Edward Kirby

    And yes, you were correct: I was referring to desertification.

  • Edward Kirby

    Also, see the Friedman article from this spring, where he says the same thing about Egypt:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-scary-hidden-stressor.html?_r=0

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Edward,
    I should have noticed how old the article was that a friend sent me. My bad. Yes, the Southern and Eastern parts of Syria (Jordan even worse) had the bad drought a few years ago. Check and see where the great majority of the people live and where most farming is. I have no updated info on this years crop yields. Syria is a great tragedy, and I’m torn between punishing Assad and not. There are all sorts of demographic and environmental problems besides the political one. Blaming climate change doesn’t help understand the problems or solve them. I think Bill Moyers is usually very insightful, but the analysis he presents is just more of the same conjecture about anthropogenic climate change which may or may not be the case. It’s possible that the 20 years of significant warming (0.5 degrees C from 1978-1998) in the last 70 years of flat-lining or slightly cooling temps could be responsible for climate change, but every study of hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, heat waves, etc. shows nothing unprecedented or even unusual. Blaming climate change based on models and not data, seems to me, irresponsible and, in any case, unhelpful in addressing real problems.

  • Anonymous

    Edward,

    The earlier “stressor” was our USA decision to subsidize and then create a market for corn bio fuel by requiring our auto fuels to contain 10% or more. Using food for fuel raises food prices world wide (and not just corn) causing untold suffering and starvation among the poor and marginalized. I agree with the concept of stressor, but the human induced climate change is, again, just a hypothesis without confirmation, whereas the increase in food prices from our bio fuel program is a known. Perversely, the program continues despite evidence of harm and no evidence that it even reduces CO2 emissions.

  • Edward Kirby

    I view it — not so much as punishing Syria — but rather “is this a harbinger of things to come”; the first in a long line.

    There was a UN report on poverty that made all the front pages on a slow news day a decade or so back. It assessed all the regions of the Earth, and made a number of conclusions. But it said that the Arab world was at the bottom of the list when it came to per capita wealth. The report went on to say that it was the result of dictatorial rule, corruption, etc., and if those countries didn’t get their act together soon, there would be trouble there. Well, now there’s trouble there.

    Second from the bottom was Latin America, and for now at least, I think they’ve started to get their act together. But I think that region might still be the canary in the coalmine for climate change-related conflicts.

    At this point in history — thanks in a large part to Pax Americana — wars between neighboring states are a thing of the past. What that means is, without an attacking external “them” for “us” to unite against, “we” begin to turn against each other. A jump in food prices due to climate change is just what the poorer countries need for revolution. And contrary to what many people think, most of the time revolution begins in the kitchens and not in the streets. When hungry mothers take up arms against the government, those in power had better take notice. Like Napoleon said, “I’d rather face an army of a million men than my own people when they are hungry”.

    “Blaming climate change based on models and not data, seems to me, irresponsible and, in any case, unhelpful in addressing real problems.”

    Be that as it may, I personally prefer to look for historical precedents. And what we have to work with doesn’t look good for the future; even for the near term future. Given how fast collapse came on in the past, we should really (at the very least) consider what to do should it happen again in the here and now.

  • redheadgoddess

    When I saw the title of this article, I thought it was an Onion write-up.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve read many, many ridiculous articles attempting to attribute climate change to events. This is just another one. A drought, an event that regularly occurs on this planet historically can not be attributed to 16 years of no warming.

  • Anonymous

    Because it’s ridiculous. No need to wonder.

  • Anonymous

    Water quality has been increasing for quite some time.

  • Anonymous

    The ridiculous notion of runaway global warming gets a run again. If the process did not get underway when CO2 was in the thousands of parts per million in the past why do you hysterically suggest it will in the hundreds?

  • Anonymous

    Eliminate coal and you will see a new standard in suffering set.

  • Anonymous

    This has to be one of the dumbest articles that I have ever read. When will National Palestinian Radio finally accept that climate change is cyclic and has nothing to do with humans. A study recently released now shows global cooling. Get off this stupid soapbox about climate change. Islamists are nuts. That is the reason for these wars.

  • objectivefactsmatter

    It can’t be about Islamic supremacism, that’s for sure. Right Bill?

    The Religion of Peace.

  • jelun

    Um, how much vitriol do we have to see in the comments over a question? The article poses a question, folks.
    Do none of you understand how science works? Have a question, seek an answer, it is as simple as that.
    This is one proposal.

  • Anonymous

    I understand jelun, except I’m one of those crazies who doesn’t and never has believed in Global warming. seems there are many many scientist who are with me.

  • William James Ward

    Climate change to many people is another form of astrology. The author
    equates drought to climate change, this has about the same possibility
    as and asteroid viewed from Earth at about a billion miles away causing
    draught in Nutley New Jersey. The same asteroid at one billion plus 5
    milesaway moves the draught to Washington D. C. dehydrating the
    political brainsof all there which then forms cerebral sawdust pouring
    from the ears whichruins the day of skate boarders. Everything we do
    is connected andthe left which is about one billion miles in the
    stratosphere take us forunintelligent asteroids that can be maneuvered
    to buy their stardust,or sawdust depending on the mileage and mileage
    is going to be the nextuseful ruse to control everyone’s lives. Speed of
    travel, distance, painton vehicle and clothing and you may be in a serious
    danger zone, whilecontinuing to read articles on climate change is nothing
    short of beingin the twilight zone………………………William

  • Anonymous

    The drought disrupted the society or a significant part of it; Syrian govt could not or would not take action to help their people. This led to massive dissatisfaction to uproar to uprising. Dumbo Assad wouldn’t or couldm’t ask for outside help so pot boils over.

    Only thing he can think of to do with a natural disaster is to beat up his own people. Consider the possibilities if seriously sustained drought or floods, whatever disrupt civil society. California’s central valley has experienced truly biblical storms from a atmospheric river of water vapor. Mid 1600 & mid 1800s there were storms that left the entire central valley under 10 feet of water or more. They are referred to as a Pineapple Express – they occur in the pacific NW also: same water vapor river which carries vapor equivalent to 11 Mississippi River. Sacramento had to evacuate the govt to SF for a period of time. When it happens again, how will people respond when it is millions.

    Think millions displaced, everything gone, no place to live really and guns. Scary and we are a rich country with lots of resources to work with.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Elizabeth-ONan/634508548 Elizabeth O’Nan

    The US should fight the war in Syria with food subsidies and stoping petroleum subsidies, by encouraging alternative clean energy. It is our waste and poor energy decisons that have brought agricultural disaster to Syria. Let’s help not bomb them more.

  • Joe Bastardi

    The only average 10 inches of rain a year. This is total distortion. It is an arid climate . Here read yourself 252 mm is about 10 inches.

    http://www.tradingeconomics.com/syria/average-precipitation-in-depth-mm-per-year-wb-data.html

    The core of the dryness has been in the northeast part of the nation, but is much more widespread across Turkey. So how come no revolt there. Also its dry in more of Iraq, but dry is relative. These are naturally arid climates.

    Here is the precip over the period you talked about. Much of Syria is within normal range

    http://1.usa.gov/14EnsTI.

  • Anonymous

    Bingo Bastardi! Great refutation.

  • Lori Pursley Butterfield

    Well, Roy Jones, the same type drought and drought-related problems have plagued the mid-section of America for several years now. Yet, I do not have the urge to run into the middle of the street screaming, chanting, and waving my arms in the air. That appears to be a cultural reaction in that region of the world.

    I’m happy, run into the street, I’m angry run into the street, hungry…you get the idea. And don’t forget to fire off a few rounds from your “assault weapon” just for good measure.

    My point being that drought is not needed to start a war here. It is thick with terrorists and power-hungry men just waiting for the right moment to use the biggest, baddest weapon they can get their hands on to kill as many people as possible. Remember, IF they are extremists, they believe it will get them more virgins in heaven.

    As you said, climate change or normal meterological fluctuations, they have had a drought. The difference is how they react to it.

  • Edward Kirby

    Not necessarily, Tremoloking.

    First off, Assad is a former Soviet client — with a lot of support from currently coming form Iran — and is not generally considered a petrostate.

    Secondly, as Iraq, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have proven, removing the dictator more often than not actually increases the amount of civil unrest, war and fundamentalism.

  • JonThomas

    Imagine the rumors…”The Government is buying up, and hoarding all the ammunition…errr-I mean water, yeah the water.”…”The Chinese and Russians are not here as UN forces to keep the peace, they are here to take over….” “Not until you pry them from my cold desiccated hands”…”[P]raise the flag and pass the ammunition, oh, and the aloe vera please, I have succhhh a chaff…”

    It will begin to get interesting when the western states’ aquifers have been drained.

    Ahhh….those conspiracy theorists’ prophetic self-fulling dystopian wet dreams…the stuff reality is made of, well kinda…

    I want the book and movie rights. maybe I could play the crazy…’I told you so’ guy.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Edward, these folks should read Tropic of Chaos, by Christian Parenti. It doesn’t attempt to systematically prove unrest and violence are triggered and worsened by climate catastrophe, it more or less assumes people of intelligence and integrity will already know that’s true or at least strongly suspect it. As it should; anyone who knows history recognizes the truth of this. Try also: Collapse, by Jared Diamond.

  • GulfPundit

    A desert country had a drought? Why, it’s unprecedented!!

    “Obviously, arctic melt is going to affect the movement of goods”

    But it’s not melting! Oh noooooooooo!

  • GulfPundit

    Contrary to popular belief, there are stupid questions.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, when I was a kid the population of the world was 7 people and no one talked about water shortages or peak oil. Then we had beany babies and it’s all been going to hell since. Obviously, we just need to get rid of beany babies and everything will be hunky dory. If God wanted there to be beany babies s/he/it would have put some in the Garden of Eden to go forth and multiply.

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely true, and yet, as they say in the bicycle world, out of round….

    Eliminating population growth would make many of our real problems easier to solve, though it would require huge adjustments in our economic system. Slowly reducing population itself after that would also be good. We can do both of those by following a progressive agenda in the US and everywhere else, because the elements of that are what work to reduce population growth: equality, empowerment, education (especially for women) and security (in old age, sickness and hard times) and free access to contraceptives and all family planning services.

    Elect a Green; solve our problems.

    However…..

    There is enough grain grown in the world now to feed everyone on Earth 3600 Calories/day, more than enough. That doesn’t include beans, fruits, nuts, vegetables, mushrooms, or homemade ginger brew. If we dramatically cut our meat consumption, and only ate meat that enhanced rather than degraded the land, we could feed 2.5 billion more. Organic permaculture can yield 20% more than industrial chemical monocrops and edible forest gardens have potential significantly higher than that. So until we reach at least 13 or 14 billion, population is not the problem as far as food goes. And we are not going to reach that. Population growth is near zero in the developed world and slowing everywhere else. in 10 years, half the countries in the world will be at replacement rate. We could speed that pretty cheaply and easily but conservatives choose not to.

    Speaking of which, where does the food go? 40% of it is wasted, at least in the US. Most of the grain grown in, by and for the US goes into cows who become fast food. (a major cause of deforestation in the Amazon and other places and a major health problem, especially for the poor). And a lot of land is used to grow luxury crops and industrial feedstocks. An increasing amount of land is used to grow crops for biofuels even though when grown industrially those crops (like corn for ethanol) yield only about as much energy as goes into them–or even less.

    Water is wasted the same way; most of the water we use is used by wasteful agriculture growing locally inappropriate crops and feed for cows, it’s used by industries in wasteful ways for trivial, unneeded and destructive products (throwaway electronics, for example, and war). Locally, large amounts are used and degraded by coal burning and nuclear reactors, an increasing problem not just for those reactors, which sometimes have to be shut down for lack of cooling water, but for the people around them. In a world without enough water to waste the way we have been, we have to choose everything carefully. The same is true of every other resource, ecosystem and being on Earth.

    7% of the people on Earth cause half the greenhouse gas emissions; that’s not only a problem itself but an indication of their general damage, to the biosphere that keeps us alive. The problem is not population; it’s the extravagance of a very few rich people, including most of us.

  • Anonymous

    It will all sort out as a world without ice, with dust bowl conditions over a third to half the surface, sea level rise wiping out most large cities, storms wiping out others, fires devastating the interior of continents, no edible fish in the sea, all forests dead, millions of species extinct, the collapse of civilization within a century or 2 at the most, and eventually, the extinction of humans and as much as 90% of all species. Perhaps, given our propensity to fight over declining resources and the number of nuclear weapons we have, we will destabilize and destroy the system by which life on Earth keeps itself alive–that cybernetic system we’ve recently come to call Gaia. That will be the end of life on Earth. We don’t know that will happen; we don’t know it won’t. What we do know is that it won’t be “interesting”; it will be horrific.

    It’s clearly already started; probably in our lifetimes it will be unbearable for billions and will continue to get worse if we don’t stop it now. RFN. We do that by: stopping the burning of fossil fuels; switching to efficiency, wind, solar, other small renewables; reforesting the world; transforming agriculture to local, low-meat organic permaculture; benign biomimicry as the essence of post-industrial production; changing our lives to finally fit ecological reality…

    Read the science.

  • Edward Kirby

    LOL, I’m reading Diamond’s book right now. I just started actually. I’ve read a number of articles by and about him for a while now, so I figured it was time to read the book.

  • Anonymous

    If it’s not too late, I’d recommend reading Guns, Germs and Steel first, although it won’t ruin anything to read it after. It just gives a more logical and historical perspective to read about past formation of societies and their interactions, then read about their collapse. And GGS is a superb and brilliant book in its own right. MacNeil’s Plagues and People(s?) is similar and excellent.

  • Anonymous

    Efficiency, wind and solar with small amounts of other locally-important renewables are the energy of the future. And the energy of the now, growing at 30% a year. It needs to be 120% a year to avoid catastrophe and we need to stop burning things for fuel asap. Sooner. The good news is, all of that is perfectly doable.

  • Edward Kirby

    I saw the series on GGS, and thought it was pretty good. The scene in Zambia was especially touching. I’m beginning to gather that about Collapse (nothing new there), but I like the way he puts it.

    Thx for the icon hug.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry Ann but there is a very very very small almost non existent group of scientists that are with you.

  • Michael Diaz

    You should change the name from “Connecting the Dots” to (SWAG) Silly Wild A$$ Guess, because that’s all this segment is about. Emphasis on the Silly by the way. Civil war in Syria has nothing to do with the lack of water and everything to do with the people tired of a repressive regime. Those people are used to living in heat with little to no water, but they’re tired of living in fear of a dictator.

  • Anonymous

    And your expertise in the matter is what, exactly? Since you offer nothing but assertion to back your assertion, I assume you must have some special knowledge… Yes?

    Some things have more than one cause. In fact there has only been one thing in the history of the universe with only one cause; everything else has multiple, even thousands of causes, enabling conditions, proximate and ultimate causes, triggers, forcings and inhibitions.

  • Edward Kirby

    The USSR was an oil-exporting power; why would oil enter into the equation of their support of Syria? Their support of Syria then — and Russia’s support now — is based on arms sales more than anything.

    The rest of your comments are agreeable, with the possible exception of noting that the US is becoming energy independent of late, and that oil production is less and less of an reason for getting involved in the Mideast. Our relationship with Israel, OTOH, will probably continue to be a factor in our interests there. Also remember that France and Turkey are both very hawkish on this issue, and they are both allies of the US. So simply from that perspective, we may get involved whether we want to or not.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Greenhearted for insisting on using consistent designations for these “regimes”. I would also like the agricultural sector hybris also treated on a level playing field … when the USSR used extensive irrigation to promote agriculture , like the Syrians, and mess resulted … it is the fault of “communism”, “corruption in Assad” regime. When we have done it in the USA or Canada and created dust bowls, or emptied aquifers … capitalism and its disregard for the carrying capacity of an eco-system not named.

  • Michael Diaz

    Are you insane? Are you really buying into the “Global Warming Caused a Revolution” madness? Can we just randomly assign blame to global warming for everything with only the slightest link? This is like a conspiracy theorist on overdrive. All I have to do is say I believe global warming caused and fill it in with my own asinine statement, show some randomly connected cause & effect and poof I’ve got my own conspiracy.

    Fact: The middle east has been at war for much longer than I’ve even been alive. I’m 42 by the way.

    Fact: The governments tend to lean towards theocratic dictatorships where the answer to just about every crime is death. Woman got raped, stone her if she doesn’t have 3 witnesses. Little girl trying to go to school, shoot her. Choose a new religion, get stoned. There is no freedom in places like this.

    Fact: A human, or group of humans, will only allow themselves to be enslaved, degraded, downtrodden for so long before they revolt. Look to the slave wars in Rome, the French Revolution, the American Revolution… People get tired of having a ruthless dictator run their lives.

    Science is not about massaging the outcome to fit the cause you want, that’s business statistics. It’s about repeated testing and facts. Every time I do A I get B. I’ve tested it several times and it ALWAYS does that. That’s logical, that’s scientific. Everything else is theory, and what this site put up isn’t even a clearly thought through theory. It’s just random blame assigned to the current culprit for all of the world’s woes.

  • Anonymous

    Are you serious? This article is about how climate change adversely affects global and regional stability. It has been said that people will fight for oil, but they will kill for water. You had better believe it

    And, the issue is hardly limited to the Middle East – in recent years we have had heated rhetoric between Georgia and Tennessee over water flow in the Chattahoochee River that supplies Atlanta’s drinking water, as well as between Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and California over water drawdowns from the Colorado River to provide drinking, commercial and industrial water for Los Angeles and Las Vegas and agriculture in Colorado and California.

    To make that last example even worse. Mexico (Baja California) has received almost zero fresh water from the Colorado River for over 50 years in clear violation of the International treaty between the US and Mexico. Now, we are seeing the same thing in the Rio Grande between Texas and Mexico because the Mexicans are withholding water in Lake Conchos instead of sending it down Rio Conchos to the Rio Grande through Big Bend and on down to the Lower Rio Grande Valley where a significant portion of US fruits and vegetables are produced to feed the US, Mexico and the rest of the world.

    This issue is NOT directly related to a US strike against Syria, though that could be an unintended consequence if a war that starts over a lack of water spills out into a more generalized conflict over ideology.

    Try reading the book titled “Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource” by Marc de Villiers. It will open your eyes. de Villiers predicts that World War III will be fought over water rights, and it is very probable that he is correct. People will fight for oil, but they will kill for water because there is absolutely NO substitute for survival of all living things on this planet.

  • Anonymous

    Dams do not directly cause droughts. Climate change causes droughts. Dams can play a long-term role by depleting water supplies downstream, but the lack of local rainfall caused by climate change is a much more contributing factor.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously, your lack of knowledge about how people react when they do not have adequate food, which is usually caused by have an inadequate water supply, leads you to make assumptions that an educated person would never make. If people have food and water they will tolerate quite a lot. The people of Germany did not turn against Hitler until bombs started falling on their cities.

    Take away an ample supply of food and water from people and they will start to kill others to get what they need to survive. It is a natural instinct that man pursued until he learned about agricultural production and water management so that everybody had an opportunity to eat and drink adequately.

  • Anonymous

    Ann, there may be many scientists who agree with you, but there are VERY FEW, if any, CLIMATE scientists who agree with you!

  • Anonymous

    Let’s see what you do when your kids don’t have food to eat or water to drink. You will be killing people to provide for your kids. If you say it is not true, then you are an unfit mother!

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps you need to read the recently released report by NOAA and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University which states that a megadrought lasting 75-200 years is coming to the southwestern United States in just 8 years, and that it will turn everything from California to Texas into something resembling the Great Sands National Monument. It will devastate a major portion of the US agricultural belt resulting in major global food shortages, skyrocketing food prices and probably civil wars everywhere as people scramble for enough food to keep themselves and their families alive.

    I just hope that when it happens those so dense as to deny its inevitability will do the rest of us a favor by offing themselves rather than competing with the rest of us for what meager amount of food is available.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, and read Tropic of Chaos by Christian Parenti, all about climate change and violence. Kashmir is a perfect example of wars fought over water. (and other things too, but water is the big one there.) More droughts and floods are absolutely inevitable now; while we act to minimize climate catastrophe we also need to institutionalize ways to resolve disputes peacefully. One major way, and something that must happen if we expect civilization to survive, is for rich people and countries to give away enough of their wealth to make sure everyone else on Earth has enough to live fulfilling, productive and challenging lives.

  • Michael Diaz

    While I can agree that taking food, water and basic necessities from people can and will turn them against each other, I don’t agree that global warming is the reason for it. People in the Middle East have been fighting for generations for one reason or another. You’re correct in stating that people will tolerate quite a bit of tyranny before revolting, but again the assumption that global warming has anything to do with it is a stretch. The problem in quite a few of these regimes is that humanitarian aid never makes it down to the most needy and the food just stays with the ruling class. Again NOT a problem caused by global warming, just a typical greedy dictator doing what they do best.

  • Anonymous

    Wes-Scott,

    link please?? I seriously doubt there an article there that claims inevitability for a mega-drought lasting 75-200 years.

    My quick googling- I find a few articles like the older one below. It is quite circumspect.

    In any case, future projections are modelling (hypotheses) that require data confirmation to be taken seriously. In science, the great majority of hypotheses turn out to be wrong.

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news-events/%E2%80%98killer%E2%80%99-southeast-drought-low-scale-says-study

  • Anonymous

    Yes, Wes, except there virtually no scientists of any kind who disagree with the science of climate catastrophe. There are lies out there that just won’t die, like the Oregon petition, x thousands of scientists, blah blah. All nonsense.

    The requirements to sign the OPet. were a Bachelors degree in any science or engineering field, so right off, maybe 90 or 95% of those who are counted are not actual scientists. Some people were signed up without knowing and have asked to be removed; no response from the petitioneers. Other fake names appear. In other words, only a minute fraction of a percent of the names on such lists are legitimate scientists disagreeing with anything. Further, even the large-sounding number (32,000) is less than 0.3% (three tenths of one percent) of the science graduates in the US. Since the methodology of the petition is not revealed (violating a basic tenet of real science) it’s impossible to say whether it’s even more bogus than these facts and numbers make it clear that it is.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/OISM-Petition-Project.htm

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/The-Oregon-Petition-How-Many-Scientists-Does-It-Take-To-Change-A-Consensus.html

    In any case, a poll can’t change the fact that the science shows what it shows. Climate catastrophe is real, happening, dangerous and needs to be responded to massively.

    Ann: Why would you allow yourself to be used by those who are willing to see billions of humans and uncountable other beings suffer and die horrifically in chaos and violence so that they can profit monetarily for a few more years? Why are you allowing yourself to be used by those who would and will throw you under the train as soon as it’s convenient for them to dispose of you? Please explain that, I just don’t understand.

  • Anonymous

    No. Yes, except not really, no. No.

    Fact: Bivalves called Forniculata, closely related to Jingle Shells, become male when they mature, then become female when another immature polyp lands on them and becomes male.

    Fact: The Luddite rebellion lasted for less than 2 years, was sporadic and unorganized, and was completely unsuccessful, but has inspired millions for centuries.

    Fact: True but out of round is a bicycle term meaning the wheel doesn’t wobble right to left but the rim isn’t completely round. it’s used metaphorically to mean something is literally true but misleading.

    Oh, sorry, I thought we were exchanging random irrelevant bits of useless trivia before making our completely unsupported assertions. Aren’t we?

  • Jim Osborne

    Not long ago our planet crossed an invisible, environmental marker, which so states, “Beyond this point lies only danger. Either reduce your population or pay the penalty. You have no other choices.”

  • Michael Diaz

    We are. The entire article is an unsupported assertion. The article attempts to shift blame from warring groups of fanatical Islamic sects to the currently en vogue culprit for all of the world’s woes of climate change.

    I don’t disagree that climate change is a real thing, I just don’t feel that ascribing blame to climate change without first factoring in other more relevant factors is correct.

    Sometimes the simplest answer is also the correct answer. The middle east is a hot bed of religious wars and infighting even within Islam. To dismiss that is tantamount to sticking your head in the sand and choosing to ignore the obvious.

    If you could suddenly relocate that entire region to a fertile, undamaged continent on another planet, with an abundance of food and water, you would have fighting within a week. The minute one discovers that the other does not subscribe to their flavor of Islam or is Jewish or a Christian, the gloves will come off and the AK’s will come out.

  • Anonymous

    I’m glad to hear you agree with a near-unanimous scientific community of hundreds of thousands of people.

    However, I’m mystified by how you think you can know for sure that people fight just because they fight, but know that the theory that people tend to fight more when their lives are threatened by increasing poverty and decreasing carrying capacity and they know they can get out of trouble with the use of guns, is just not so!

    It’s those damn A-rabs; they’re just violent people kind of explanations went out with, um, the Crusades. I guess it helps if you help yourself to some circular reasoning, though: I KNOW climate change ain’t doin it because the “more relevant” reasons are doin it, and the way I know they’re more relevant is that I know climate change ain’t doin it so they MUST be.

    Unless you come up with some citations showing evidence that your apparently wishful-thinking denials have some basis in fact, I’m going to go with sense, reason, thousands of years of experience and history, and the non-racist answer and say yes, climate catastrophe IS indeed a contributing factor, maybe even a major, THE major, or the triggering factor in conflicts that are going on right now and will almost certainly accelerate. I’m going to go with most people here.

    To think that people facing an increasing threat of starvation will do nothing when armed theft and murder is seen as a way out is choosing to ignore the obvious. Read Christian Parenti, Tropic of Chaos, for an investigation into the various factors contributing. It makes it quite obvious that what common sense tells us is actually true: in many situations, people respond to climate catastrophe by turning to violence. Take a look at the US–decreasing EROEI and even the idea of decreasing control of the world’s oil at some point years off has led to… how many invasions, now? Even when there were perfectly sensible peaceful and economic solutions available… a ridiculously flimsy excuse–rather, a series of flimsy, blatant and obvious lies was used to justify killing several million people and maiming and displacing and traumatizing vast numbers beyond that.

    How much more likely is it when the problem is immediate, day-to-day and there is no other way out except to accede to one’s own death and the death of one’s family and community? Speaking of ridiculous and flimsy… I’ve said many times in various posts that “Denying Delayalist” is a more accurate description that simple “Denialist” because denial is just one emotional response and one conscious tactic. The goal is to serve the fear and inner repression, or to serve the delay of effective action to stop climate catastrophe, and this reaction–yeah, it’s happening, but it’s not causing this particular problem, so no worries is just the next line in the multiple lines of defense for the ideological delayalist.

    I’m so tired of arguing with people who just utterly refuse to see what’s perfectly clear because it interferes with their ideology and causes guilt about their extravagant life, and because their conservative tendencies retard their ability to see connections. Especially when it results in the projections of racism and the blocking of effective action to solve our real problems. Read the book; read the news; read some history.

  • Michael Diaz

    Don’t for one minute believe me to be a racist. Conservative? Yes, but I am also a free mind able to think on my own. I don’t look to others for my beliefs. I read and apply logic to the world around me. I am a software developer by trade and separating myself from logical, pragmatic thinking is almost impossible for me to do.

    That is why I cannot ascribe to the notion that this is anything more than what it is. It has nothing to do with “damn Arabs” and everything to do with religious fundamentalists who believe their way is the only way, and their way will be imposed at the end of whichever scary weapon they can control. I believe our President is making a huge mistake involving us in yet another pointless conflict. The people are revolting because Assad is evil, but a percentage of that liberation force is also al qaeda, and if given power they will do what they have always done which is to repress the people even more and kill anyone who doesn’t subscribe to their version of Islam.

    This is not racism, this is fact. There are factions in that region that have been warring since the time of Mohammed because they each believe the other to be wrong. This is a religious and ideological war, not a war of resources. This is a means to wipe out one dictator and replace him with a faction.

  • Anonymous

    Every racist who ever lived believed their racism to be founded on fact; if they didn’t they wouldn’t be able to maintain the projections. In fact, racism IS projection and falsely believing certain facts to be true of others instead of being part of oneself is exactly what racism consists of. I can’t say for sure if you’re a “racist”, as if that’s a yes or no question. I can only see that your arguments in this case—circular*, full of inaccurate stereotypes and unfounded assumptions, refusing to admit other simple facts and realities—is so similar if not identical from a racist argument that I for one can’t tell any difference.

    Often, the more vehemently people embed themselves in supposedly pure logic and claim to be acting out of logic, the more it is because they’re unaware of their emotions. Again, I can’t say for sure that this is true of you but since you claim your arguments are based on logic when they’re actually based on falsehoods, stereotypes, assumptions and assertions, I’m leaning pretty strongly toward the yes end of that one, too.

    If you replace “religious” with “free-market” then “religious fundamentalists who believe their way is the only way, and their way will be imposed at the end of whichever scary weapon they can control.” is more true of the US than any country or group I can think of. Clearly the government of the US is evil and is responsible for far more death and destruction than any other evil empire in history. Why don’t the people here revolt?

    “The people are revolting because Assad is evil”… If Assad is evil now, Assad was evil 5 years ago and evil 8 years ago, and evil 13 years ago when he took over. Why didn’t they revolt then? There are evil dictators and regimes many places in the world; some last for decades or longer. Why don’t their people revolt? When the people do revolt after decades, why are they doing it then but didn’t do it before? Could it be because there are other factors, including ecological and climatic ones?

    * ”That is why I cannot ascribe to the notion that this is
    anything more than what it is.”

  • Michael Diaz

    Beautiful. When faced with a logical explanation the average liberal turns to the de facto weapons of choice, decrying racism, xenophobia, ignorance… You’re right you don’t know me. And you should keep in mind what happens when you assume.

    I have no problems with people of other colors, races or religions. I was raised in a poor, predominantly black and Latino neighborhood. I have family members that encompass the spectrum from white, black to Asian. My problems aren’t racial in nature, they’re based on observation.

    Why didn’t people revolt at first? Who knows. People can deal with quite a bit before they get angry and take to the streets. Old Castro has been killing people for decades and no one has decided they’ve had enough. Russia went on hungry and broke for even longer before the government changed. This war, these rebels are religious zealots who are constantly fighting over, not food, not land but the interpretation of the Koran.

    They slaughter each other by the thousands over who holds the correct belief. You can’t stop something like that with a great crop, or adequate rainfall. It’s not racist to state the obvious, which even they own up to. That’s like calling me racist for saying most Latinos like rice and beans. I’m Latino, I would know, we do.

    What you’re doing is willful ignorance. You see them fighting over religion, hear them say they will wipe the opposing religions off the map and still choose to believe there must be an underlying reason, because that can’t be right. Honestly, I get more common sense out of my puppy, and I don’t feel like I’ve wasted my time afterward. So let’s just agree to disagree. You go on believing the world is full of shiny happy people holding hands just aching to be good, and I’ll continue to believe that true evil exists.

  • Anonymous

    “My problems aren’t racial in nature, they’re based on observation.”

    If you had read my post and observed instead of assuming you would have noticed I didn’t assume. I noted some very common tendencies and specifically said, twice, that I didn’t know about you, (although the evidence was piling up.) Here as with everywhere else in your posts you need to observe better and deeper–to look under the surface. I suggest you go back and read mine again; maybe you can correct the absurd misinterpretations and flimsy and ridiculous straw person arguments you’ve constructed. Get back to us when you understand better.

    Just saying you don’t stereotype African-Americans or Latinos means little to us; especially when the question is whether some of your attitudes about Islamic people are racist or not–either in (unconscious) intent or effect. “They slaughter each other…” [italics mine] The evidence continues to mount.

    “Why didn’t people revolt at first? Who knows.”

    Who knows? People who understand psychology is who knows. They know, for example, as I’ve tried to explain several times now, that what people fight about is hardly ever what they think they’re fighting about. They understand that unconscious emotional motivations having a lot to do with people’s childhoods get repressed and shunted aside and projected onto other people, beings and objects. Then the projectors behave as if those things actually exist in the world. Often they even behave in ways that make those things exist where they didn’t before. That’s called projective identification or “dreaming up” (Arnold Mindell) We all do these things, at least until, recognizing the power our unconscious motivations have over us, do the work to make them conscious and give ourselves other choices.

    Since I specifically said “Clearly the government of the US is evil” and “There are evil dictators and regimes many places in the world” it’s hard to understand how you could say you continue to believe in evil, obviously implying I don’t. Except, again, poor observation and assumptions, projections and preconceptions on your part. Or maybe just simple lies.

    I don’t know.

    Continuing is pointless; it seems you have nothing to offer except lies and unconsciousness, and we can get those anywhere.

  • Anonymous

    Global warming causes war and suffering, and if you don’t believe that you’re a racist. QED.

    The distillation of leftist theory and policy. Has it ever crossed your mind that you’re a tool of all the evil and corrupted philosophies that are slithering, creeping, crawling and wiggling across the face of the earth today? Free your mind man! The human race needs every thinking person it can muster right now.

  • Jim Young

    I’m wondering how many Syrians, or people who have worked there (on water projects), you know?

  • Anonymous

    No. Has it crossed yours? Your misinterpretation of my post is beginning to seem typical of right wing racists defending each other. Read my post and see what I actually said, as opposed to the bizarre imaginary version of what somebody may have said somewhere at some time that you and Michael seem to be talking about.

  • Anonymous

    Who says climate catastrophe doesn’t cause more violence?

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/09/13/2617981/climate-change-bears-humans/

  • Anonymous

    The richest few percent of the world’s humans have such an enormous outsized impact on the biosphere that mere numbers of people is not even close to being the main problem.
    The rate of population growth has halved since it peaked in the 60s and is still slowing. The poorest half of the world’s people, the only place any significant population growth is still happening, causes 7% of the greenhouse gas emissions combined. Especially since we have to reduce GHG emissions about 90% in the next 5-20 years if we expect civilization to survive the next 100+, changing population growth won’t have much of an effect in time to matter. We should work on it to help us solve our other problems and make this one a little easier, but to survive we have to make our priority to stop the extravagance of the rich and reduce its effects by going solar, wind, and efficiency.

  • Anonymous

    There’s no way us racist deniers can overcome an intellect like yours. Thanks, I’ll move on now.

  • Jim Osborne

    I believe, by the year 2050, 10 billion humans will stress our planet’s resources such as to create chaos. I am referring to the maladies of pollution, food, fuel, bad weather, disease and constant war. If you believe technology can override population stress, then so be it. I believe otherwise.

  • Anonymous

    Did Climate change also turn the rebels into cannibals? I hope it rains more so there will be more peace and better leaders, and less greed..
    Seriously, who approves these articles?

  • moderator

    You have made your points clearly. Please move on.

    Thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • moderator

    You have made your points quite clearly. Please move on.

    Thanks,
    Sean @ Moyers

  • Anonymous

    We agree we need to curb the rich. Essentially we need to have no rich, however that has to happen. Personally, I really hope it’s peaceful; war is the most carbon-intensive thing we do and can destroy us if we unleash those dogs.

    But I’m not saying technology can override population stress, I’m saying population stress is not the problem. It is slowing so fast by the time it becomes a serious threat to our existence 2 things will have happened: population growth will have stabilized (it is mostly sustained now by demographic inertia despite falling birth rates) and if we haven’t solved it, climate chaos will have destroyed us and population will crash, along with millions of other species. Our psychological affliction is the problem, although we don’t have to completely cure it to survive our immediate crisis.

    I don’t think the rich are significantly more insane than most of the rest of us. Only a very very few escape the damage done by civilization because they chose remarkable parents, and a few more who have done the work to begin to heal, are not quite as afflicted. But restoring our species to full health will take many generations, each new cohort of children teaching their parents how to be a little better than their parents were, as Harlow’s monkey children taught their mothers how to recover from Harlow’s experiments (mother deprivation with only a choice between cloth-covered wire monkey mothers and wire-mesh-with-milk mothers). We’ve started the absolutely crucial reconnecting-with-nature part of that healing by beginning our switch from fossil fuels to renewables, responding more to the rhythms of nature, and using manna energy instead of whim

    Pollution, food, fuel, war, and more… all are problems caused overwhelmingly by the rich. We have plenty of food and other resources, enough even to supply the needs of11 billion–if we were all equal and had fair access to land and resources.

    Our main problem is now climate catastrophe, It’s also caused overwhelmingly by a very tiny number of rich people, including most of us, and it’s already causing crop failures, droughts and floods (often droughts punctuated by massive floods because the damaged and denuded dry landscape can’t hold the increasingly erratic rains), storms, fires, pest and disease vector spread, heat waves (30.000 killed in Europe in 3003), sea level rise, and more. All those are inevitably going to get much worse very soon, but we can stop the worst if we in the rich world massively change the way we live, and do whatever we need to to help the poor power their much better lives with renewables and low-meat local organic permaculture. We can resequester the carbon released by the industrial era by increasing the organic (aka carbon) content of soils with global reforestation and organic agriculture.

    Finally, read Tropic of Chaos by Christian Parenti to see how consumption-caused climate catastrophe is actually responsible for most of what you blame on population. We know what the solutions to that are, and btw, many of them are the same as the solutions to population growth among the poor, which is the only place it’s happening any more: equality, security, sufficient, full, fulfilling and challenging lives, emphasis on education and wisdom rather than consumption, renewable energy, biomimicing benign post-industrial production, reforestation and low-meat local organic permaculture including edible food forests.

  • Anonymous

    As bad as climate change is we will be far more impacted by the culprit, the end of cheep energy. Capitalism is fueled by cheep energy and once it begins its death throws the world will be a chaotic free for all.

  • Jim Osborne

    Given all the possible futures it is hard to predict our fate. Granted my predictions are darker than some, but I am satisfied to believe mankind will do ever more poorly. I base my belief in the future on greed and poor leadership– improve those two human characteristics and mankind would easily flourish.

  • Anonymous

    I keep saying things I think are pretty straightforward and you seem to keep bending them off to the side as we’re in a game of telephone. Such is the power of preconceptions and projections.
    With some supporters of violence it’s that they see a dichotomy and the only things that exist are fighting and surrender. No matter what one says–or even proves–about the effectiveness of peaceful action, they have a roar going on in their ears and hear nothing coming through except violence and surrender, violence and surrender. If it doesn’t involve violence to them, it can’t win because the only other thing they recognize as existing, is surrender. Meat-defensive people and climate denying delayalists have similar hearing problems, and some PIPPs, Pop. Is the Problem People, are at least as bad. No matter what I say, if it doesn’t echo their unshakeable belief that Population Growth is Going to Destroy Us, THEY CANNOT HEAR IT.

    I say population is not the problem and it seems the only thing you hear is there is no problem because you know for certain that population is it and there is no other problem, and if I’m saying it’s not the problem I can only be saying there isn’t any problem. So you assume I think technology is going to save us from the population problem, which is the only problem there is, because it’s the only problem there can be because it’s the problem. So I say the consumption of the rich is the problem, and you answer with “granted, my predictions are darker than some”…

    I’m sorry, I have no idea what to say. If we were face to face I’d know what to do–go deeper and find the reasons for the unbridgeable gap in reasoning and deal with them. That can’t work on the internet. So I believe I’ll just stop.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think this article
    was citing climate change as THE cause of the Syrian conflict, but rather
    suggesting that it’s likely serving as fuel to the already existing fire. Or
    using their own words above: “We still have yet to disentangle the line from climate and
    drought, to displacement, to conflict. We’re not making any causal claims about
    climate change causing conflict, but it certainly is what the security
    community calls a ‘threat multiplier.’ It makes other threats to human security
    worse, and in this case we see it fast at hand.”

  • Anonymous

    Drought? So nothing to do with the exploding birthrate and tripling of the population in the last half-century?

    Read Jared Diamond ‘Collapse’ before scapegoating drought.