Monday, July 27, 2015

killer-ape antics rooted in food supply and resource security - religion and ideology are merely post hoc conversation...,

theatlantic |  A paper published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences specifically connects a severe drought across the Levant to the Syrian conflict.

The case isn’t a direct one. “Before the Syrian uprising that began in 2011, the greater Fertile Crescent experienced the most severe drought in the instrumental record,” the authors write, arguing that the drought is connected to a long-term change in the climate in the Eastern Mediterranean. “For Syria, a country marked by poor governance and unsustainable agricultural and environmental policies, the drought had a catalytic effect, contributing to political unrest.” ISIS existed in different form, as the Islamic State of Iraq, prior to the outbreak of the civil war, but the collapse of the Syrian state, combined with the fecklessness of the Iraqi armed forces and government, allowed the group to expand its reach and influence, and declare a caliphate.

Of course, scientists and security consultants get nervous when the media covers studies such as this one. They worry, in particular, about the impression that wars can be reduced to a single cause. (As one told The Guardian in May about the PNAS study, “I’ll put this in a crude way: No amount of climate change is going to cause civil violence in the state where I live (Massachusetts), or in Sweden or many other places around the world.”) Still, O’Malley did a pretty good job compressing the study’s findings into a short explanation and contextualizing it as creating the conditions for ISIS’s success, rather than drawing a direct causal link between climate change and the Islamic State.

It’s easy to see how the baldest summary of this claim—a presidential candidate says that global warming created a huge jihadist group!—comes across as silly. But the unfortunate reality is that climate change will likely produce more evidence in the years ahead of the connection between resource scarcity and war—whether it’s fodder for presidential campaigns or not.