A new study on the Arab Spring and Climate Change, finds evidence to suggest that it was not merely a coincidence that the Syrian revolution began just as the entire country was still struggling to survive after the worst drought ever recorded.
Between 2006 and 2011 nearly 60% of Syria experienced the worst drought ever, turning much of the country’s farmland into barren dust bowls, and resulting in a series of severe crop failures.
Due to the devastating drought and subsequent lack of food and water in rural areas hundreds of thousands fled to the cities, where existing problems were only exacerbated by the influx of new mouths to feed.
As water became scarcer some farmers turned to groundwater supplies to continue to grow their crops, but this then caused ground water levels around the country to plummet, compounding the effects of the drought. (Related article: Syria Chemical Attack Raises Sinister Questions)
The water and food shortages then led to unrest and anger amongst the populace which eventually culminated in a revolution in 2011.
Since that time the conflict has created one million refugees, left more than 70,000 dead, and cost billions in destroyed homes, businesses, and livelihoods.
Syria is not the only country that has been badly affected by climate change.
A lack of rain in Libya led Moammar Gadhafi to develop an elaborate irrigation system to pump water from the Nubian Sandstone Aquifer System, water which has been stored there since the last ice age 40,000 years ago. The problem is that Egypt, Chad, and Sudan all share the water, so as it depletes tensions are bound to rise.