It would take an act of deliberate disregard to ignore the refugee crisis. I can’t remember an instance of comparable prolonged media saturation since the death of Lady Di or the African famines of the eighties. How long since a news event so ignited the nation’s compassion? Bulletin after sobering bulletin framed around columns of displaced humanity and shocking individual tragedy.
Inevitably, worthy corespondents and commentators delve into origins and causes. Conflict in North Africa and the Middle East is as deep as most analysis has mined for explanations. The war in Syria. The failed state that was once Libya Jihadist atrocities convulsing the coastal nations of the Islamic Southern Mediterranean.
The Arab Spring, that eruption of popular protest which began in Tunisia in 2010, is where most of us park our understanding. It seemed at the time as if some of the Worlds most oppressed were finally shaking off decades of suppression and moving towards a value system closer our own. In the event, a beckoning democracy lured a number of the affected countries onto the rocks of civil conflict. But let’s look a little closer at the most catastrophic of those insurrections. Syria.
A destabilising factor which has largely been overlooked in Syria’s decent is a preceding drought. The country’s major food producing region, the north east, suffered crop failures brought about by drought conditions between 2006 and 2009.
Returning rains, far from relieving the problem, resulted in an outbreak of fungal disease. Its effect on Syria’s wheat crop was almost as destructive. (See the link)
Human-induced drying in many societies can push tensions over a threshold that provokes violent conflict
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It would be nothing short of simplistic to blame the war in Syria, and the resulting displacement of almost half its population, on climate change. But lower rainfall in the region was something predicted by climate science and those crop failures, along with the Assad regime’s failure to mitigate against them, are cited as a major contributing factor to the country’s destabilisation.
Our failure to get a grip on the way human activity is already changing the worlds weather seems to stem from a belief that these processes will not impact our green and pleasant prosperity any time soon. What’s befallen the people of Syria and driven desperate thousands to throw themselves on Europe’s mercy is telling us something different.