Climate Change and Civil War

Climate Change Hastened Syria’s Civil War – Scientific American.

Climate change can make storms stronger, cold spells longer and water supplies drier. But can it cause war? A new study published today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences says drought in Syria, exacerbated to record levels by global warming, pushed social unrest in that nation across a line into an open uprising in 2011. The conflict has since become a major civil war with international involvement.

More severe droughts are on the way, according to climatologists.  Although the US is a pretty stable place, what will happen when the water runs out in the west?

Drying and drought in Syria from 2006 to 2011—the worst on record there—destroyed agriculture, causing many farm families to migrate to cities. The influx added to social stresses already created by refugees pouring in from the war in Iraq [.]

Will we see “water wars”?

Although civil unrest is far less likely there, tension is indeed growing between political leaders in northern and southern California over who gets the increasingly scarce water from rivers, underground aquifers and snow melt, all of which are declining.

What about locally?  Electro Purification has met with a lot of protests from local residents as they drill in an unregulated portion of the Trinity aquifer.  What will happen when the neighbors’ pumps run dry?

Climate Change Hastened Syria's Civil War - Scientific American

3 Years and Counting

As of today, 2.5 million Syrians have registered as refugees in neighboring countries or are awaiting registration. Another 6.5 million Syrians are displaced inside the country. That means that about 40% of the entire pre-conflict population of Syria has been displaced.

via A Shocking Statistic About Syrian Refugees in Lebanon | UN DispatchUN Dispatch.

Over 9 million people displaced.   That’s like everybody in Texas who lives west of Dallas and Houston having to move, and living in a tent somewhere.

In Lebanon alone, the number of registered refugees from Syria is approaching 1 million and could grow to 1.6 million at the end of 2014 if current trends continue. Lebanon already has the highest per capita concentration of refugees of any country in recent history, with nearly 230 registered Syrian refugees for every 1,000 Lebanese. That is more than 70 times as many refugees per inhabitants as in France, and 280 times as many as in the United States. The number of registered Syrian refugees hosted in Lebanon would be equivalent to nearly 19 million refugees in Germany and over 73 million in the United States.

See more at:

A Shocking Statistic About Syrian Refugees in Lebanon | UN DispatchUN Dispatch

The Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War | Stratfor

The Geopolitics of the Syrian Civil War | Stratfor.

The Geneva conference has had discouraging beginnings.  Iran was invited, but is now out at the insistence of the rebels.

The inability to agree upon even who would be attending the negotiations is an inauspicious sign for a diplomatic effort that was never likely to prove very fruitful.

The mountain and desert terrain provided natural barriers that allowed different groups to develop in isolation.  Prior to the Sykes-Picot Agreement Syria was never a country for more than a few years, and the modern nation is far from a cohesive state.

Unlike the Nile Valley, Syria’s geography lacks a strong, natural binding element to overcome its internal fissures.

Without a reason to agree, the Assad regime and the various rebels groups will continue to fight.

The Syrian state will neither fragment and formalize into sectarian statelets nor reunify into a single nation under a political settlement imposed by a conference in Geneva. A mosaic of clan loyalties and the imperative to keep Damascus linked to its coastline and economic heartland — no matter what type of regime is in power in Syria — will hold this seething borderland together, however tenuously.

The Power of Polio

Syria’s Polio Outbreak Is a Reminder of the Disease’s Power.

Polio has returned to Syria, which had been free of the potentially paralyzing and at times fatal disease since 1999. “There are ten cases confirmed right now in the Deir Al Zour province” in northeast Syria and 12 more suspected cases, says Oliver Rosenbauer, spokesman for the World Health Organization’s Global Polio Eradication Initiative.

The cases are mostly in young children, but the threat remains for anyone who is unvaccinated.  Because of the civil war, that could potentially be a lot of people.  Polio is endemic in only 3 countries – Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Nigeria, and the number of cases worldwide has dropped dramatically since 1988.

But all is not well, as

 this year’s spring outbreaks in previously polio-free Somalia and Kenya reminded us. In addition, the discovery of sewage samples containing poliovirus in Israel has led to a countrywide campaign to offer oral polio vaccines to children between the ages of four months and nine years, as a precaution.

With large numbers of refugees moving around the Middle East, the potential for problems is high.  How will vaccines be provided for all the people who need them?  Who will deliver the medicines?  In the 3 countries where it is endemic there is high distrust of the vaccine.  Many uneducated people think it is a plot to either cause women to be infertile, or give people a disease.  Much needs to be done to complete the task of eradicating polio, like we have done with smallpox.

What the heck is Syria?


9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask

9 questions about Syria you were too embarrassed to ask.

You should read the whole article (its pretty short), and it explains the conflict.


Syria – Will We Help?

Protesters march in the northeastern town of Qamishli, as thousands turned out for protests in cities across Syria. (AFP/Getty Images / April 2, 2011)

via Syria unrest: 4 shot dead as thousands join protests across Syria –

Thousands of Syrians flooded the streets of several major cities Friday for a new round of antigovernment protests, defying security forces who used gunfire and tear gas to disperse them.

Four people were shot dead in Duma, a suburb of the capital, Damascus, when police fired on about 2,000 people gathered in a major square chanting “Freedom,” according to a witness who withheld his name out of concern for his safety.

Using Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, protesters organized the “Day of Martyrs” on Friday, to remember the more than 70 people killed during the recent unrest.

But President Bashar Assad, who heads one of the region’s most repressive regimes, redoubled efforts to suffocate the dissent, which has persisted since his forces first fired on protesters March 18 in Dara.

Dara, the center of the protest, has been hard-hit by rising food prices and lack of jobs.  This is on top of the general poor economy of Syria, where one third of the population exists on less than $2 per day.

The “President” spoke on TV Wednesday,  but declined to lift the 48 year old emergency law used to jail protesters without warrants or trials.

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