An unprecedented climate change-fueled drought contributed to the political unrest in Syria, a new paper published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences concludes.
The Syrian drought, which began in late 2006, dragged on for three years and was the worst on record. The researchers conclude that the drought worsened existing water security and agricultural woes, and prompted up to 1.5 million rural Syrians to migrate closer to urban areas. This migration helped spur demographic changes that fed instability in and around cities. In addition, the drought contributed to rising food prices and more nutrition-related diseases in children, which exacerbated the turmoil.
“Here’s a case where climate change has increased the risk of something happening,” said Cane. “That should factor into the way people think about the more immediate future.”