NRT: Climate change: The first climate war

Written By: - Date published: 3:10 pm, March 3rd, 2015 - 41 comments
Categories: climate change, global warming, science - Tags: , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

One of the predictions about climate change is that climate change-induced drought and famine will lead to more wars. Sadly, it turns out that what is happening in Syria is one of those wars:

Drawing one of the strongest links yet between global warming and human conflict, researchers said Monday that an extreme drought in Syria between 2006 and 2009 was most likely due to climate change, and that the drought was a factor in the violent uprising that began there in 2011.

The drought was the worst in the country in modern times, and in a study published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the scientists laid the blame for it on a century-long trend toward warmer and drier conditions in the Eastern Mediterranean, rather than on natural climate variability.

The researchers said this trend matched computer simulations of how the region responds to increases in greenhouse-gas emissions, and appeared to be due to two factors: a weakening of winds that bring moisture-laden air from the Mediterranean and hotter temperatures that cause more evaporation.

[…]

Dr. Kelley, who did the research while at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and is now at the University of California at Santa Barbara, said there was no apparent natural cause for the warming and drying trend, which developed over the last 100 years, when humans’ effect on climate has been greatest.

And ~200,000 people are now dead as a result.

Climate change isn’t a distant, abstract issue. Its here, and its killing people in unexpected ways. Great chunks of the world – some of them nuclear-armed – are exposed to massively higher risks of drought and famine because of climate change. Which means massively higher risks of political destabilisation and armed conflict as well. Climate change is turning our world into a tinder-box. And because we have not yet cut our emissions of greenhouse gases, it is only going to get worse.

41 comments on “NRT: Climate change: The first climate war”

  1. weka 1

    And here we sit on our computers fretting about it.

  2. esoteric pineapples 2

    The United States military certainly takes it seriously, even if the Republicans don’t.

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2014/11/14/does-our-military-know-something-we-dont-about-global-warming/

    • weka 2.1

      Is that link working?

      • Draco T Bastard 2.1.1

        Forbes Thought of the Day page has been playing up recently. Try refreshing with ctrl-f5 or shift-f5.

        If that doesn’t work, close the page and the open it again – it should go straight to it.

  3. I am struggling to get my head around this.

  4. rich the other 4

    Statements like , most likely and , the worst in modern times hardly inspires confidence in the theory .

    • GregJ 4.1

      Why – have you read the study? or are you a climate scientist disagreeing with the climate evidence they produced or the measurements over the last century?

      “There is evidence that the 2007−2010 drought contributed to the conflict in Syria. It was the worst drought in the instrumental record, causing widespread crop failure and a mass migration of farming families to urban centers. Century-long observed trends in precipitation, temperature, and sea-level pressure, supported by climate model results, strongly suggest that anthropogenic forcing has increased the probability of severe and persistent droughts in this region, and made the occurrence of a 3-year drought as severe as that of 2007−2010 2 to 3 times more likely than by natural variability alone. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.”

    • Draco T Bastard 4.2

      Consider that you had been called up for jury duty, you’d heard all of the evidence and you’re ready to make a decision. Now, as such things are never absolute and there’s always some doubt at what point would you declare the defendant guilty?

      When you considered that there’s a 50% chance that he’s guilty?

      1. 75%
      2. 85%
      3. 90%
      4. 95%

      Which point do you think is beyond reasonable doubt?

      • rich the other 4.2.1

        Appreciate the point but when the evidence is flexible it makes the not guilty decision inevitable .
        Reminds me of an article in the herald a couple of weeks ago , sea levels .
        Thirty year old readings were deemed inaccurate and adjusted accordingly .
        They must have been wrong , the alternative being sea levels have hardly moved .

        • One Anonymous Bloke 4.2.1.1

          Yes, you’re absolutely right: we can’t be certain about anything, therefore we know nothing.

          Just another clear prediction for you to seek a comfortable security blankie instead.

        • Draco T Bastard 4.2.1.2

          Appreciate the point but when the evidence is flexible it makes the not guilty decision inevitable .

          No it doesn’t you moron. It means that you make the best decision you have with what evidence is available to you. If we followed your prescription there’d be no one in jail because all the evidence isn’t perfect. Thankfully we don’t follow your stupidity.

          Same thing applies with climate change. We don’t have perfect information but what we do have is fairly solid and so we make decisions based upon that.

          BTW, the probability for climate change to be human forced is 95%. At that point it is well beyond reasonable doubt.

    • Murray Rawshark 4.3

      Yeah sure. Ya mate FJK is 100% definite with everything he says. For a few hours at least, until he changes to have absolute certainty about something else. Scientists are not dishonest like your mate FJK.

  5. Ennui 5

    Marty, I sympathise with how to get your head around this? I have been harping on about this for years. Cassandra like. Frustrated at the lack of people linking the dots. Everybody sees detail but their heads are down…The big picture eludes. The Arab Spring had a lot to do with bread prices linked to a low harvest the prior year when much of the Russian steppe caught fire. Now watch our drought for local stress.

    • yeah good call E. I feel amazed with myself being amazed that the obvious dots and interconnectedness of many things slipped in to surprise me. I know this shit yet I don’t really… Those butterflies are flapping and flapping – my head is lowered – the storm approaches, and the raindrops burn my scalp…

    • Sacha 5.2

      And scumbag traders in food derivatives helped set off the Arab Spring. Prices of staples like rice went crazy so that investors half a world away could make even more money.

  6. GregJ 6

    There is a growing area of research in the history field around the influence of climate change on both significant historical “events” (plagues, invasions, mass migration, etc.) and longer term historical patterns. The recent stories that made the popular press about the bubonic plague (“Black death“) and the “exoneration” of the rat was sourced in proper historical research done at the University of Oslo that looked at climate change through tree ring analysis and plague “reservoirs” in rodent populations.

    “We provide evidence for repeated climate-driven reintroductions of the bacterium into European harbors from reservoirs in Asia, with a delay of 15 ± 1 y. Our analysis finds no support for the existence of permanent plague reservoirs in medieval Europe.”

    (Incidentally the rats are demanding an apology and compensation! 😛 )

    • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1

      Have you even read the abstract.
      Rats in urban areas are still held responsible as a vector for fleas which had the bacillus..
      And of course the martime trade by ships carried the norwegian rat, not gerbils and marmots

      • GregJ 6.1.1

        Yes – read the abstract, the article and even a preliminary draft.

        What the f*&k are you on about? Was it not obvious that my point was, despite the popular press take on the article, the actual research was about climate change and its influence on the repeated re-introduction of bubonic plague from Asia.

        Are you hard of comprehension today or did the point just sail over your head?

        • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1.1.1

          Its a whole lot of scientific wankery.
          The study that so called exonerated the rats, was only referring to Norway, to one kind of rat (black rat) and the transmission from urban or port areas to rural areas and a very small sample size.

          Then there is the historical climate change driven plague article. The non human caused climate change uses very tenous data analysis, as they themselves say, and their maps only give a tenous connection between the tree ring chronologies and the plague reservoirs. Then there is all the other tenous connections.
          Of real interest is the view that the plague was reintroduced many times.

          There is a historical background to much of this period that isnt even mentioned.

          • GregJ 6.1.1.1.1

            Its a whole lot of scientific wankery.

            Bollocks! Legimate scientific research by well respected people in their field. Either you didn’t read or failed to understood the article.

            Of course the study doesn’t exonerate rattus rattus as a local vector but it does raise doubts about their potential role as a plague reservoir for the repeated re-emergence of the disease.

            “Here, we show that climate-driven outbreaks of Yersinia pestis in Asian rodent plague reservoirs are significantly associated with new waves of plague arriving into Europe through its maritime trade network with Asia. This association strongly suggests that the bacterium was continuously reimported into Europe during the second plague pandemic, and offers an alternative explanation to putative European rodent reservoirs for how the disease could have persisted in Europe for so long.”

            Of course some of the conclusions are tenuous. That’s the nature of scientific research where source data is limited. The authors are clear this an alternative explanation and of course subject to challenge.

            And neither the authors nor I implied the climate change was human driven.

            However the point I originally made is that here is a growing field of research linking climate change (human driven or not) with major historical events so I’m not surprised someone is making these linkages with a current conflict.

            • ghostwhowalksnz 6.1.1.1.1.1

              The stuff about tree rings and previous temperature trends is based on standard techniques. Using a long term proxy to establish localised areas of climate change in the scale of around 15 years is a bit of a leap but then they are supposed to be moving the knowledge forward.
              To then relate that to rodent populations plus disease vectors plus plague outbreaks 1000s of Km away, oh and 600 years ago is veering on high class bullshit.
              As usual its all standardised, homogenised and run through some statistics package to present ‘proof’. If they are pushing the state of the art and including a statistical approach they should at least include an author who was a statistician.

              The exoneration of the rats was based on a small study in a nordic country and only for movement from cities to rural towns and the absence of evidence( buried rat skeletons) from 600 years ago. Any rural person could tell you dogs and other scavengers were used to keep rat populations at bay.

              yes they are all competent scientists, but even the top rate journals have to correct or withdraw papers, let alone have a follow on dialogue that may dissagree with some or all of the conclusions

  7. Colonial Rawshark 7

    And what did the western powers do when they saw that there was civic unrest amongst the peoples of Syria in part due to climate change? Did they provide food to Syria? Did they ease economic sanctions on the Syrian people? Of course not. Instead they saw a geopolitical opportunity to send in arms, money for rebels, and let foreign fighters infiltrate into the nation. Making things 1000x worse for the Syrian people.

    This isn’t a “climate war.” This is a war of both the regional and the great powers.

    • Sacha 7.1

      Yes. Cutting the supply of weapons to IS would only require the permanent members of the UN Security Council to cease profiteering as usual. And stopping the Saudis from funding them. Fat chance.

      • Colonial Rawshark 7.1.1

        US is the biggest exporter of armaments in the world. And it is pushing for NATO countries to all start spending up big on new weapon systems. Notice this trend? Can’t spare an extra $20M for social welfare. But we can spare an extra $200M for military equipment.

        What a sad joke.

        • Lloyd 7.1.1.1

          Sad thing is that spending on social services has a positive benefit/cost value for New Zealand, whilst buying guns and rockets is a definite loss to our economy. The spending might be positive for someone like Lockheed but that doesn’t do anything for the Mum and Dad investor in New Zealand. Oh wait, donkey doesn’t invest here, does he?

  8. sabine 8

    most of the conflicts in this region can be put down to resource wars and oil is not the most important one. Water is.

    and then there is Sao Paolo, Mega City, home to some 20 odd million people and running out of water

    http://www.theguardian.com/cities/2015/feb/25/sao-paulo-brazil-failing-megacity-water-crisis-rationing

    but fear not, some get mineral water delivered….really

    http://www.latimes.com/world/brazil/la-fg-ff-brazil-water-bikes-20150302-story.html

    the pentagon put out some intersting thoughts in 2003 (large pdf file) http://www.climate.org/PDF/clim_change_scenario.pdf
    and again in http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/2008/ssi_pumphrey.pdf

    but then who really cares? Master Chef, the block, Labour Party, National Party, Green Party…lalalalal at the end of the day (TM) all of our parties are corrupt and afraid to mention the unmentionable. But hey, we could all drive electric cars.

    • Colonial Rawshark 8.1

      You can count on corporates like Nestle to drain aquifers in drought stricken areas in order to keep their bottled water production lines going.

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        Like this one?

        Construction is under way to convert an Awatoto industrial building into a bottling plant on a site where the owners have permission to extract more than 400 million litres of underground water a year.

        One Pure International Group was granted resource consent in December to develop the automated bottling plant in the 4800sq m building beside SH2 south of Napier.

        The company has had consent since 2013, when it bought the property, to extract up to 7.8 million litres of water a week from a bore on the site – or up to 405.6 million litres a year.

        Considering the droughts that we’ve been having over the last few years you’d think people would start to realise that water is an especially scarce resource but local and central governments keep giving it away to corporations and farmers.

        • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1.1

          Expropriate and mothball, ready for future state use. (That’s why they want the ISDS in the TPPA).

        • Nick 8.1.1.2

          To put the amount in perspective the water allocation given Pure Group is about 7800 cubic meters a week, so about 0.013 cumecs (cubic meters per second). Sounds a lot but in reality its about about 1/3000 of the mean flow of the Tukituki locally. That might sound bugger all, but by the time you get hundreds of farmers, local authorities etc taking the same or more the river starts to run down.

          • Colonial Rawshark 8.1.1.2.1

            cheers for that

          • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1.2.2

            They’re not taking the water from the Tukituki but from an aquifer. Now find out what that replenishes at and compare it to how much they’re taking.

    • Murray Rawshark 8.2

      São Paulo is running out of water because the state water company (SABESP) was privatised and profits paid out to shareholders rather than being used to maintain and develop the resource. São Paulo state is a stronghold of the reactionary PSDB, which is like National but far more corrupt. There are plenty of signs at the moment that they are trying to arrange a military coup.

      Which isn’t meant to deny global warming, just to suggest that right wing politics has made a large negative contribution to the lives of the Paulistanas.

      • sabine 8.2.1

        global warming and corporate abuse of comunal goods go hand in hand. the one feeds the other.
        see dairy industry in NZ

  9. Ennui 9

    Nice links and comments Sabine. I have said cynically that the way to fix ISIS is to cut off the food supply. Reality is that the whole area a century ago imported food to feed 10 percent of today’s population. Global warming and the lack of water will create a massive humanitarian disaster regardless of the wars that will be associated. We watch economic refugees try to cross the Mediterranean already from the African shore. It looks apocalyptic to me.

  10. Ennui 10

    Locally we have in the east of the country from Hawkes Bay to South Canterbury a drought the likes of which I’ve never seen before. I spend lots of time in trout streams…The Ruamahanga for the last month has been flowing at a quarter of normal summer low flows. Other rivers in the system are dry. Speaking to a well respected climatologist mate was not reassuring: this is how it is predicted to be in the future with the over heating of the warm water masses in the Pacific. Houston..We have a problem.

    • Murray Rawshark 10.1

      I can’t remember seeing Auckland or Wellington as brown as when I flew in a month ago. Queensland is a lot greener at the moment.

      • sabine 10.1.1

        out west akl its brown, soil is cracking and the garden gives nothing without regular watering, which for many becomes a luxury as they are charged waste water usage for their garden watering. lol….corporate abuse of comunal goods. Sao Paolo is us….we should keep that in mind.

        years ago i worked for a company that delivered water treatment chemicals, and well the guys working for the treatment plants are scared to say the least. at that time we had maybe three month reserves left if no rain. Luckily for us it rained.

        we are fucked if it does not rain.

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