According to the experts, any day now a civil war will break out in California.
That’s what former Maryland governor and Democratic presidential candidate Martin O’Malley claims. Well, not about California (just yet), but about Syria: “One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation-state of Syria and the rise of ISIS was the effect of climate change and the mega-drought that affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis.”
O’Malley further explained, “So these are the cascading effects that happen in a world that’s very, very connected and in a world where climate change is now creating extreme weather conditions, prolonged droughts.”
The Democratic contender points to a study, “Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought,” published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The study argues:
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 two to three times more likely than by natural variability alone. We conclude that human influences on the climate system are implicated in the current Syrian conflict.
The Pulitzer-Prize-winning Politifact website sided with Gov. O’Malley, rating his declaration: “Mostly True.”
Politifact’s Linda Qiu wrote, “Experts agreed that the drought, spurred by climate change, was one of many factors that led to the Syrian conflict,” noting that Mr. O’Malley “is careful not the overstate it.”
Speaking about overstating . . .
A National Observer article featured the iconic picture of that drowned Syrian toddler washed up on a Turkish beach, along with the headline, “This is what a climate refugee looks like.”
The Washington Post’s Wonkblog weighed in with an article headlined, “Drought helped cause Syria’s war. Will climate change bring more like it?”
National Geographic reported that, “A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, according to a new study. . . .”
Though, the magazine was kind enough to explain, “The authors [of the study] acknowledge that many factors led to Syria’s uprising, including corrupt leadership . . .”
Oh, yeah, that.
“The drought did not cause the Syrian revolution . . . ” acknowledged Kenneth Pollack, a Middle East expert at the Brookings Institution, only to add, “A very complex mix of factors did that, but the study suggests that climate change was part of that mix even if we can’t tell how important it was.”
Words can be minced and mushed and muddled, especially in politics, but the emphasis, the hype, the lights are all shining on the obvious conclusion: climate change caused the War in Syria.
And, I hate to break this part to you, but according to science . . . you created the atmosphere — that guilty, murderous climate change monster.
Sure, Syrian “President” Basher al-Assad may be a vicious thug, murderer, and torturer, whose family has ruled the country under a state of emergency since 1963. Yet, he is really no more responsible for the carnage than any other soul on this planet who might have inadvertently taken advantage of the combustion engine.
It’s as if the Syrian revolt began over a lack of air-conditioning there and too much use of that evil invention here. A dearth of political rights? Admittedly, that might have been a factor, too, though no scientific studies have confirmed it.
Are the atrocities — the barrel bombs filled with nails and dropped on housing complexes by Assad, the use of chemical weapons (remember President O’s “red line”?), the cutting out of a soldiers heart by the opposition — really fueled more by anthropogenic weather forces than by the centuries old conflicts between Sunni and Shia Muslims?
You laugh and say NO. But the experts say YES.
Two years ago, National Geographic informed readers that, “Wars, murders, and other acts of violence will likely become more commonplace in coming decades as the effects of global warming cause tempers to flare worldwide, a comprehensive new study warns.”
The article included a painful picture of a Pakistani woman scarred from an acid attack, with this explanation: “A new study suggests that such violence increases with abnormal temperatures.”
What sort of thuggish behavior can be attributed to climate change? “Examples included spikes in domestic violence in India and Australia, increased assaults and murders in the United States and Tanzania, ethnic violence in Europe and South Asia, land invasions in Brazil, and police using force in the Netherlands.”
Ohio State University Professor Brad Busman may have put his finger on the connection between global warming and wickedness: “When people are in a cranky mood, they’re more likely to behave aggressively.”
Please lower your thermostat and bike to work or some otherwise pleasant person will shoot someone else’s dog in Timbuktu.
Could the ever-expanding effects of climate change also be responsible for Obama’s disastrous Syrian policy?
Well, let’s wait for the studies.
In the meantime, the climate change wars are coming home to roost. A group of 20 so-called scientists sent a letter to President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren, asking them to investigate companies and organizations that publicly express doubt about predictions of impending catastrophic man-made global warming. Specifically, they urge the administration to pursue this line of assault using the oft-abused RICO statute, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, designed to go after the Mafia and drug cartels.
Yes, the “scientists” are calling for government harassment of dissenters as well as straight-out censorship.
Maybe climate change made them do it.
Paul Jacob, September 27, 2015
This column first appeared at Townhall.com.