The heart-rending photos of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old refugee who drowned at sea on the treacherous passage from Syria to Turkey, have generated a flurry coverage on the role of climate change and drought in triggering the civil war in Kurdi’s home country.
From 2006 to 2010, Syria “had a climate-related drought that destroyed 60% of their farms and killed 80% of their livestock, and drove a million and a half climate refugees into the cities of Syria, where they collided with another million and a half refugees from the Iraq War,” former U.S. Vice President Al Gore told the Climate Summit of the Americas in July.
“The WikiLeaks disclosure of documents inside the Syrian government in that era show their discussion [of], ‘we can’t deal with this,'” said Gore, founder of the Climate Reality Project. “Our hearts are heavy when we even think about the tragedy in that land.”
The National Observer’s report last week was illustrated with a screen shot from a 2014 comic book that traced the roots of the civil war back to climate disruption.
“Once-wealthy farmers were reduced to penury, while city dwellers struggled to cope with water shortages, unemployment, rising living costs, and government oppression,” Dinshaw writes. “By 2011, Syrian society was a tinderbox waiting to explode, and Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya lit the fuse that sparked full-scale war.”
Francisco Femia of the Center for Climate and Security noted that “as an international community, we’re not looking into environmental stress enough. It is really significant when you look at 1.5 million people entirely losing their livelihood.”