Claim: Global Warming Helped Create ISIS
Global warming is not only responsible for causing superstorms and the ebola outbreak, it’s now claimed that global warming helped create the conditions in which terrorists with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria could thrive.
Two academics have put forward the theory that a historic drought helped to spread unrest in Syria, sparking a chaotic civil war that ISIS terrorists used to gain power and commit atrocities throughout the region.
“A historic drought afflicted the country from 2006 through 2010, setting off a dire humanitarian crisis for millions of Syrians,” wrote Charles Strozier, a history professor at the City University of New York, and Kelly Berkell, an attorney and researcher with the Center on Terrorism at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“Yet the four-year drought evoked little response from Bashar al-Assad’s government,” the academics wrote. “Rage at the regime’s callousness boiled over in 2011, helping to fuel the popular uprising. In the ensuing chaos, ISIS stole onto the scene, proclaimed a caliphate in late June and accelerated its rampage of atrocities including the recent beheadings of three Western civilians.”
Strozier and Berkell argue that while “ISIS threatens brutal violence against all who dissent from its harsh ideology, climate change menaces communities (less maliciously) with increasingly extreme weather.” The two add that fighting global warming is linked to fighting terrorism and political violence around the world.
“If more Americans knew how glacial melt contributes to catastrophic weather in Afghanistan — potentially strengthening the Taliban and imperiling Afghan girls who want to attend school — would we drive more hybrids and use millions fewer plastic bags? How would elections and legislation be influenced?” Berkell and Strozier wrote.
“Drought did not singlehandedly spawn the Syrian uprising, but it stoked simmering anger at Assad’s dictatorship. This frustration further destabilized Syria and carved out a space in which ISIS would thrive,” the academics continued.
For years now, scholars and some military experts have been trying to link global warming to violent conflicts. A study from last year claimed that violent conflicts throughout history are linked to climatic shifts. Warmer temperatures could push violent conflict, crime and aggression up 50 percent by 2050, according to a University of California, Berkeley study.
The same line was pushed by military experts as the Syrian civil war picked up steam last summer. Francesco Femia, co-founder of the Center for Climate and Security, told “Moyers & Company” that “under the surface of what seemed to be a stable country, there was a large-scale environmental and human disaster happening.”
“Climate change primarily manifests itself through water,” Femia said. “But it varies; different kinds of water, different ways. It can lead to more extreme weather events: either a drought or a major storm or an amount of rainfall that’s unusual and leads to flooding. It’s not just scarcity, it’s too much, too little and unpredictably.”
The main problem with Famia’s theory is that weather has not gotten more extreme as many environmental activists, politicians and some scientists claim. Research by University of Colorado scientist Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr. shows that weather has not gotten more extreme despite rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
“It is misleading and just plain incorrect to claim that disasters associated with hurricanes, tornadoes, floods or droughts have increased on climate timescales either in the United States or globally,” Pielke told the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee in 2013. “It is further incorrect to associate the increasing costs of disasters with the emission of greenhouse gases.”
Pielke’s claims were echoed by testimony from climate scientist Dr. Roy Spencer, who said there “is little or no observational evidence that severe weather of any type has worsened over the last 30, 50, or 100 years, irrespective of whether any such changes could be blamed on human activities, anyway.”
Another point to consider is that Syria has always had droughts and will continue to have droughts with or without global warming — man-made or not. And the evidence linking global warming and extreme weather is weak, according to even the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
The IPCC found that there “is limited evidence of changes in extremes associated with other climate variables since the mid-20th century.” The IPCC also noted there is “not enough evidence at present to suggest more than low confidence in a global-scale observed trend in drought or dryness (lack of rainfall) since the middle of the 20th century due to lack of direct observations, geographical inconsistencies in the trends.”
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