When the Guardian doesn’t agree with your climate claims then you know you are stuffed

The left-wing, Barack Obama, other politicians and even the idiot Prince Charles have all claimed that climate change is what has caused the war in Syria.

The myth has been widely exposed but the fools keep repeating it, but when a media outlet known for its unwavering support of climate change propaganda comes out and says the?claims about Syria are rubbish then you know they are rubbish.

Was the Syrian civil war partly caused by climate change? Prince Charles, for one, seems to think so. ?There is very good evidence indeed that one of the major reasons for this horror in Syria was a drought that lasted for about five or six years,? he told Sky News, adding that climate change is having a ?huge impact? on conflict and terrorism.

The Prince is not alone on this one: he joins a chorus of voices making similar claims. In the US President Obama, Al Gore, and the democratic presidential hopefuls Martin O?Malley and Bernie Sanders have all talked of a link between climate change and the Syria conflict, Sanders going so far as to argue that climate change is ?directly related to the growth of terrorism?.

In the UK, the Syria connection has been drawn in government-commissioned reports and by leading NGOs, as well as by activists and commentators ranging from Charlotte Church to George Monbiot.

Having spent some time analysing the evidence, we believe there is good reason to doubt the veracity of these claims. First, most of the public and policy discourse on the conflict implications of climate change is driven by politics, not science.

The earliest reports on the subject were not scientific studies but military-led attempts to dramatise the importance of climate change by linking it to security interests. And the recent outpouring of claims about Syria?s civil war is motivated by a similar attempt ? in our view misguided ? to ?securitise? climate change ahead of the Paris summit. While some scientific studies do find that climate change has conflict and security implications, just as many disagree. ??

In fact we have been here before. In 2007, it was Darfur that was being portrayed as a ?climate war?, after Ban Ki-moon?s contention: ?The Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis arising at least in part from climate change?. This thesis has since been roundly dismissed by a host of academic studies that have shown, among other things, that the war could not have been caused by drought because?rainfall levels in Darfur increased prior to the start of the war.

This time round, there at least appears to be some scientific support for the climate-conflict thesis: a study by Earth scientists at Columbia University, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found: ?Climate change is implicated in the current Syrian conflict?. The problem is, this study is deeply flawed.

How flawed is the study?

First, the study is not even about Syria specifically, nor about the links between Syria?s drought and civil war. Rather, its key finding is that there was a multiyear drought during the late 2000s across the ?fertile crescent?, a region defined by the authors as stretching from southern Russia to Saudi Arabia. Through statistical modelling, it is then claimed that this drought was made two to three times more likely by human-caused climate change. On to this analysis the authors simply bolt a few dubious, secondary assertions about the links between drought and conflict in Syria. Crucial among these is that prewar drought in Syria led to the displacement of as many as 1.5 million people to the country?s cities. But this figure ? widely reproduced in media reports ? is almost certainly wrong: the sole source for it is a single short news report, and it is completely out of line with Syrian government, UN and other estimates, most of which suggested numbers in the region of 250,000.

Moreover, whatever the level of prewar internal migration within Syria, it is misleading to pin this mainly on drought. Syria?s cities were growing throughout the 2000s, thanks to economic liberalisation. And most of the ?drought migration? occurred in 2009, after the overnight cancellation of subsidies on diesel and fertilisers. According to one researcher, Francesa De Ch?tel, these subsidy cuts were for many farmers ?a greater burden than the [three] successive years of drought?.

Most important of all, the Columbia authors present no serious evidence whatsoever that Syria?s ?drought migrants? helped spark the civil war. The basis for their claims is twofold: testimony from a single Syrian farmer; and a more general, un-evidenced assertion that the presence of migrants exacerbated urban stresses. They offer no evidence that any of the early unrest was directed against these migrants ? which one would surely expect if they were indeed a cause of social stresses. And this, to put it bluntly, is because there is no such evidence.

So, yet again, in the climate change debate one side has deliberately lied and falsified information to suit their agenda.

If the Guardian doesn’t support your tenuous hypothesis then the argument is lost.


– The Guardian