Global Warming Makes Syrian Villages Ghost Towns


A Syrian man sits in the village of Ain al-Tineh. Photo via AFP.

Residents of sinking tropical islands and flooding Alaskan villages are the dramatic examples of global-warming refugees that come most readily to mind. But a dearth of water can be just as dangerous as a deluge, as the 160 Syrian villages emptied out by climate change in 2007 and 2008 attests.

According to a new report by the Canada-based International Institute for Sustainable Development, the changing climate bodes ill for the Mediterranean Middle East, where it "threatens to reduce the availability of scarce water resources, increase food insecurity, hinder economic growth and lead to large-scale population movements," all of which "could hold serious implications for peace in the region."

Water Supplies Diminishing Throughout The Levant
Of the countries collectively known as the Levant -- Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinian Territories, and Syria -- only Israel produces a high per-capita amount of greenhouse gases, an AFP story on the report notes. But all residents of the region will suffer the consequences of diminishing water supplies and reduced agricultural productivity, leading the analysts to predict that the disparity could contribute to conflict in the area. Writes the AFP:

In the study's conclusions, [report co-authors Oli Brown and Alec Crawford] said: "As a region, the Levant produces a tiny fraction of global emissions--less than one percent of the world total. The exception among Levant countries is Israel, "whose emissions -- 11.8 metric tonnes per capita -- exceed the European average of 10.05 tonnes," they said. "This may exacerbate the existing deep mistrust of the West, including Israel, which would be seen as causing a problem that it is unable or unwilling to resolve," they said.

Turkey, Syria, and Iraq are already spatting about water flow from the Euphrates River, which the IISD report predicts "even modest global warming" could shrink by a further 30 percent. Farmers in Iraq say they are not getting enough water for their crops, a situation, which, if not resolved, could lead them to join the Syrian villagers who were forced to migrate to urban areas. Via: "160 Syrian villages deserted 'due to climate change'," Agence France-Presse

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Tags: Deserts | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Effects

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