The link between climate and conflict in the Middle East

NatureClimate scientists have concluded that extreme weather and climate disasters will increasingly lead to wars in multinational states, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia, said in an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Natural disasters, climate-related, have a special breaking potential which manifests itself particularly tragic in ethnically diverse societies. Climate disasters do not cause the violence directly, but they can increase the risk of an existing conflict.

At first glance, this statement seems obvious, but we were able to prove that this is indeed the case.

In recent years, many climatologists and historians trying to understand how climate variations in past historical periods and even in the last few decades could influence the course of history. For example, they have recently found that a cold snap in the 7th century AD, could cause an epidemic of plague in the Byzantine Empire and to lay the foundations of the power of the Arab Caliphate, and in the first third of the 13th century – to compel the Mongols to stop offensive in Europe.

Man-made and natural climate fluctuations have greater influence on the multinational states than ethnically homogeneous country, tracked how modern natural disasters affecting the country’s economic performance. In total, the researchers analyzed the last 30 years of life in all countries of the Earth and its inhabitants reaction to climatic shocks.

In this analysis, researchers relied on two factors – the extent to which climate change was strong and anomalous phenomena, and how much time passed between them and the various political upheavals in those countries that were covered by these fluctuations in climate.

It turned out that about 10% of the armed conflict that broke out during this period were related, or simply reinforced climatic disasters that have caused serious damage to the economy of the affected countries – from 0.1% of GDP or more. If you take all conflicts, and not just the war, then their share grows to 23%.

Interestingly, a similar relationship between conflict and climate events is most pronounced in countries where several ethnic groups lived or passed through to the cultural and historical borders.

We were surprised by how much this phenomenon manifested it in countries divided along ethnic lines, as compared with states with a long history of conflict in the past, high levels of poverty and a serious gap between rich and poor. We believe that ethnic partitions serve as original tear lines that diverge at the seams if there are additional factors such as natural disasters.

Considering that anthropocentric climate change will lead to more frequent droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather events in the coming years, scientists predict an even greater number of conflicts in Central Asia and the Middle East, where high exposure to climate events combined with the presence of many multinational and multi-faith state.

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