In his interview with Matt McGrath about the IPCC WGII report, Richard Tol said
"You have a very silly statement in the draft summary that says that people who live in war-torn countries are more vulnerable to climate change, which is undoubtedly true," said Prof Tol.and in Torald Staud's description of Richard's promotional tour in Yokohoma
"But if you ask people in Syria whether they are more concerned with chemical weapons or climate change, I think they would pick chemical weapons - that is just silliness."
"It is only about the consequences of climate change and the four horsemen of the apocolypse." Tol refers to a -in his words- "very stupid" IPCC statement: People in war zones are especially vulnerable to climate risks. Tol contrasts this with a reference to the currently most gruesome war on the planet: "I believe that people in Syria fear chemical weapons more than global warming." Which is of course true, but no climatologist would disagree.Eli, old Rabett that he is, has an old saying, maybe if everyone else is panicking and you are calm, just maybe there is something you don't know. Surprisingly in this case, the Friedman unit has seen the answer in the Wikileaks dump, and it was not six months ago but more than six weeks.
I’ve been reporting on the connection between the Syrian drought and the uprising there for a Showtime documentary that will air in April, but recently our researchers came across a WikiLeaks cable that brilliantly foreshadowed how environmental stresses would fuel the uprising. Sent on Nov. 8, 2008, from the U.S. Embassy in Damascus to the State Department, the cable details how, in light of what was a devastating Syrian drought — it lasted from 2006-10 — Syria’s U.N. food and agriculture representative, Abdullah bin Yehia, was seeking drought assistance from the U.N. and wanted the U.S. to contribute. Here are some key lines:
■ “The U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs launched an appeal on September 29 requesting roughly $20.23 million to assist an estimated one million people impacted by what the U.N. describes as the country’s worst drought in four decades.”
■ “Yehia proposes to use money from the appeal to provide seed and technical assistance to 15,000 small-holding farmers in northeast Syria in an effort to preserve the social and economic fabric of this rural, agricultural community. If UNFAO efforts fail, Yehia predicts mass migration from the northeast, which could act as a multiplier on social and economic pressures already at play and undermine stability.”
■ “Yehia does not believe that the [government of Bashar al-Assad] will allow any Syrian citizen to starve. ... However, Yehia told us that the Syrian minister of agriculture ... stated publicly that economic and social fallout from the drought was ‘beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.’ What the U.N. is trying to combat through this appeal, Yehia says, is the potential for ‘social destruction’ that would accompany erosion of the agricultural industry in rural Syria. This social destruction would lead to political instability.”
Eli was aware of this, and reminded yet again by a comment from a passer by■ “Without direct assistance, Yehia predicts that most of these 15,000 small-holding farmers would be forced to depart Al Hasakah Province to seek work in larger cities in western Syria. Approximately 100,000 dependents — women, children and the elderly or infirm — would be left behind to live in poverty, he said. Children would be likely to be pulled from school, he warned, in order to seek a source of income for families left behind. In addition, the migration of 15,000 unskilled laborers would add to the social and economic pressures presently at play in major Syrian cities. A system already burdened by a large Iraqi refugee population may not be able to absorb another influx of displaced persons, Yehia explained, particularly at this time of rising costs, growing dissatisfaction of the middle class, and a perceived weakening of the social fabric and security structures that Syrians have come to expect and — in some cases — rely on.”