“Drought, water, war, and climate change” is the title of this month’s Yale Climate Connections video exploring expert assessments of the interconnections between and among those issues.

With historic 1988 BBC television footage featuring Princeton University scientist Syukuru (“Suki”) Manabe and recent news clips and interviews with MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel, Ohio State University scientist Lonnie Thompson, CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour, and New York Times columnist and book author Tom Friedman, the six-minute video plumbs the depths of growing climate change concerns among national security experts.

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Friedman, in footage from the 2014 Showtime “Years of Living Dangerously” nine-episode documentary, points to a NOAA analysis that climate change has caused the Mediterranean region, in Friedman’s words, “to dry up . . . . leading to longer and more severe droughts.” Friedman in that piece pointed out that severe droughts struck Syria – “which is right at the epicenter” of the worst impacts — in the four years leading up to the Syrian revolution.

MIT scientist Kerry Emanuel points to increasing concerns among military experts over climate change. “These are not sandal-wearing, fruit juice-drinking hippies from the sixties,” he says. “These are serious folk” concerned about “significant geopolitical impacts around the world.”

CNN reporter Christiane Amanpour reports that climate change and dwindling water supplies “may have helped fuel Syria’s war.” She says drought in Syria from 2006 through 2010 “scorched 60 percent of Syria’s land, and it killed 80 percent of livestock in some regions, putting three-quarters of the farmers out of work, and ultimately displacing 1.5 million people.”

“While no one’s claiming a direct cause and effect” relationship, Amanpour says, “the drought did bring on the diaspora from dying farms and over-crowded cities, and thereby put enormous economic and social pressures on an already fractured society.”

The video ends with Lonnie Thompson pointing to Tibet’s numerous glaciers and the Indus River flowing through China, Pakistan, and India.  All, he says, are “nuclear-powered countries,” each of them dependent on the Indus for water supplies . . . “all geopolitical hot-spots in the future” with a big stake on the glaciers increasingly under stress in a warming climate.

More Resources
Syria violence caused by … water supply?
Syria: Climate Change, Drought and Social Unrest
The Arab Spring and Climate Change: A Climate and Security Correlations Series
World Bank: Global warming will drive 100 million people into poverty
The Pakistan nuclear nightmare

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