Rebutting the claim: Did Human-Caused Climate Change Lead to War in Syria?

The Current Wisdom is a series of monthly articles in which Patrick J. Michaels, director of the Center for the Study of Science, reviews interesting items on global warming in the scientific literature that may not have received the media attention that they deserved, or have been misinterpreted in the popular press.

By Paul C. “Chip” Knappenberger and Patrick J. Michaels

Did human-caused climate change lead to war in Syria?

Based only on the mainstream press headlines, you almost certainly would think so.

Reading further into the articles where the case is laid out, a few caveats appear, but the chain of events seems strong.

The mechanism? An extreme drought in the Fertile Crescent region—one that a new study finds was made worse by human greenhouse gas emissions—added a spark to the tinderbox of tensions that had been amassing in Syria for a number of years under the Assad regime (including poor water management policies).

It is not until you dig pretty deep into the technical scientific literature, that you find out that the anthropogenic climate change impact on drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent is extremely minimal and tenuous—so much so that it is debatable as to whether it is detectable at all.

This is not to say that a strong and prolonged drought didn’t play some role in the Syria’s pre-war unrest—perhaps it did, perhaps it didn’t (a debate we leave up to folks much more qualified than we are on the topic)—but that the human-influenced climate change impact on the drought conditions was almost certainly too small to have mattered.

In other words, the violence would almost certainly have occurred anyway.

Several tidbits buried in the scientific literature are relevant to assessing the human impact on the meteorology behind recent drought conditions there.

It is true that climate models do project a general drying trend in the Mediterranean region (including the Fertile Crescent region in the Eastern Mediterranean) as the climate warms under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations. There are two components to the projected drying. The first is a northward expansion of the subtropical high pressure system that typically dominates the southern portion of the region. This poleward expansion of the high pressure system would act to shunt wintertime storm systems northward, increasing precipitation over Europe but decreasing precipitation across the Mediterranean. The second component is an increase in the temperature which would lead to increased evaporation and enhanced drying.

Our analysis will show that the connection between this drought and human-induced climate change is tenuous at best, and tendentious at worst.

An analysis in the new headline-generating paper by Colin Kelley and colleagues that just appeared in the Proceeding of the National Academy of Sciences shows the observed trend in the sea level pressure across the eastern Mediterranean as well as the trend projected to have taken place there by a collection of climate models. We reproduce this graphic as Figure 1. If the subtropical high is expanding northward over the region, the sea level pressure ought to be on the rise. Indeed, the climate models (bottom panel) project a rise in the surface pressure over the 20th century (blue portion of the curve) and predict even more of a rise into the future (red portion of the curve). However, the observations (top panel, green line) do not corroborate the model hypothesis under the normative rules of science. Ignoring the confusing horizontal lines included by the authors, several things are obvious. First, the level of natural variability is such that no overall trend is readily apparent.

[Note: The authors identify an upwards trend in the observations and describe it as being “marginally significant (P < 0.14)”. In nobody’s book (except, we guess, these authors) is a P-value of 0.14 “marginally significant”—it is widely accepted in the scientific literature that P-values must be less than 0.05 for them to be considered statistically significant (i.e., there is a less than 1 in 20 chance that chance alone would produce a similar result). That’s normative science. We’ve seen some rather rare cases where authors attached the term “marginally” significant to P-values up to 0.10, but 0.14 (about a 1 in 7 chance that chance didn’t produce it) is taking things a bit far, hence our previous usage of the word “tendentious.” ]

Whether or not there is an identifiable overall upwards trend, the barometric pressure in the region during the last decade of the record (when the Syrian drought took place) is not at all unusual when compared to other periods in the region’s pressure history—including periods that took place long before large-scale greenhouse gas emissions were taking place.

Consequently, there is little in the pressure record to lend credence to the notion that human-induced climate change played a significant role in the region’s recent drought.


Figure 1. Observed (top) and modeled (bottom) sea level pressure for the Eastern Mediterranean region (figure adapted from Kelley et al., 2015).

Another clue that the human impact on the recent drought was minimal (at best) comes from a 2012 paper in the Journal of Climate by Martin Hoerling and colleagues. In that paper, Hoerling et al. concluded that about half of the trend towards late-20th century dry conditions in the Mediterranean region was potentially attributable to human emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols. They found that climate models run with increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases and aerosols produce drying across the Mediterranean region in general. However, the subregional patterns of the drying are sensitive to the patterns of sea surface temperature (SST) variability and change. Alas, the patterns of SST changes are quite different in reality than they were projected to be by the climate models. Hoerling et al. describe the differences this way “In general, the observed SST differences have stronger meridional [North-South] contrast between the tropics and NH extratropics and also a stronger zonal [East-West] contrast between the Indian Ocean and the tropical Pacific Ocean.”

Figure 2 shows visually what Hoerling was describing—the observed SST change (top) along with the model projected changes (bottom) for the period 1971-2010 minus 1902-1970. Note the complexity that accompanies reality.


Figure 2. Cold season (November–April) sea surface temperature departures (°C) for the period 1971–2010 minus 1902–70: (top) observed and (bottom) mean from climate model projections (from Hoerling et al., 2012).

Hoerling et al. show that in the Fertile Crescent region, the drying produced by climate models is particularly enhanced (by some 2-3 times) if the observed patterns of sea surface temperatures are incorporated into the models rather than patterns that would otherwise be projected by the models (i.e., the top portion of Figure 2 is used to drive the model output rather than the bottom portion).

Let’s be clear here. The models were unable to accurately reproduce the patterns of SST that have been observed as greenhouse gas concentrations increased. So the observed data were substituted for the predicted value, and then that was used to generate forecasts of changed rainfall. We can’t emphasize this enough: what was not supposed to happen from climate change was forced into the models that then synthesized rainfall.

Figure 3 shows these results and Figure 4 shows what has been observed. Note that even using the prescribed SST, the model predicted changes in Figure 3 (lower panel) are only about half as much as has been observed to have taken place in the region around Syria (Figure 4, note scale difference). This leaves the other half of the moisture decline largely unexplained. From Figure 3 (top), you can also see that only about 10mm out of more than 60mm of observed precipitation decline around Syria during the cold season is “consistent with” human-caused climate change as predicted by climate models left to their own devices.

Nor does “consistent with” mean that “caused by” it.


Figure 3. Simulated change in cold season precipitation (mm) over the Mediterranean region based on the ensemble average (top) of 22 IPCC models run with observed emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols and (bottom) of 40 models run with observed emissions of greenhouse gases and aerosols with prescribed sea surface temperatures. The difference plots in the panels are for the period 1971–2010 minus 1902–70 (source: Hoerling et al., 2012).


For comparative purposes, according to the University of East Anglia climate history, the average cold-season rainfall in Syria is 261mm (10.28 inches). Climate models, when left to their own devices, predict a decline averaging about 10mm, or 3.8 per cent of the total. When “prescribed” (some would use the word “fudged”) sea surface temperatures are substituted for their wrong numbers, the decline in rainfall goes up to a whopping 24mm, or 9.1 per cent of the total. For additional comparative purposes, population has roughly tripled in the last three decades.


Figure 4. Observed change in cold season precipitation for the period 1971–2010 minus 1902–70. Anomalies (mm) are relative to the 1902–2010 (source: Hoerling et al., 2012).

So what you are left with after carefully comparing the patterns of observed changes in the meteorology and climatology of Syria and the Fertile Crescent region to those produced by climate models, is that the lion’s share of the observed changes are left unexplained by the models run with increasing greenhouse gases. Lacking a better explanation, these unexplained changes get chalked up to “natural variability”—and natural variability dominates the observed climate history.

You wouldn’t come to this conclusion from the cursory treatment of climate that is afforded in the mainstream press. It requires an examination of scientific literature and a good background and understanding of the rather technical research being discussed. Like all issues related to climate change, the devil is in the details, and, in the haste to produce attention grabbing headlines, the details often get glossed over or dismissed.

Our bottom line: the identifiable influence of human-caused climate change on recent drought conditions in the Fertile Crescent were almost certainly not the so-called straw that broke the camel’s back and led to the outbreak of conflict in Syria. The pre-existing (political) climate in the region was plenty hot enough for a conflict to ignite, perhaps partly fuelled by recent drought conditions—conditions which are part and parcel of the region climate and the intensity and frequency of which remain dominated by natural variability, even in this era of increasing greenhouse gas emissions from human activities.


Hoerling, M., et al., 2012. On the increased frequency of Mediterranean drought. Journal of Climate, 25, 2146-2161.

Kelley, C. P., et al., 2015. Climate change in the Fertile Crescent and implications of the recent Syrian drought. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1421533112

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March 4, 2015 4:12 pm

These claims are getting so over the top, there’s nothing left to say. They are self-parody. Problem is, you couldn’t come up with parody this far out.

Reply to  TonyG
March 6, 2015 1:00 pm

Poes law

Reply to  TonyG
March 9, 2015 3:07 am

Frequencies of UFO incidences have decreased due to global warming! Our polluting the atmosphere with plant food has repelled our serpent alien overlords.

Adrian Mann
March 4, 2015 4:17 pm

Spoiler alert!
Simple answer – No.

Crispin in Waterloo
March 4, 2015 4:25 pm

Seeing as the “Fertile Crescent” was even more fertile when the climate was about 2 degrees warmer 8000 years ago than it is now, how on earth can they support the assertion that a little warming will make things ‘drier’? On the evidence, the claim is crazy. Baseless. Contradicted by historical evidence and proxies. But not models apparently. The Fertile Crescent was the cradle of Western civilisation, not the desert that mostly it is today. A little warming will be good for the Fertile Crescent. A warmer Mediterranean will bring more rain.
As for the war in Syria, that was announced a couple of years before it started. Hardly a surprise, then, and weather had nothing at all to do with it.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 5, 2015 12:54 am

Wasn’t the Fertile Crescent wetter during warmer times of the Holocene?

Evidence for Holocene environmental changes in the northern Fertile Crescent provided by pedogenic carbonate coatings
…..For this period a trend towards higher temperatures is suggested. In the mid-Holocene, the mean rate of coating growth was 2–3 times higher than in the early Holocene. Both δ13C and δ18O reached their maximum values during this time and the direction of changes of the δ13C and δ18O curves became similar. The combination of data suggests that this period was the most humid in the Holocene and on average warmer than the early Holocene. At ca. 4000 cal yr BP secondary accumulation of carbonate ceased, presumably reflecting a shift to a more arid climate.

Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo
March 5, 2015 1:08 am

More observations during a warm time.

Origin of agriculture and domestication of plants and animals linked to early Holocene climate amelioration
Domestication of plants and animals was necessary for the evolution of agriculture, spatial expansion and population increase of humans during the Holocene, which facilitated the evolution of technically innovative societies. The agricultural practices enabled people to establish permanent settlements and expand urbanbased societies. Domestication of plants and animals transformed the profession of the early humans from hunting and gathering to selective hunting, herding and settled agriculture. The earliest archaeological evidences, found throughout the tropical and subtropical areas of southwestern and southern Asia, northern and central Africa and Central America, suggest
rapid and large-scale domestication of plants and animals ca. 10,000-7000 cal years BP. This interval corresponds to an intense humid phase and equable climates, as observed in numerous paleo records across the regions. I suggest that domestication of plants and animals and subsequent beginning of agriculture were linked to climate amelioration in the early Holocene.

I vaguely recall the Sahara used to be green.

Vince Causey
Reply to  Jimbo
March 5, 2015 2:40 am

I seem to remember reading that the Sphinx in Egypt bore all the evidence of water weathering, so that area would probably have been a lot wetter 4k years ago.

DD More
Reply to  Jimbo
March 5, 2015 11:08 am

Gilgamesh, the king of Uruk, The Phoenicians, even ol’ King Solomon and the king of Tyre and not last the Roman Empire were the ones that done it. Chopped down all the cedar trees that stretched from the Mediterranean to Mesopotamia. Lost the water storage and ground cover / shade and changed it all to desert. It was the killing of the timber guard Humbaba and not CO2.

March 4, 2015 4:25 pm

The next shower of rain and IS will run through the puddles back home.

March 4, 2015 4:28 pm

I can just imagine the simple Syrian villager saying to himself: “hmm, last June the high was 90.5 degrees F, but this June it was 90.89 degrees! OH MY GOD I WANT TO CHOP SOMEONES HEAD OFF!!!

george e. smith
Reply to  wws
March 4, 2015 5:31 pm

I would put the blame for the war in Syria squarely where it belongs; On the heads of the mohammedans

DD More
Reply to  george e. smith
March 5, 2015 11:24 am

Armed Forces Journal agrees with you. Them and a couple of gas pipelines.
Much of the media coverage suggests that the conflict in Syria is a civil war, in which the Alawite (Shia) Bashar al Assad regime is defending itself (and committing atrocities) against Sunni rebel factions (who are also committing atrocities). The real explanation is simpler: it is about money.
In 2009, Qatar proposed to run a natural gas pipeline through Syria and Turkey to Europe. Instead, Assad forged a pact with Iraq and Iran to run a pipeline eastward, allowing those Shia-dominated countries access to the European natural gas market while denying access to Sunni Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The latter states, it appears, are now attempting to remove Assad so they can control Syria and run their own pipeline through Turkey.

Reply to  george e. smith
March 5, 2015 11:33 am

Wow. Nice to see that in the AFJ.
You can lay the blame for the war in Syria squarely where in belongs…the U.S. State Dept. and CIA (as if there is a difference anyways)

Reply to  wws
March 4, 2015 7:04 pm

The temperature here today is around 90F, so far I haven’t been overwhelmed by an urge to murder anyone, though my wife looked mildly homicidal when I suggested we move closer to the equator, to get away from all this d@mned cold weather… 🙂

James Schrumpf
March 4, 2015 4:36 pm

This is a very sloppy statement from a scientific standpoint:

It is true that climate models do project a general drying trend in the Mediterranean region (including the Fertile Crescent region in the Eastern Mediterranean) as the climate warms under increasing greenhouse gas concentrations.

First, there is no evidence that any of the warming measured since 1850 or so is due to “greenhouse gas concentrations.” At best, it could be said there is a slight correlation between an increase in atmospheric CO2 and global temperatures. I’d bet that the same correlation could be made between any number of external events and global temperatures, but none of them have the statist appeal of “human activity.”
As one trained in the scientific method, it’s very frustrating to read sentences like, “No natural cause is apparent for these trends, whereas the observed drying and warming are consistent with model studies of the response to increases in greenhouse gases.” I could make an equally supported statement by saying, “No natural cause is apparent for these trends, whereas the observed drying and warming are consistent with model studies of the response to having angered the gods.”

March 4, 2015 4:43 pm

The Koran and its adherents caused the current crisis in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Reply to  Tom
March 4, 2015 4:55 pm

Climate change in action:
The Dead Cities (Arabic: المدن الميتة‎) or Forgotten Cities (Arabic: المدن المنسية‎) are a group of 700 abandoned settlements in northwest Syria between Aleppo and Idlib
Most villages which date from the 1st to 7th centuries, became abandoned between the 8th and 10th centuries.

Reply to  ferdberple
March 4, 2015 8:30 pm

Abandoned, or murdered?

Mike McMillan
Reply to  ferdberple
March 4, 2015 8:52 pm

Coincides with the Dark Ages cold period, and coincidentally the rise of islam.

Silver ralph
Reply to  ferdberple
March 5, 2015 9:56 am

If you go there, as I have done on several occasion, they will blame the abandonment of these Dead Cities on the great AD 750s earthquake, which levelled cities like Sepphoris south of Lake Galilee. Sepphoris was certainly abandoned due this quake, as it was left exactly as it fell.
However, if you go to the Dead Cities, all the houses and churches are still standing, to this day. So their abandonment was not due to the earthquake, it was due to the invasions of Islam. And we know this, because if you look at other cities, like Didyma in Turkey, Baalbek in Lebanon and Sbeitla in Tunisia, the citizens tore down their own fine houses to build makeshift defensive walls around the temples and forum.
Can you imagine the terror, to tear down everything you own, to build a defensive wall? That, was the terror of the arrival of Islam in the Near East and North Africa.

March 4, 2015 4:53 pm

The thermometer made me do it.

March 4, 2015 4:57 pm

Soooo . . . Globalwarminclimatechangeweatherweirding is indirectly responsible for ISIS too? I suspected as much. I strongly suspect Boko Haram also came into existence because of it too, and Putin’s clearly been driven mad by it. I could go on.
Why spend all that money on guns and stuff ? Clearly all we need is some large fans and a crack team of cloudbusters.
Is there an insanity contest going on that I don’t know about?
I’ll have to stop reading this site if I want to enter. . . .

Alan Robertson
Reply to  ChrisDinBristol
March 4, 2015 5:42 pm

It should also be obvious that “Jihadi John” was driven to ISIS due to Global Warming.

Phil B.
Reply to  Alan Robertson
March 5, 2015 12:57 am

As opposed to MI6 eh?

March 4, 2015 5:02 pm

What about food prices being increased by the biofuel scam?

March 4, 2015 5:10 pm

I did see a video that claimed that a system of dams in southern Turkey (possibly EU driven) has had a knock-on effect on this region (and some [of] Iraq). Is this so? Has this contributed to the drought?
Does anyone have any information on this?

March 4, 2015 5:10 pm

‘of’ Iraq. Typrunter on the blonk.

March 4, 2015 5:18 pm

“I can just imagine the simple Syrian villager saying to himself: “hmm, last June the high was 90.5 degrees F, but this June it was 90.89 degrees! OH MY GOD I WANT TO CHOP SOMEONES HEAD OFF!!!”
You would not have an easy time finding “a simple Syrian villager” in 2010 when the civil war started. The Syrians are far from simple, as I discovered during the 10 months I worked in the country on a project financed by the EU.
You are likely to get the question, “Where are you from?” And then be told that the “simple Syrian” has a brother or a son who has emigrated and lives down the road from you.

Reply to  Frederick Colbourne
March 4, 2015 9:56 pm

Thank you for taking the time to share this. It is not news for many but it will help some get a better grip on reality.

March 4, 2015 5:22 pm

Oh YAWN. The area has had droughts, has droughts, and will have droughts.
Historically, droughts and other natural disasters, have created movements of large numbers of people which have created human disasters, from before and through the bronze age and through the iron age into modern times. What’s new?
Genesis’s story of Joseph and the seven year drought shows a huge familiarity with the phenomenon from the authors of the story. This time round, there are guns involved instead of swords, spears, and arrows.

Pat Frank
March 4, 2015 5:30 pm

Climate models are notoriously bad at reproducing observed past precipitation, even after tuning.
Attempts to project or explain present or future trends in precipitation have no valid precedent of predictive success. Climate models have no demonstrable explanatory or predictive value.
A paper such as that of Martin Hoerling has zero explanatory content. It should never have been published in any self-respecting scientific journal.
The consensus field does not deserve the title, “Climatology,” or the standing of a science. As presently exploited, climate modeling should be renamed, ‘Climate Studies,’ and be moved to Humanities and Social Sciences. There ‘Climate Studies’ will be right at home among all the other cultural studies departments driven by a ‘critical theory,’ where being unfazed by annoying observational refutations is the standard of practice.

Reply to  Pat Frank
March 4, 2015 5:56 pm

Hear hear. Beautifully said.

Reply to  Pat Frank
March 4, 2015 6:02 pm

“Climate Studies” belongs here:
20 Completely Ridiculous College Courses Being Offered At U.S. Universities
1. “What If Harry Potter Is Real?” (Appalachian State University)
2. “God, Sex, Chocolate: Desire and the Spiritual Path” (UC San Diego)
3. “GaGa for Gaga: Sex, Gender, and Identity” (The University Of Virginia)
4. “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame” (The University Of South Carolina)
5. “Philosophy And Star Trek” (Georgetown)
6. “Invented Languages: Klingon and Beyond” (The University Of Texas)
7. “The Science Of Superheroes” (UC Irvine)
8. “Learning From YouTube” (Pitzer College)
9. “Arguing with Judge Judy” (UC Berkeley)
10. “Elvis As Anthology” (The University Of Iowa)
11. “The Feminist Critique Of Christianity” (The University Of Pennsylvania)
12. “Zombies In Popular Media” (Columbia College)
13. “Far Side Entomology” (Oregon State)
14. “Interrogating Gender: Centuries of Dramatic Cross-Dressing” (Swarthmore)
15. “Oh, Look, a Chicken!” Embracing Distraction as a Way of Knowing (Belmont University)
16. “The Textual Appeal of Tupac Shakur” (University of Washington)
17. “Cyberporn And Society” (State University of New York at Buffalo)
18. “Sport For The Spectator” (The Ohio State University)
19. “Getting Dressed” (Princeton)
20. “How To Watch Television” (Montclair)

Reply to  Max Photon
March 4, 2015 6:03 pm

#20 is a telecourse.

Reply to  Max Photon
March 4, 2015 6:42 pm

21. “The cultural stagnation impacts of Baywatch’s Jump-the-Shark” (Edukashun)

Reply to  Max Photon
March 5, 2015 11:23 am

max the “far side” course at Oregon State should be a required course. Nothing like a Gary Larsen cartoon to remind folks that a little humility and a sense of humor are important to possess. My personal favorite is the one with an Elephant wearing a fedora and overcoat standing in a dark alley and confronting this guy on the sidewalk “Remember me Fienwald-Kenya 1947- when you shoot an elephant you’d better finish the job” .

Reply to  Max Photon
March 5, 2015 3:07 pm

Not bad fossilsage, but my favorite is the kid pushing on the door to get into the School for the Gifted, labelled Pull.

March 4, 2015 5:39 pm

When was the last time a submarine captain got to show their stuff ?
Talk about a moat.

March 4, 2015 5:49 pm

they use the same AGW drought excuse for the cause of the ‘Arab Spring’ in Egypt and that was before the events in Syria

David Chappell
March 4, 2015 5:52 pm

In the headline, should it not be “Rebutting the claim…”, rather than “Rebuking…”
[Fixed, thanks. ~mod.]

March 4, 2015 6:02 pm

A despicable academic attempt to justify the barbaric behavior of the radical Islamists … justification in the eyes of all Islamist!! No amount of kowtowing to these medieval butchers will gain a favorable outcome for the apologists.

Steve from Rockwood
March 4, 2015 6:14 pm

At some point a contest “Global warming has caused…” would be well worth it as a Friday Funny. I just can’t take any of these articles seriously.

Catherine Ronconi
Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
March 4, 2015 6:35 pm

What takes the cake is that global warming caused global cooling and the “pause” in global warming. Or plateau. Whatever. Anything that happens is because of man-made global warming. The science is settled. It’s all bad and original sinning, capitalist human climate criminals are to blame.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Catherine Ronconi
March 5, 2015 6:38 am

The serial-crazy greenie who appeared to crow the AGW party line on CBC TV said last weekend, unopposed by the vacuous YL holding the mike, that CO2 emissions in China were directly responsible for the bitterly cold winter and all-time record cold February Canada just experienced. With logic like that, how can they even raise a penny for research?
The effect of his idiotic statements would be a bit less offensive (though no more logical) if they weren’t delivered in such a sneering, arrogant manner. He is in the permanent pay of a ‘green’ advocacy group. His actual ‘job’. Imagine! We are one way or another, paying for him to excavate deeper holes in the Mine of Ignorance and then paying a YL to give him a weekly (approx.) platform and paying again to transmit it over the whole of Canada, even as the deep freeze worsens. ‘Virgins and Volcanoes’ has more credibility than CAGW.
It we burn all the ‘climate stupid’ created by the CBC will we get net warming? Doesn’t it take energy to create ‘stupid’? Where does it come from? The source seems to be renewable – infinitely renewable.

Ben Palmer
Reply to  Steve from Rockwood
March 4, 2015 7:17 pm

“Global warming has caused…” The contest is already open, look no further than

March 4, 2015 6:21 pm

Global warming killed my aspidistra.
No, wait, I forgot to water it.
Still human caused, tho’.

March 4, 2015 6:22 pm

I’ve always harbored a mild suspicion that AGW triggered both the Yom Kippur War and Saddam’s invasion of Kuwait, so I’m a bit thrilled someone else made the connection.

Nigel in Toronto
March 4, 2015 6:28 pm

How do they know that a no drought condition would also not have strengthened the enemies resolve because of their extreme ideology?

March 4, 2015 6:33 pm

Funny that Martin Hoerling’s work is used to rebuke [sic] this study, as he’s quoted in the NYT:
Martin P. Hoerling, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration whose earlier work showed a link between climate change and aridity in the Eastern Mediterranean, said the researchers’ study was “quite compelling.”
“The paper makes a strong case for the first link in their causal chain,” Dr. Hoerling said in an email, “namely the human interference with the climate so as to increase drought likelihood in Syria.”

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  Barry
March 4, 2015 6:51 pm

The work and data in Hoerling et al 2012 is irrelevant to Hoerling’s opinion of this study. It should come as no surprise that there are inconsistencies and conflicts…this is climate science, after all. But congrats on that “strong case for the first link in their casual chain.” I can make a similarly strong case for the first link in the casual chain between human-emitted GHG accumulation in the atmosphere and the mental incompetence of AGW activists.

Robert Grumbine
Reply to  Michael Jankowski
March 5, 2015 8:21 am

PS dbstealey

Reply to  Michael Jankowski
March 6, 2015 12:36 pm

“grumbine” is ‘rodmol’, and many others.

Reply to  Barry
March 4, 2015 6:56 pm

What’s with the “sic”? Rebuke is spelled correctly.
Are you trying to appear intelligent?
Good luck with that.   ☺ 

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  dbstealey
March 4, 2015 7:00 pm

Of course he’s intelligent! He reads the New York Times!

Robert Grumbine
Reply to  dbstealey
March 4, 2015 7:07 pm

Dbstealey….the word “rebuke” should be “refute” which is why the “sic” is there.

Reply to  dbstealey
March 4, 2015 8:25 pm

No, Socrates. It is ‘rebutting’.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  dbstealey
March 5, 2015 6:39 am

‘rebutting’ is the goat’s second round.

Robert Grumbine
Reply to  dbstealey
March 5, 2015 8:19 am

“Rebute” and “Rebuke” are two different words.
This is why the “sic” was placed there…

Reply to  dbstealey
March 5, 2015 8:59 am

Grumbine/Socrates/beckleybud/juan/Richardson/rodmol/Gordon Ford, etc., etc.:
Quit bird-dogging my comments. You are a site pest, the ultimate sockpuppet. Go away!

Robert Grumbine
Reply to  dbstealey
March 5, 2015 9:04 am

Learn to use English properly

Reply to  dbstealey
March 5, 2015 9:45 am

Who you talkin’ to?? There are dozens, if not hundreds of comments with errors in English. Why do you feel the need to chase down my comments? And in fact, I was right. There should be no “sic” in Barry’s comment.
I use English better than 99% of anyone here [I’m not putting anyone here down, it just happens to be one of my strengths. I spel gud, too].
So, why me? Why do you have your fixation on my comments? Why do you bird-dog my comments like that, and not others? As a matter of fact, the headlines says “Rebutting”, which is perfectly fine. Yet you cannot see my name without feeling the overwhelming need to post something critical. Why?
I will tell you exactly why: I’ve run circles around you in every argument you started [which is all of them]. You don’t have what it takes to compete. A smarter guy would go after easier targets. But not you. You’re a chameleon who changes names in order to appear to have support [and to avoid your being banned]. You don’t really care about science. It may interst you. But you are far from being rigorous. It’s just something to play with.
This is politics for you. If it was about science, you would be a scientific skeptic — and you would admit it when the facts show you your view was wrong. Bt you don’t. You are constantly nitpicking things that don’t matter, or that matter very little, while you ignore the big picture: exactly none of the endless alarmist predictions have ever happened. They were wrong, all of them.
When someone is 100.0% WRONG in every alarming prediction they ever made, then reasonable and rational folks will realize that their original premise was so flawed that it must be entirely replaced. The ‘carbon’ scare is nonsense.
But like climate alarmists everywhere, you cannot admit the fact that there is nothing unusual or unprecedented happening. The past ±150 years have been extremely benign. You should be very happy that we have been so fortunate. But you’re not. Like any alarmist, you always look at the glass as being half empty. You have an intense desire to find doom, uncertainty, fear, and reasons to worry. But whenever I ask for evidence, like a simple measurement of AGW, you always change the subject. And you never, ever answer questions.
You are about as far from being a scientist as any 18th-Century witch doctor in Africa. The Scientific Method has no place in your world view; neither does the climate Null Hypothesis or Occam’s Razor. You post based on emotion, with a thin veneer of ‘science’, hoping to fool people. And of course, you have an unhealthy fixation on me. Anyone reading your comments can see it — no matter what screen name you’re using.
You’re not fooling anyone. When something waddles, and has feathers, and quacks, it is a duck. No matter what else it might claim to be.

March 4, 2015 6:42 pm

no matter what happens, blame it on global warming. you will be surprised how many laughs you get.

Michael Jankowski
Reply to  ferdberple
March 4, 2015 6:56 pm

Global warming ate my homework!

Reply to  ferdberple
March 4, 2015 7:45 pm

Ferdberple’s CAPS no longer work because of global warming 😉

March 4, 2015 6:57 pm

It was not climate change but climate change policy that may have contributed to the war in Syria as an extension of the Arab spring. In 2006, 2007 and 2008 the UN Food and Agriculture Organization warn the US and EU to stop subsidizing biofuels because of its impact on grains prices throughout the world. The combination of 2008/9 global economic recession and elevated food prices contributed the the economic instability and strife that drove common people into the streets in the dictatorships and oligarchies of North Africa and the Mideast. It is not CO2 but the progressive policy makers of the US and EU that are the greatest threat to human and ecological well being. While there are no climate refugees to be counted, there are over 50 million conflict refugees today. The highest number since WWII, 70 years ago.

Leo Morgan
Reply to  Frank
March 4, 2015 8:19 pm

You said it before me, and better than me. Congratulations.

snedly arkus
Reply to  Frank
March 5, 2015 2:08 am

Both Syria and Egypt made the mistake of getting loans from the IMF. Under the terms of these loans all subsidies for food and fuel were to be eliminated. In these 2 countries food and fuel make up over half of the budget for the majority of household and the elimination of subsidies created great hardships and the original protests. Protests that were hijacked by those with a different agenda changing the narrative. Adding fuel to the protests was the undervalued sale to cronies of government owned industries that was required by the IMF.

Reply to  Frank
March 5, 2015 5:53 am

The IPCC AR5 backs you up:
Conflict and Insecurity Associated with Climate Policy Responses
Research is beginning to show that climate change mitigation and adaptation actions can increase the risk of armed conflict, as well as compound vulnerabilities in certain populations. This is based on robust evidence that violent political struggles occur over the distribution of benefits from natural resources. Hence in circumstances where property rights and conflict management institutions are ineffective or illegitimate, efforts to mitigate or adapt to climate change that change the distribution of access to resources have the potential to create and aggravate conflict.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  Kristy
March 5, 2015 6:51 am

Right on. As money is sucked away from subsidies and pro-poor redistribution policies to fund boondoggles that rely on imported or licenced technologies (AKA ‘solutions’) there is no other outcome but that this ‘cure’ will cause social strife as the population fights over what public resources remain.
Governments withdraw subsidies at their peril. Indonesia, in a 4-year campaign, managed to change a large kerosene subsidy into a much smaller LPG subsidy – the most effective such attempt ever. Many others have failed to remove subsidies on kerosene and gasoline (Nigeria, Iran, various oil producers) save that huge unrest immediately followed.
By binding all countries into subsidising vast climate-related boondoggles which always involves making the cost of energy much higher (300-400%) there is somewhat of a guarantee that the developed countries, presently at risk of being out-produced and eventually out-invented by emerging developing countries, will retain their ‘leadership’ by being the only source of acceptable technologies and patented methods, which technologies and methods they will prescribe through their agencies. The ‘little children’ countries will be told they are not developed enough to understand what will and will not work because the foretelling models will all be in the hands of The Knowing and Wise.
Climate studies should be a branch of Political Science, Sub-titled, “Machiavellian”.

Michael Jankowski
March 4, 2015 6:57 pm

Maybe this is what’s behind the “secret deal with Iran”…let them have nuclear technology, because it’s not nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran that we have to fear, it’s the GHG emissions Iran would otherwise have.

March 4, 2015 6:58 pm

And gov. grants….

Walt D.
March 4, 2015 7:38 pm

There is no point writing a rebuttal to this – anyone who is gullible enough to believe it in the first place is beyond the point of no return.

Reply to  Walt D.
March 4, 2015 7:46 pm

You mean a rebukal.

Reply to  Max Photon
March 4, 2015 8:19 pm

Ya got something to say ?
Well say it.
All caps if you feel it necessary.

Reply to  Max Photon
March 4, 2015 8:46 pm

المدن الميتة‎ المدن المنسية‎

Reply to  Max Photon
March 4, 2015 9:01 pm

Bing translate:
Gives me “dead cities, forgotten cities”
So I reiterate, ya got something to say ?

Reply to  Walt D.
March 4, 2015 7:57 pm

I blame it all on the big bang.

Reply to  ozric101
March 4, 2015 8:34 pm

How does a comedy show start a war?
Oh, wait, cartoons do.

Leo Morgan
March 4, 2015 8:16 pm

This leaves out the context that we’d been feeding food to cars instead of people. Food became twice as expensive. Yes people starved and rioted. This was a result of fighting Global Warming, not because of it.

masInt branch 4 C3I in is
March 4, 2015 8:31 pm

Looks like a REAL Bureaucrat is OUTED:
“The Nobel Peace Prize committee demoted chairman Thorbjoern Jagland on Tuesday.”
And WHY?
He nominated and pushed through the “Obama Peace Award” for cause of …
“removing nuclear weapons from the world.”
Hardi Har Har
Obama and Kerry will give Iran [New Persian Empire] a Nuclear Weapons Program in just a few hours.
Do you remember what Sparta did to the Persian Emissary long ago?:
Ha ha
PS Bon Ki Moon still does not understand the difference of “White Man” and Caucasian.
In the Mind of Bon Ki Moon, “White Man” created the “Atomic Bomb” that killed his
Grand Parents in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He does not understand that the “atomic
Bomb[s]” dubbed “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” were mostly the creation of immigrant Jewish
scientists who fled Hitler’s “Germany”.
Who will flee Bon Ki Moon’s world, “The United Nations!”
That is a sad thing: given his understudy’s actions on a very innocent American Ambassador.

March 4, 2015 8:41 pm

Polanyi’s book “The Great Transformation” contains the most plausible explanation I have read for WWl/II. Everything he describes such as massive unemployment, loss of traditional ways of life and increasing separation in wealth are happening again and fascism is once again on the rise. There seems to be little need to look beyond self immolating economic policy exacerbated by the most tenuous of grips on reality (AGW) to understand what is happening in many of the war afflicted parts of the world.

March 5, 2015 12:33 am

So nothing to do with the CIA, Mossad, Saudi Arabia or others funding opposition groups then? Nothing to do with training and arming those that eventually became ISIS/ISIL then? Nothing to do with invading Iraq and destabilising the region, nothing to do with propping up dictators around the world until someone in the USA government becomes tired of them?
Nope, let’s look at climate change! If my eyes roll any more I will look like a Vegas one arm bandit.

Vince Causey
Reply to  wickedwenchfan
March 5, 2015 2:24 am

Now you know why Washington is so keen on ringing the climate change alarm bells.

snedly arkus
Reply to  wickedwenchfan
March 5, 2015 2:44 am

You have the proper narrative but the truly ignorant want to believe the propaganda that the Muslims can’t live together and they are fighting 4,000 year old feuds. These willfully ignorant people are too stupid to believe that these people are outraged with the US and it’s puppets for overthrowing their governments, destroying their cities and economies, killing their families and friends with many of them resorting to terrorism in response. In the US if we see something in the sky it’s no big deal but in more than 7 countries in the ME they head for cover as it may be terror and death from the skies US drone. Many thousands of innocent people are dead thanks to those drones, many of whom were participating in a wedding or family gathering.
Recently Iraqi government forces shot down 2 British planes and a US helicopter claiming they were intentionally dropping supplies to ISIS. Quite a few high ranking Iraqi officials claim this and are outraged that these incidents and many more where supplies and weapons were “accidentally” dropped to ISIS. Their country is at stake and their people are dying while the US is playing both sides to create instability and the eventual overthrow of the Assad regime in Syria. As with Libya, which is now a complete basket case with ISIS and Al Qaida training camps and beheadings, the US made up stories of massacres and other atrocities by the “tyrants” Assad and Kadaffi, eagerly printed and embellished by the mainstream press, to justify bombings and support for “vetted” rebels who in reality were Al Qaida and it’s offshoots. Contrary to the reports Assad and Kadaffi had the support of their people. ISIS is getting and spending huge sums of money with billions in goods passing through Turkey to their Syrian strongholds as has been documented by Deustche Welle in videos. Why isn’t the US making any attempt to shut off this funding and purchases of goods as the transactions must go through banks?

snedly arkus
Reply to  snedly arkus
March 5, 2015 2:50 am

If you want to remain stupid and ignorant call me a liar posting garbage. All this info is easy to check unless your too afraid to learn the truth and stick your head in the sand.

Vince Causey
Reply to  snedly arkus
March 5, 2015 5:28 am

Sadly, what you say is mostly true.

Crispin in Waterloo
Reply to  snedly arkus
March 5, 2015 7:06 am

The military-industrial policy of ‘pointless perpetual war’ needs viable enemies and reasons to invade oil-rich regions. Russia and China are viable but too scary. It is a ‘Western’ thing.
“Boko Haram” literally means “Western = Unclean”. As in, your hands and heart will be sullied by having anything to do with them. Testimonium quia ipsa loquitur.
The downing of Western aircraft dropping supplies to ISIS is absolutely extraordinary. Not on the news in Canada.
Regarding Libya, was Ambassador Chris Stevens about to reveal something ‘inconvenient’? Is that the Big Secret?

March 5, 2015 12:43 am

An earlier generation of social scientists or historians, not educated from the cradle in climate change theory, might attribute more significance to the following from the post above :
“For additional comparative purposes, population has roughly tripled in the last three decades.”
A rapid increase in the numbers of angry , jobless young men with ready access to automatic weapons and looking for an excuse to use them seems a rather more likely, if mundane, explanation for the conflict , but not as exciting for the the world’s press as “climate change created Jihadi John”.

Phil B.
March 5, 2015 12:54 am

lol. Pretty sure the triumvirate of evil, Qatar/Saudi Arabia/Israel and their determination to not only build their own natural gas pipelines to Europe but also stop Iran from building their Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline led to the war in Syria.

Vince Causey
March 5, 2015 2:12 am

Great. Do we also have a “climate change” explanation for the conflict in Ukraine, or have the alarmists been a little slow on this one? Perhaps the unseasonable cold (cold can be a symptom of climate change, remember), led the country to use more Russian gas than they could afford to pay for. Seeing the problem that could arise if the country signed the EU cooperation agreement (a loosening of ties with Russia), Yanukovich refused to sign. The rest is history.

Craig W
March 5, 2015 2:36 am

Climate change caused the US to leave it’s allies in the region to fend for themselves?
I wonder if climate change could help me win a lottery?

March 5, 2015 2:46 am

It’s mathematical; you multiply two negative numbers and you get a positive.
In this case did AGW cause the drought? Negative. Was the Syrian conflict caused by drought? Negative. You multiply those two negatives and you get the positive answer that AGW caused the Syrian war.
Another example of climate science brilliant and creative of use of numbers.

Vince Causey
Reply to  Alx
March 5, 2015 5:29 am

ok, but what happens if you add 2 negative number?

March 5, 2015 2:50 am

Syria and the Levant have strong droughts in cold times, not warm. See the 4200 kyear event. Once again AGW Warmista Chicken Littles have it exactly backwards.

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  E.M.Smith
March 5, 2015 8:41 pm

And around 3200 BP:

Ulric Lyons
Reply to  Ulric Lyons
March 5, 2015 8:44 pm

Notable cold-dry winters in Syria in the past:

March 5, 2015 4:28 am

One article in the popular press shows an image of baked-dry Syrian Kurdistan…in June 2010. June in the whole region is baked dry, all the time. Nice choice of picture, too bad it’s bullsh*t. Right now, in Iraqi Kurdistan, around Mosul & Erbil, it has rained every day, hard, for the last five days. The area is green as far as the eyes can see. Beautiful, even. Two summers ago (harvest is in the calendar late spring, mid May), it was a bumper wheat crop. The wheat trucks were lined up for miles waiting to get to market. ISIS hadn’t gotten up a head of steam. Now, they try to mount attacks in a quagmire.
As usual the stuff that “researchers say” is out of step with reality, mostly because they have never come close to actually seeing for themselves. It’s not “researchers SEE”.

March 5, 2015 8:23 am

This study is also relevant for the discussion:
Francesca de Châtel (2014): The Role of Drought and Climate Change in
the Syrian Uprising: Untangling the Triggers of the Revolution, Middle Eastern Studies, DOI:
“Drought forms a structural part of this (semi-)arid climate, with cycles of wet and dry years. Over the last 50 years, from 1961 to 2009, Syria experienced nearly 25 years of drought, which represents over 40 per cent of the period. On average, the droughts lasted around four and a half years each, though a drought in the 1970s lasted ten consecutive years. A number of droughts of two or more years had a significant impact on agricultural production and livestock in the country’s north-east: a drought in 1961 resulted in the loss of 80 per cent of the camel population and 50 per cent of sheep. In the 1998–2001 drought, 329,000 people (47,000 nomadic households) had to liquidate their livestock assets, suffered food shortages and required urgent food assistance, which was ‘not an exceptional occurrence’.”
“The link between climate change and drought in the Eastern Mediterranean region and in Syria has been highlighted in a number of studies based on climate models, which predict that the effects of climate change will lead to more frequent and harsher droughts, higher temperatures and lower and more unpredictable precipitation levels. However, other analysts point out that there is very little solid evidence to date of such changes. ‘The only available evidence that global warming will lead to more extreme weather events relies on modeling. Data do not really sustain this hypothesis so far.’”
“Data collected in Syria shows that the overall frequency of droughts had not increased over the last 20 years, except in one of Syria’s five agricultural zones. Yet farmers and Bedouins in affected areas perceived an increase in droughts. ‘One possible explanation is that the impacts of droughts may have become more severe due to higher population densities and groundwater depletion.”
“The Syrian uprising that started in March 2011 was sparked by a series of interrelated social, economic and political factors. While it is tempting to include ‘drought’ and ‘climate change’ in this list of triggers, it is important to keep a clear view of the correlations between the different causes and effects of events: 50 years of resource mismanagement and overexploitation caused the depletion of resources, which in turn led to growing disenfranchisement and discontent in Syria’s rural communities. The 2006–10 drought exacerbated an already existing humanitarian crisis. The government’s failure to adequately respond to this crisis was one of the triggers of the protests that started in March 2011, along with a host of political, economic and social grievances.”
“The possible role of climate change in this chain of events is not only irrelevant; it
is also an unhelpful distraction. In the context of the future of water management in
Syria, it distracts from much more tangible and real problems; in the context of the
uprising, it strengthens the narrative of the Assad regime that seizes every opportunity
to blame external factors for its own failings and inability to reform.”

Silver ralph
March 5, 2015 9:31 am

Copy of post, from earlier thread.
Richard Seager forgot to mention that:
a. There had been no Global Warming for 15 years prior to this conflict.
b. Most of Syria’s water shortages are due to Turkey’s new Attaturk Dam, which is stealing much of the waters of the Euphrates.
c. This conflict is not new – far from it. The modern conflict against the Alawites actually started in 1981-82 – against Hafez Assad, the father of Bashar Assad. His father did the same as Bashar in the current conflict, and killed up to 40,000 people in Hamma. Sorry, but was there any Global Warming in 1982?
And if you go back further in time you will find that the Alawites of Syria have been a grievously persecuted minority, and lived in the gutters of Syrian society, for more than 1,200 years. The Alawites only gained control of the Syrian army in the 1920s because the French wanted an ally in the region. They took control of the government in 1970, and having been persecuted for 1,200 years, they have wisely never relinquished that control. So why the persecution of the Alawites? Because the Alawites are really Nazarene Christio-Muslims, who have hidden behind a cloak of Islam and refuse to go to mosque.
This is why the Armenian and Syriac Christians in Syria have backed Assad and the Alawites all this time. Why? Because they know they are in the same boat as the Alawites. If Assad is defeated, they will be murdered and exiled too. This is why Hussain Obama’s military support for the Syrian terrorists is so pernicious, because what he is actually funding is the potential murder and exile of 4 million Christians and 4 million Christio-Alawites. So why would Hussain Obama want to fund the extermination of Christians? I’ll give you one guess.
And what does all of this have to do with Global Warming? Diddly Squat, as you all know. Dr Richard Seager of the Columbia University is merely another scientific prostitute, who has added ‘climate change’ to a report to get more funding. I wonder if he has a red light outside his office, and poses provocatively in the window?
Dr Richard Seager in his offices at Columbia University.,0.jpg

Silver ralph
March 5, 2015 9:46 am

Someone mentioned earlier, that the Alawites get a bad press. But think of it this way….
The Alawites are exactly the same as the grievously persecuted Yazidi tribe, except they have guns and tanks to defend themselves. Would anyone moan and complain, if the Yazidi bought some guns and defended their people? So why the international outrage about the Alawite tribe defending themselves?
Sorry, but this is the nature of Eastern politics. If you lose an election, you don’t get 5 years in the political wilderness. Instead, you have your house burned down and messages to leave the country. And not just the politicians, but the entire people too.
Remember that Syria, Jordan, Turkey and all of North Africa were 95% Christian – the Byzantine Empire. But they lost the election and were all exterminated or exiled. And they were not fully exiled from Turkey until 1915 (the Armenian Genocide) and 1922 (the Rhom Greek Genocide in Smyrna – the most tragic genocide of the 20th century, because Europe and America had 26 battleship in Smyrna harbour and did nothing). While Iraq used to be substantially Jewish, with the greatest Jewish seminary and university being located at Pumbedita (Fallujah). But they lost the election too and were exterminated and exiled. With the last Jewish eviction from Iraq being in 1947, when some 500,000 were exiled.
You cannot understand modern Eastern politics, without understanding the past.

Common Sense
Reply to  Silver ralph
March 5, 2015 6:14 pm

[Please provide a legitimate email address. ~mod.]

March 5, 2015 11:59 am

For crying out loud Ralph; you keep trying to inject history and political science into a debate that the environmentalists just need people to believe their take on. Pity they will never listen. Its not like there are not think tanks the world over that have scholars every bit as erudite as yourself who could provide background information to the New York Times or the Guardian or the relevant departments of government. The problem is real education does not necessarily result in policy consistent with “the agenda”

Reply to  fossilsage
March 5, 2015 3:42 pm

Yeah, I know, its like peeing into the wind sometimes. I have talked to BBC types, and it is like talking to educationally challenged children. Their knowledge of real-world subjects outside the BBC bubble of multiculturalism, environmentalism, drug abuse and gay rights is pitiful. Modern media and politics – the politics of Hussain Obama – is even worse than letting the inmates take over the institution, because at least inmates will understand the basics of life and self-preservation.

Common Sense
March 5, 2015 6:12 pm

[Please provide a legitimate email address. ~mod.]

March 6, 2015 2:45 am

I don’t see any point in “debunking” baloney claims like this. Rise of IS has to do with Turkish, Saudi etc. “takfiri” terror support and US foreign policy of destabilizing various surrounding countries in the area. Just like Al-Qaida rose out of the support for mujahedins in Afghanistan in the 1970s..

Reply to  Markus
March 6, 2015 10:13 pm

How old were you in the 1970s you speak of ?
When you give people with a 7th century mentality, modern weapons, they might get ideas in their head.
If they don’t get their baser instincts under control it’s gonna get really ugly.
We can do ugly, don’t you doubt it.

Reply to  u.k.(us)
March 7, 2015 7:22 am

The whole ME is full of tribal mentality.. Arming extremists for imperial foreign policy agendas leads to what we witness there now. I don’t need to have been born in the 50s (or whatever you’re impyling) to read up on that.

March 7, 2015 2:18 pm

Yup, I deserved that.
Now just out of curiosity, how old are you ?
I’m 52 years young.

March 8, 2015 12:05 am

These tree ring coring people aren’t even warm whereas Spengler nails it-

March 8, 2015 7:03 am

An abundance of fuel is one thing but to really burn you need ignition and a ready supply of oxygen to fan the flames-

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