Congressman Zinke was right back in 2010 when he argued that climate change posed a serious threat to American national security. In the December 7 edition of the New Yorker, Elizabeth Kolbert argues that four years of drought in Syria contributed to the conditions that led to the civil war and ensuing refugee crisis:
In the winter of 2007, the rainy season never really began. The next year was worse; the country experienced its driest winter on record. Wheat production failed, many small farmers lost their herds, and prices of basic commodities more than doubled. In the summer of 2008, according to a leaked diplomatic cable, Syria’s minister of agriculture told officials from the United Nations that the consequences of the drought, both economic and social, were “beyond our capacity as a country to deal with.” Meanwhile, Syria’s representative to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization warned American officials that the situation was contributing to “a perfect storm” that could undermine the country’s stability, and asked for aid. (The Americans, the leaked cable shows, were unmoved by this appeal.) The drought persisted through the following winter and the winter after. Hundreds of thousands of people abandoned the countryside and moved to cities like Homs, Damascus, and Aleppo. There they joined more than a million similarly desperate Iraqi refugees.
Given his tendency to talk about the threat posed by Syrian refugees, perhaps someone in the Montana media can ask the Congressman to explain why he no longer believes climate change is a threat. At a minimum, perhaps someone can send him a copy of Kolbert’s excellent Field Notes from a Catastrophe: Man, Nature, and Climate Change.
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