Is Global Warming Responsible for the Syrian Civil War, ISIS and the Refugee Crisis?

The real cause of the Syrian Civil War, the refugee crisis and the rise of the pestilence known as ISIS might be global warming. One can make a strong case that climate change and not George W. Bush or Bashar Al-Assad is the real cause of the collapse of Syria and all the problems it created.

It was not widely reported in the United States, but between 2006 and 2011 Syria suffered its worst drought on record, which is saying a lot because Syrian civilization is over 3,500 years old. The drought was more intense and longer lasting than could be explained by normal weather variations.

What the Media Did Not Tell You about Syria

The drought was also devastating. Around 85% of the livestock died, and nearly one million Syrians lost their farms. One reason they lost their farms was that nearly all the water rights in the country were controlled by supporters of second-generation dictator Bashar Al-Assad. Farmers that tried to drill for water on their own land could be arrested and terrorized by Assad’s thugs.

The unemployed farmers poured into the cities, which created civil unrest, poverty, and economic collapse and fueled revolution. When Assad’s armies moved against protestors, the result was civil war. One of the consequences of the civil war was that ISIS was able to expand into Syria. Another is a growing refugee crisis that is turning into a nightmare for Europe.

The situation in Syria is getting worse as foreign powers, including Russia, the United States, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, are getting drawn into the fighting. The prospect of all-out war in the country is growing, particularly if Israel gets drawn in.


A more detailed version of the story is available in this fascinating and disturbing online comic book created by Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche. In his commentary, Quinn notes that many seasoned Middle Eastern observers, including journalists and intelligence analysts, were caught by surprise by the revolution in Syria.

Pentagon Agrees Climate Change Drought Partially Responsible for Syrian Crisis

What is truly disturbing is that the Pentagon agrees with Quinn’s assessment of the situation. A recent report to Congress from the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) called NATIONAL SECURITY IMPLICATIONS OF CLIMATE RELATED RISKS AND A CHANGING CLIMATE states:

“For example, from 2006 to 2011, a severe multi-year drought affected Syria and contributed to massive agriculture failures and population displacements. Large movements of rural dwellers to city centers coincided with the presence of large numbers of Iraqi refugees in Syrian cities, effectively overwhelming institutional capacity to respond constructively to the changing service demands.”

In plain English, that means government and services effectively collapsed because there were too many people in those cities. One of the underlying causes was drought caused by climate change created by global warming sparked by greenhouse gases from pollution.

This is truly frightening because we have seen such droughts elsewhere in the world, notably in California, which is in the midst of its worst drought in 1,000 years. Hundreds of families in at least one community, East Porterville, are now without running water because the drought is causing wells to dry up.


The DOD report is particularly frightening because it outlines U.S. military plans to respond to such droughts and other climate change-caused problems all over the world. The Pentagon is planning massive military responses to such crises with the armed forces of other nations.

Could Climate Change Lead to War?

Climate change has already sparked civil war in Syria, but could it lead to war between nations? History tells us that it could.

The French Revolution of 1789 was partially sparked by poor harvests in France that caused hunger and civil unrest. That led to political unrest and the collapse of the regime. It also led to an all-out European war when other nations attacked in an effort to restore the Bourbon Monarchy.


The resulting power vacuum led to the rise of Napoleon and a series of wars that lasted for nearly 25 years and devastated Europe in the process. If climate change leads to failed harvests, economic collapse and food shortages in other parts of the world, we could see similar conditions. It is already happening in Syria, the only thing that has not happened there yet is the appearance of a Napoleon type strongman which I imagine is imminent.

Another probable development is foreign involvement and foreign armies fighting over the region. Only political pressure in the U.S. and Europe has kept NATO troops out, but increasing ISIS attacks and the potential presence of Russian forces in Syria could change that.

Is the Middle East Our Future?

One has to wonder if we could see similar developments in other parts of the world, such as Latin America, Africa and parts of Asia. We could see large movements of refugees, regime collapse and the rise of cadres of militarized fanatics such as ISIS determined to take the conflict further afield. ISIS has already attacked Saudi Arabia and threatened to attack the United States and Europe.


Already some Middle Eastern nations, including Saudi Arabia and Israeli, are fortifying their borders to keep terrorists and refugees out. Fighting is going on in several countries of the region, including Yemen, Egypt, Libya and Iraq as well as Syria. The only thing keeping Saudi Arabia from collapse is oil revenues, something that could change if oil prices fall to $20 a barrel as some analysts predict.

We need to ask ourselves if this is the kind of world we want to live in. If the answer is no, we need to follow Bill Gates’ lead and make massive investments in alternative energy sources such as hot fusion now. Gates has plans to invest $1 billion of his own money in clean energy technology, including next generation nuclear reactors, over the next five years to fight global warming.

The Microsoft founder is particularly worried about the effect of climate change on poor farmers. The world’s richest man made this very salient point on his blog:

“Higher temperatures and less-predictable weather would hurt poor farmers, most of whom live on the edge and can be devastated by a single bad crop. Food supplies could decline. Hunger and malnutrition could rise. It would be a terrible injustice to let climate change undo any of the past half-century’s progress against poverty and disease—and doubly unfair because the people who will be hurt the most are the ones doing the least to cause the problem.”

Gates’ solution is to promote new technologies that generate electricity without emitting carbon dioxide, which causes global warming and climate. Hopefully, other philanthropists and governments will follow his lead, especially since we could be close to developing commercially-exploitable hot fusion reactors.

What Does It Mean for Investors?

Naturally, many people will wonder what this means for investors and the economy. That is hard to say, but I will make a few predictions.

Some commodities, such as grains, could go up in value if droughts or other catastrophes lead to food shortages. Farm land in areas with plentiful water supplies such as parts of the American Midwest could become more valuable even as land in arid areas like California loses value.

Alternative means of farming such as hydroponics could become commercially viable in the face of food shortages. Also valuable will be next generation irrigation such as drip irrigation. One way to cash in could be to become familiar with the food commodities market so you can invest as food supplies fall.

Companies that specialize in nonpolluting or less polluting sources of electricity such as solar panel supplier Solar City Corp (NASDAQ: SCTY) could benefit as could  Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA), which supplies both electric-powered vehicles and battery storage. Such developments make Elon Musk’s investment in the massive battery manufacturing facility known as the gigafactory look far less crazy.

A long-term shift away from fossil fuels will benefit makers of electric vehicles, in other words Tesla. Food shortages and unrest boost the price of some commodities, such as gold, while undermining others, such as war.

Very cynical or patriotic individuals might want to invest in defense contractors, particularly those that specialize in next generation weapons technologies such as drones and military robotics. This would include Google Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOG) subsidiary Boston Dynamics and more traditional organizations such as General Dynamics (NYSE: GD) and Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT).

Currency traders that want to bet against countries vulnerable to global warming could also benefit. Another fascinating investment could be Bitcoin, which could serve as a refuge for money fleeing collapsing economies or currencies.

It looks as if the world is going to be a very different place because of global warming. Those that are aware of the perils climate change poses and the opportunities it creates could be in a position to profit from it.