With the refugee crisis causing the mass migration of millions of families from the Middle East, notably from Syrians fleeing civil war, the global community has been occupied with the urgent need to lend assistance to these people seeking shelter and safety. While this is an urgent crisis that rightfully deserves incredible attention and action from all countries, there is a real problem that underlies why these people are fleeing; a problem which is largely going undiscussed

While there can be no doubt that the violence of the civil war is a leading cause of the mass migration of these refugees, there cannot also be a discussion of this crisis without understanding the part that climate change played in this situation. Shortly before the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, the country experienced a profound drought. The drought was the most severe in contemporary history.

A study found that the drought that afflicted Syria between 2006 and 2009 was largely caused by a cyclical drying of the land that seems to be entirely man-made. This drought it is believed helped set the underlying tension of the societal unrest in the city that helped balloon tensions into a civil war by 2011.

As a millennial greatly interested in climate change this story is frightening. I have read Naomi Klein’s This Changes Everything and David Mitchell’s Bone Clocks and this Syrian crisis to me seems to be the very thing both authors discuss. Klein’s work is much more analytical and  data driven while Mitchell’s novel uses climate change as the backdrop for an engaging story. Nevertheless, the narrative both authors give is one of dramatic climate change if direct action is not taken.

Apart from the humanitarian crisis caused by such massive human displacement, we cannot ignore that this is also an environmental crisis; a canary in the coal mine of human and climate interactions. The effects of the drought in Syria highlight that our climate is changing and that climate change is not a cause celeb of the left. It is a crisis that has the potential to impact not just the climate, but our economy, our national security, and our very lives. We cannot pretend that this is a problem that only affects the Middle East or that can only affect poor nations. Climate change will impact us all and we cannot be derelict in our duty to safeguard our global community and our very globe.