The President has made a specious connection between “climate change” and “terrorism” the hallmark of his trip to Paris’s COP21 event. Speaking yesterday to a press gathering, the President even went so far as to state that COP21’s resultant climate accord would be nothing short of a slap in the face to terrorists who struck Paris just weeks ago. But while the President has spoken in generalities, others, like Prince Charles and America’s Bill Nye “The Science Guy” (who is not, by any stretch, a climate scientist), have been more specific, claiming that the Paris attacks — and more widely, the rise of ISIS — can be traced directly back to a drought in Syria they claim was caused by global warming.
“It’s very reasonable that the recent trouble in Paris is a result of climate change,” Mr. Nye, who discusses global warming at length in his new book “Unstoppable,” told HuffPost Live Monday. “There is a water shortage in Syria, this is fact based — small and medium farmers have abandoned their farms because there’s not enough water, not enough rainfall. And especially the young people who have not grown up there, have not had their whole lives invested in living off the land, the young people have gone to the big cities looking for work.
“There’s not enough work for everybody, so the disaffected youths, as we say, the young people who don’t believe in the system, believe the system’s failed, don’t believe in the economy are more easily engaged and more easily recruited by terrorist organizations, and then they end up part way around the world in Paris shooting people,” he said
On the contrary: the Paris attackers were, uniformly, European nationals, according to top EU officials. The majority were French or Belgian citizens, and although some had forged Syrian passports, it’s more likely they used the Syrian migration as a simple way of moving from country to country; they were not, as far as we know, recruited from a crowd of unemployed Syrian farmers.
But the problems with Nye’s statement goes deeper. Since 2013, according to the Telegraph, climate activists have been claiming that terrorism is directly linked to climate change, based on a faulty, inaccurate reading of a paper by Colin Kelley. Kelley himself, after finding out that environmentalists had been using his data as proof of a connection between climate change and terrorism noted, “we are not arguing that the drought or even human-induced climate change caused the uprising.” And, according to further data, although it does seem that Syria suffered a minor drying period in 2008, Syrian wheat crops have mostly recovered. And while farmers have, indeed, slowed down production over the last several years, the cause isn’t dryer than normal weather conditions — it was (and is) a despotic leader.
An even more comprehensive recent paper by Roger Andrews on Energy Matters shows that there was nothing unusual about the brief drought in the late 2000s. Going back to 1950 there had been several worse droughts before. The real driver of the move from the land was Assad’s near-tripling of diesel prices, badly hitting farmers who relied on irrigation-pumps to feed Syria’s population.
Addressing terrorism is important, but it’s unlikely that terrorism can be solved through the lens of climate change. Instead, it seems, the “connections” between terrorism and climate change are used mostly as a marketing strategy.