May 30, 2013 – We are offered so little worthwhile analysis by American mainstream media. I had understood that the civil war in Syria was an outgrowth of the Arab Spring – an apparently spontaneous demand for freedom from previously abject populations. After reading Joe Romm’s article Syria Today is a Preview of Memorial Day 2030, I’m convinced the Arab Spring was a catalyst, and nothing more. Romm quotes from a Tom Friedman article, Without Water, Revolution:
“The drought did not cause Syria’s civil war,” said the Syrian economist Samir Aita,
but … the failure of the government to respond to the drought played a huge role
in fueling the uprising … after Assad took over in 2000 he opened up the regulated
agricultural sector in Syria for big farmers, many of them government cronies, to buy
up land and drill as much water as they wanted, eventually severely diminishing the
water table. This began driving small farmers off the land into towns, where they had
to scrounge for work …
Then, between 2006 and 2011, some 60 percent of Syria’s land mass was ravaged by the
drought and, with the water table already too low and river irrigation shrunken, it wiped
out the livelihoods of 800,000 Syrian farmers and herders, the United Nations reported …
with Assad doing nothing to help the drought refugees, a lot of very simple farmers and
their kids got politicized.”
It was not the drought, it was the response – or lack thereof – to the drought that caused Syria’s civil war. Not ideology, not theology, not the Arab Spring. How many other governments are equally as ill-prepared to respond to climate volatility and the accompanying loss of livelihood? Thomas Fingar, an intelligence analyst, believes the chickens will come home to roost by the mid-2020s. “Floods and droughts will trigger mass migrations and political upheaval in many parts of the developing world.”
Add to climate catastrophe the compounding factor of population growth and the concomitant rise in demand for food, freshwater and energy, and the outlook is bleak indeed. My greatest concern in reading these projections for the future is the utter lack of willingness to admit that humans will live at a greatly reduced standard of living. Writers insist that future generations will demand all the niceties of life during the late 20th century – and that their demands will be treated as though they were reasonable! I keep wondering, where is the person brilliant enough to figure out that nothing could be further from the truth?
It’s time to tell ourselves and each other the true story of our diminished future, and of how life can still be good, even without overabundance.