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Climate Change & Security: 2018 Iranian edition

January 3rd, 2018 · 3 Comments

Iran is in turmoil.

People are protesting in the streets — calling for more openness and, even more strongly, policies to boost economic performance. As to the latter, for example, calls to end Iran’s major support for various militant and military forces (Syria, Hamas, otherwise ..>) and use that money at home.

The protests are serious.

There have been a variety of crackdowns, with at least several dozen killed so far.

It is serious enough that the Tweeter in Chief, @RealDonaldTrump, has spoken up.

As to the last, amid Trump’s apparent belief that ice cubes in the freezer disprove climate science, Team Trump is unlikely to recognize how human-driven climate change is a serious contributing factor.

A 14-year drought has emptied villages …

A 14-year drought caused, in part, by human-driven climate change is a major contributing factor to the unrest in Iran.

Let’s be clear: just one can’t say ‘the Syrian Civil War was created by human-driven climate change’, climate change is just one of many factors driving today’s unrest in Iran. Bad government economic policies, few jobs for young people, continued efforts to suppress openness, massive increases in smart phone ownership (with less fettered access to the world and each other), and … there are a multitude of factors at play in this complex situation. But one cannot (unless rejecting realities, like Trump and his #alternativefacts supporters) deny that human-driven climate change,

  • is helping drive the disruption/unrest in Iran (with a 14-year drought), and
  • is disrupting international security and creating increased risks for upheaval, refugee movements, conflict.


For photographs of

The Impacts of Climate Change in Iran,

see Ako Salemi’s work.

“Fishermen at a small port in Sistan, Iran are looking into the dried Hamoon lake, where once was a place for fishing but after big drought in last decade they lost their jobs and most of them have immigrated to large cities around. December 2016” Ako Salemi (

PS: Trump’s tweet

The majority of American voters, like Iranians, are working to oust a corrupt, extremist, anti-democratic cabal in charge of government.

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 John Egan // Jan 4, 2018 at 7:48 am

    Good lord! Yes, there are many factors, but one may place climate change far, far down on the list. The problem with climatistas is that EVERYTHING is climate change – from the Greenland ice sheet to my Aunt Florence’s bunions. And you’d better believe it or else.

    Meanwhile, other crucial progressive issues go wanting. When you have 40,000-plus attending climate conferences year after year while poverty and population hardly receive notice, then you shouldn’t be surprised when Trump wins Pennsylvania and the AfD wins Saxony.

    Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of Iran’s geography would know that the eastern provinces are not just semi-arid – but desert.

    Less than 125mm is less than 5 inches of annual precip – extreme desert. Less than 250mm, less than 10 in. is desert. Less than 375 is semi-arid. Think Yuma, Phoenix, and Tucson.

    Not only do arid climates have limited precipitation, but rainfall is highly irregular. That’s why there are so many warnings about dry washes in the Southwest. They can be dry for 10 years and raging torrents for 2 days.

    And then there’s population. The chief failure of climatistas is their refusal to address the issue of population and its impact on the environment. Talk about “deniers”. Iran’s population has quadrupled – from 20M to 80M – since 1960. Iran’s economic development is highly uneven, but follows a classic pattern – economic and social opportunities are almost exclusively located in urban areas.

    So, you don’t know your history, either. In 1960, Iran was 75% rural, now it is 25%. And it will probably continue. From the Highlands of Scotland to the plains of Poland to the red clay country of Georgia, this process has been ongoing for 200 years throughout the world.

    Your attacking rudeness is rather disgusting.

    This post did not say ‘all climate’ and has other issues raised — with no suggestion of even trying to discuss every issue.

    Centuries ago there were droughts and famines and peasants simply died. (Although I hear that Joseph’s family went to Egypt long ago.) In developing nations, they can abandon their hopeless village penury and seek a better life in rapidly-developing cities.

    Nowhere in your argument or in the arguments of those you quote do you suggest a compelling causal link to climate change. It’s bad science – and worse – it’s bad politics and history.

    Either grow up or stop pissing here.

  • 2 John Egan // Jan 6, 2018 at 11:21 am

    PS – I’m calling bullshit on your photo.

    “My photo” … sigh … go to the photographer and his body of work.

    Sistam is on the border of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the Baluchistan region. It’s the driest province of Iran.

    Lake Hamun is an endothermic lake – i.e. no outlet – shallow, and dependent on inflow from the distance Hindu Kush and other mountains. Over the past 50 years there has been massive population growth and also massive water diversions throughout the basin. Duh!

    This post makes no assertion that 100% of the problems — or even majority of problems — are from climate change.

    To deny that climate change is influencing the situation is, well, to simply deny reality.

    The regional city of Zabol has an average annual precipitation of 2.27 inches – 2.27 friggin’ inches. Its average high temperatures in June, July. and August are well over 100F – with records of 120F each month.

    Guess what, those temperatures have been going up in the region:

    Significant, increasing trends have been found in the annual maximum of daily maximum and minimum temperature, the annual minimum of daily maximum and minimum temperature, the number of summer nights, and the number of days where daily temperature has exceeded its 90th percentile. Significant negative trends have been found in the number of days when daily temperature is below its 10th percentile and daily temperature range.


    long-term annual and monthly trends in mean maximum, mean minimum and mean temperature are investigated at 35 synoptic stations in Iran. The statistical significance of trends is assessed by the Mann–Kendall test. Most stations, especially those in western and eastern parts of country, had significant positive trends in monthly temperature time series in summer season.

    and …

    Climate change – – hardly.

    Climate change — exactly.

  • 3 John Egan // Jan 8, 2018 at 8:24 pm

    Dear Adam –

    You are so full of it.
    Usually, I would not use such an expression, but your response above calls for nothing less.

    You have consistently done two things over the past decade as you have done in this post and response. First, from the time you referred to my ideas as Neanderthal, you have used ad hominems to disparage me. I suspect, because I have not gotten on board. Second, you have continued to play fast and loose with data – as far too many climate activists do. And you get miffy when I call you out.

    Clearly, your post seeks to paint climate as one of the key elements in the current political unrest in Iran and, via the Johnson Tweet, Syria as well. That is a basic reading of your argument. Also, when you post a photo on your blog – it is “your photo” in the sense of the discussion because you, ahem, chose to use it.

    You and your ilk are contributing to the rise of right-wing extremism in the U.S. and Europe because you have taken the progressive left hostage to an uncompromising climate agenda.

    Let me state that again. YOU are responsible for the rise of right-wing extremism.

    I’m gay and I see the inexorable rise of the right – certainly in Poland, Hungary, and Austria, but also in Germany, France, Sweden, and the Netherlands. Not to mention the ole U.S. of A. One would think that people in other racial/ethnic/religious minorities would have some degree of concern, too.

    I’ve always been a bit suspicious when the IMF, World Bank, and Wall Street jump on board an issue that is supposedly “progressive”. At the very least, it encourages me to be cautious. But as I have said before, when somebody has to drive twice as far to make half as much, they will give the middle finger to anyone who demands that gas prices need to double. And that is essentially what you and the climate fringe do.

    When you begin to offer a more comprehensive and holistic cultural and political perspective, then perhaps there might be some hope of its implementation. Until then, you are just pissing in the wind – speaking of pissing.

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