[Marxism] Revolution in a Warming World: Lessons from the Russian to the Syrian Revolutions - The Bullet

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Oct 2 06:41:13 MDT 2018

By Andreas Malm.

This academic debate now has a testing ground where the stakes count in 
millions of human lives: Syria. In the years leading up to the outbreak 
of the 2011 revolution, that country reeled under an epochal drought. 
Sustaining the agriculture of the Mediterranean basin since time 
immemorial, a relatively stable regime of rainfall coming in from the 
sea between November and April abruptly gave way, in the 1970s, to a 
trend of ever more fickle precipitation and persistent drying.9 The 
worst effected corner was the Levant, particularly the area known as the 
Fertile Crescent, and particularly the part of it located in Syria. 1998 
marked another shift toward semi-permanent Syrian drought, the severity 
of which, tree rings reveal, has no equivalent in the past 900 years.10 
Not only have the winter rains failed, but the higher temperatures have 
also sped up evaporation in summertime, depleting groundwater and 
streams and parching the soil.11 There is no natural explanation for the 
trend. It can only be ascribed to the emissions of greenhouse gases.

The Syrian drought reached its highest peak of intensity so far in the 
years 2006-2010, when the sky stayed blue for longer than anyone could 
remember. The breadbasket of the northeastern provinces collapsed. Wheat 
and barley crops more than halved; by February 2010, nearly all 
livestock herds had been obliterated. In October of that year, the 
calamity reached the pages of the New York Times, whose reporter 
described how ‘hundreds of villages have been abandoned as farmlands 
turn to cracked desert and grazing animals die off. Sandstorms have 
become far more common, and vast tent cities of dispossessed farmers and 
their families have risen up around the larger towns and cities of 
Syria.’12 Estimates range between one and two million displaced farmers 
and herders. Fleeing the wastelands, they hunkered down on the outskirts 
of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs, Hama, joining the ranks of proletarians 
seeking to find a living from construction work, taxi-driving, or any 
other, mostly unavailable, job. But they were not alone in feeling the 
heat. Due to the drought, the marketplaces of the country exhibited one 
of the central vectors of climatic influence on popular livelihoods: 
doubling, tripling, uncontrollably spiking food prices.13

full: https://socialistproject.ca/2018/04/revolution-in-a-warming-world/

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