The fight against climate change will help in war against Islamic State

Anirudh Kannan
Anirudh Kannan |

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A member of the Islamic State roams the streets in Syria.

Control over oil fields. Human trafficking. Saudi Arabia’s sycophantic adherence to an ultra-conservative form of Sunni Islam.

What do these three concepts have in common?

They’ve all been given as the reason (or reasons) behind the Islamic State’s skyrocketing growth in numbers and its fast-paced colonisation of Middle Eastern regions.

On December 2nd, the UK’s House of Commons decided to order airstrikes against Daesh, as the militant group is mockingly known. Later that night, four Tornado jets took off from an RAF base in Akrotiri, Cyprus, each armed with three 225kg Paveway bombs: high-precision projectiles designed to hit a static target. The static target turned out to be the Omar oil field in eastern Syria, in an attempt to slow the rivers of revenue IS gets from their oil business.

Despite their success, it’s unlikely that the airstrikes did anything other than make the terrorist organisation even more attractive to potential recruits. The airstrikes may have dealt the group a superficial blow, but what the House of Commons failed to understand is that this is a drop in the ocean for IS, and it won’t hurt them in any long term way.

Neither are crackdowns on human trafficking, or accosting Saudi Arabia over their religious consistency with IS’ understanding of Islam.

There’s a much better solution out there that anyone can be a part of. One that acts as a panacea for many of Syria’s problems. One that can economically stimulate the war-torn state. One that can restore fertility to its land and supply productive work for its citizens.

Such a solution may sound impossible or fantastical, but it is very real.

Fight climate change.

Yes, that old thing. It might seem strange, but climate change is a core reason behind IS’ success, and a large contributing factor behind its impressive growth numbers.

Recent droughts in Syria have devastated the region, damaging its infrastructure, leading to the spread of disease, and contributing to the insecurity and uncertainty that has crept in – making “a bad situation a lot worse,” according to US Secretary of State John Kerry.

However, it has also crippled the economy and sent unemployment rates through the roof, leaving a lot of people jobless, homeless, and hopeless. This is where IS’ recruitment strategy comes in – they lure out-of-work farmers and agricultural workers, who don’t have a choice due to the state of their farms, into their ranks. This strategy has proved fruitful and rewarding, resulting in an upswing in recruit numbers, and an ever-growing number of people clamouring to join the terrorist group’s ranks.

So, want to defeat IS, once and for all? Don’t use so much water when you shower. Turn off the lights when you leave the room. Pull on a sweater instead of turning on the heater. You might just have dealt them a blow.