Syria and California have both recently suffered their worst-ever droughts, exacerbated by global warming. Syria's may have helped trigger its bloody civil war, but not California's, which instead brought vermin invasions and wildfire. The difference points to the resilience that will be needed in a warming world.
Colin Kelley of the University of California, Santa Barbara, and his colleagues analysed Syrian weather data since 1931, and found steadily less winter rainfall, which is crucial for crops, and higher temperatures, which dry soils faster. The only explanation for such a change over that timescale lies in man-made greenhouse emissions, says Kelley. Climate models, his team found, consistently predict such changes for the Fertile Crescent, the Middle Eastern area that includes Syria and Iraq .