President Barack Obama linked climate change to the emergence of the Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram and “the early unrest in Syria” during a commencement speech at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Conn., on Wednesday. Al Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)–now the Islamic State–were early factors in the Syrian rebellion.
“Understand climate change did not cause the conflicts we see around the world. Yet, what we also know is that severe drought helped to create the instability in Nigeria that was exploited by the terrorist group Boko Haram. It’s now believed that drought and crop failures and high food prices helped fuel the early unrest in Syria, which descended into civil war in the heart of the Middle East,” he said.
“Globally, we could see a rise in climate change refugees, and I guarantee you the Coast Guard will have to respond. Elsewhere, more intense droughts will exacerbate shortages of water and food, increase competition for resources and create the potential for mass migrations and tensions – all of which is why the Pentagon calls climate change a threat multiplier,” Obama said.