There are some who hold that the root of the Syrian Civil War was due to the effect of climate change. Will global warming be responsible for unrest in Iran next?
People in Iran's southwestern Khuzestan province are desperate. The whole province is parched. Suffering from drought and water shortages since March, they've taken to the streets in the last couple of weeks to express their anger with the government and its poor management of water resources. According to official sources, at least four men, including one policeman, have died in the protests. But protests have already spread to other provinces; on July 23, a 20-year-old demonstrator died in the city of Aligudarz, in the western province of Lorestan. According to Amnesty International, as of that date security forces using live ammunition had already killed at least eight people in seven Iranian cities.
The head of Iran's meteorological service has said the months from October 2020 to mid-June 2021 were the driest in the past 53 years, and that the average temperature in the country has increased by 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) since the late 1960s. Meanwhile, rainfall has decreased by as much as 20% in the last two decades. The Karun, which flows through Khuzestan, is Iran's largest and only navigable river — in theory, that is. It has now dried up.
Environmental experts have said the current water shortage is also the consequence of a mistaken understanding of agriculture development and progress. The government continues to be focused on maximizing self-sufficiency, in response to sanctions. It has been promoting agriculture and allowing the digging of deep wells, which have exhausted the available water resources. The traditional crops in Khuzestan are rice and sugar cane, both of which require large amounts of water. Around 90% of Iran's total water consumption is used up by agriculture. Iran's groundwater reserves have declined over the past 14 years. The paper demonstrated that 76% of Iran's surface area suffers from excessive exploitation of groundwater reserves, above all by agriculture.
Experts have been warning that some regions in Iran's south and east that are considered arid or very arid are in danger of becoming permanently uninhabitable. If this were to happen, millions of Iranians could be forced to move and start over elsewhere.