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Saturday, October 03, 2015

In defence of Charlotte Church

Now there is a headline I did not think I would be typing. However, in fairness to the singer and reborn political activist her appearance on Question Time on Thursday demonstrated just how unsuited television is to complex and unfashionable arguments.

First, a refresher: according to today's Western Mail Charlotte Church is sticking to her guns:

Church drew what a number of commentators described as “stunned silence” at All Nations Church in Cardiff after claiming that drought in Syria had contributed to social unrest in the war-torn country.

She told the audience: “There is evidence to suggest that climate change was a big factor in how the Syrian conflict came about.

“From 2006 to 2011, they experienced one of the worst droughts in its history which meant that there were water shortages and there was a mass migration from rural areas of Syria into the urban centres which put more strain on resources which apparently did contribute to the conflict there today.”

She concluded: “No issue is an island, so we also need to look at what we’re doing to the planet and how that might cause more conflict.”

Protests on Twitter by people like Sunday Telegraph Westminister commentator Will Heaven who wrote: “Turn over to Question Time. Hear Charlotte Church blaming the Syria war on climate change. Jump out of the window.” deliberately misrepresented what she said.

Clearly, the Syrian conflict was not started by climate change. There are a whole series of unsavoury and evil people there who have started this war for entirely selfish reasons. However, history does teach us that civil war and conflict flourishes where there is poverty and hardship, no matter what the cause. And it is often easier for insurgents to get a hold on the general population in such circumstances.

If we do not understand these lessons then we are doomed to repeat the mistakes that have led to suffering time after time all across the world. That is why overseas aid budgets are so important. Stepping into a crisis and alleviating suffering can stop conflict in its tracks and leave extremists isolated and friendless.

We should give Charlotte Church credit for reminding us of that lesson.
Drought and the population of Syria which has QUADRUPLED since 1970.
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