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People Protest Outside Iran's London Embassy

Leon Neal/Getty Images

The protests taking place in Iran, which started on December 30, are being blamed on a number of things, including a failing economy, widespread corruption, and high food and fuel prices.

Scientific American magazine published an article stating the real cause of the protests is a “cycle of extreme droughts since the 1990s.”

Conservative Twitter did a double take when it read that.

Amir Handjani, who is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, places climate change at the forefront of the reasons behind the unrest:

“You have climate change, shortage of water, they can't grow their crops, and now they're getting their cash handouts taken away. It's a panoply of issues coming together at once.”

Another fellow from the Brookings Institute, Suzanne Maloney, lays the blame at the feet of Iran's 14-year drought as well:

“The drought has certainly impacted Iran's economy broadly, and it's impacted quality of life and living patterns, migration patterns around Iran quite considerably. It's an issue of huge political importance, one that factored into the presidential election last year, so it's certainly something I think one can say has had a role in shaping frustrations and driving some of the underlying grievances around the protests.”

Under the Obama administration, climate change was classified as a national security threat. This past December, President Donald Trump removed climate change from the list of threats when he unveiled his “America First” doctrine.

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