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Climate change, believed to have contributed to the decline of the Ottoman Empire (PDF) when drought forced villagers into a nomadic life in the late 16th century, is once again having an adverse affect on the Middle East. Precipitation has dropped off and temperatures have climbed for the past 40 years, with conditions growing especially severe in the last decade. A 2012 Yale study (PDF) showed that a drought from 2007 to 2010 so seriously stunted agriculture in the Tigris and Euphrates river basins that hundreds of thousands of people fled Iran, eastern Syria and northern Iraq.
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