Every day, we see heartbreaking images of Syrian refugees arriving on the shores of Europe. We know the conflict in Syria is creating unlivable situations in that country, which is spurring many people to risk their lives and leave their homeland. But you may not know that the root cause of much of the conflict is climate change.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this year showed that water shortages and prolonged drought made worse by climate change in the Fertile Crescent, including Syria, Iraq and Turkey, forced millions of people in Syria to leave their farms, at the same time as Iraqi refugees forced from their own country because of drought and conflict arrived in Syria. The result is the terrible situation we see in Syria today. As climate change continues, arid and semi-arid regions of the Earth may expand, increasing drought and desertification, and resulting in more conflict.

Artists Audrey Quinn and Jackie Roche created a graphic short story to illustrate the connection between the Syrian conflict and refugee crisis, and climate change. It’s an effective way to tell the story of what’s happening.