Climate Change Responsible For ISIS? Republican Leader Blasts Democratic Candidate Martin O'Malley's Suggestion

(Photo: Reuters/Stringer)Iraqi security forces hold an Islamist State flag near the bodies of dead members of the Islamic State in the outskirt of Ramadi, December 23, 2014.

Republican Party Chairman Reince Priebus blasted comments by Democratic presidential candidate Martin O'Malley suggesting that climate change is responsible for the rise of terror group ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

"Whether it's the weak Obama-Clinton nuclear deal that paves the way for Iran to obtain an atomic bomb or Martin O'Malley's absurd claim that climate change is responsible for ISIS, it's abundantly clear no one in the Democratic Party has the foreign policy vision to keep America safe," Priebus said in a statement, according to Fox News.

The remarks refer to earlier comments made by former Maryland Governor O'Malley in an interview with Bloomberg Television, when the Democratic hopeful suggested that climate change in the Middle East created conditions that facilitated the rise of ISIS.

"One of the things that preceded the failure of the nation state of Syria, the rise of ISIS, was the effect of climate change and the mega drought the affected that region, wiped out farmers, drove people to cities, created a humanitarian crisis," O'Malley said.

"It created the symptoms – or rather the conditions – of extreme poverty that lead now to the rise of ISIL and this extreme violence."

The United States and a broad team of international allies have been fighting back against ISIS by hitting terror targets with air strikes, but have not sent ground troops into combat.

A major global poll by Pew Research Center published earlier in July identified both climate change and ISIS among the three greatest threats people see the world facing today, along with economic instability.

While a global median of 46 percent identified climate change as a great concern, making it the top threat in the world as identified by global respondents, ISIS was found to be the greatest worry among respondents in the United States and Europe.

"Publics in 14 countries express the greatest concern about ISIS, the militant group seeking to create an Islamic state in Iraq and Syria. In Europe, a median of 70 percent express serious concerns about the threat posed by the growing organization," Pew noted. "Apprehension is greatest in Spain (77 percent), but anxiety about ISIS is high throughout the continent."

The poll did not specifically establish correlation between the threats, however, and in the United States climate change ranked among the last from the available choices on concerns.

Climate change has been a dividing issue between Republicans and Democrats in America. Secretary of State John Kerry said in September 2014 that America has a biblical duty to protect Muslims from climate change, and called it "one of the greatest challenges" that people face.

Kerry's comments were derided by conservative political commentators, such as Glenn Beck, who said that climate change is not one of the Middle East's most pressing issues.

"We have ISIS happening. We have beheadings going on … We have children holding up severed heads. What does he say we have a responsibility to protect the Muslim world against?" Beck asked.