Greenhouse Genocide?

This probably is one of the weirdest headlines I’ve ever seen crop up on Memeorandum: Climate change behind Darfur killing: UN’s Ban, and I’ve seen some weird stuff there.

The green folks are big on global warming and climate change. Personally, as someone who is not affronted by science, I have a tendancy to buy into the greenhouse effect as it just makes sense. And in recent years the alarmist eco people have been quick to toss the blame on climate change, but usually this has to deal with weather related items such hurricanes and tornadoes.

How on Earth does someone go from changing weather patterns to violence in Darfur?

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon gives it a go, and while I was skeptical, I’m beginning to see the point.

But first, especially if you are an urban dweller which I have been most life, and even better one that’s lived next to a relatively large body of water (ie. Pacific Ocean or Atlantic Ocean) you have to kind of get yourself out of that urban dweller mindframe wherein all food comes from the grocery store and all water comes from your sink (unless you have really bad city water, in which case you probably get those Deer Park bottles delivered regularly like we do).

And really, what Ban’s argument does is show just how far reaching the effects of massive climate change can be. It’s not just a matter of inconvenience that you may have to deal with crappy weather, and it’s not the rather easily ignored threat that your country might be engulfed in water a few generations after you have passed on. Climate change can have vast detrimental effects far sooner than that.

Now I grew up in California, and most of that time, we were in a drought. And in all actuality, this has led to one of the biggest internal struggles in California as the more water abundant Northern half of the state often got in a tiff with the more arid Southern half in regards to the usage of water as a resource. But this is peanuts compared to the dynamic we see in Darfur.

As Ban points out, the effect of climate change on the region has resulted in a cultural change. Once upon a time Darfur’s inhabitants shared the wealth as their was plenty of viable land for crop production. With plenty of land and resources, it was easy for the black population and the Arab population to get along as sharing was simple. However:

With the drought, however, farmers fenced in their land to prevent overgrazing.

“For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out,” he said.

Now I think this may be an overly simplistic view of the thing. Like I said, we in California have had a similar situation that has caused some tension between North and South. Californians didn’t declare war on each other. Despite talk in some circles, there was never even a serious push to split the state in two.

Looking at the differences in the dynamic, we see why. California (despite jokes to the contrary) is part of a first world nation, and while it is a very culturally diverse state, it has always been as such, and has dealt with that as amicably as can be hoped, and also the cultural differences were divided often on different fault line than the resource differences (at least to a degree). So in Darfur, much like in Iraq, it can be concluded that there were far more serious underlying factors that were far more threatening than a drought.

But still, when tensions do run this deep, it can take very little for something to occur to act as a catalyst. Given that climate change can vastly change the availability of resources that are vital, particular in areas that can’t compensate with high technology, and importing and exporting of resources like the United States can, then yes, the after effects can affect social upheaval.

In other words, the moral of the story is not to conclude that global warming will result in massive social upheavals and intrinsic conflict, but to understand that the effects of the phenomenon are potentially far more immediate and widespread than losing polar bears a hundred years down the road.

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