Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Darfur and Climate Change

Another reason we need to take better care of God's beautiful world...

There has been discussion of climate impacts/causes on the situation in Darfur. I will say that from what I understand, this is still theory...


How to Prevent the Next Darfur
Darfur, a barren, mountainous land just below the Sahara in western Sudan, is the world's worst man-made disaster. In four years, according to the U.N., fighting has killed more than 200,000 people and made refugees of 2.5 million more. The conflict is typically characterized as genocide, waged by the Arab Janjaweed and their backers in the Sudanese government, against Darfur's black Africans. But what is often overlooked is that the roots of the conflict may have more to do with ecology than ethnicity. To live on the poor and arid soil of the Sahel--just south of the Sahara--is to be mired in an eternal fight for water, food and shelter. The few pockets of good land have been the focus of intermittent conflict for decades between nomads (who tend to be Arabs) and settled farmers (who are both Arab and African). That competition is intensifying. The Sahara is advancing steadily south, smothering soil with sand. Rainfall has been declining in the region for the past half-century, according to the National Center for Atmospheric Research. In Darfur there are too many people in a hot, poor, shrinking land, and it's not hard to start a fight in a place like that.

The devastation of Darfur highlights the potentially catastrophic effects of climate change on societies across Africa. The U.N. estimates that the lives of as many as 90 million Africans--most of them in and around the Sahara--could be "at risk" on account of global warming. Many of Africa's armed conflicts can be explained as tinderboxes of climate change lit by the spark of ancient rivalry. In Somalia, nearly two decades of anarchy have been exacerbated by eight years of drought. In Zimbabwe, relief agencies say President Robert Mugabe's disastrous rule is being overtaken by an even greater catastrophe, a three-month drought that wiped out the maize crop, fueling tensions between government-allied haves and opposition have-nots. Apart from drought, other environmental challenges can prove deadly. A growing number of experts believe the 1994 genocide in Rwanda is best understood as a contest between too many people on too little land.


SUDAN: Climate change - only one cause among many for Darfur conflict

JOHANNESBURG, 28 June 2007 (IRIN) - Climate change may be one of the causes of the Darfur crisis, but to consider it the single root cause would obscure other important factors and could hamper the search for solutions, climate and conflict analysts say.

A number of commentators, journalists and analysts have recently focused on competition for natural resources, increasingly scarce due to global warming, as the trigger of the conflict in western Sudan.
Among the earliest commentators to put a global warming spin on the Darfur crisis was economist Jeffrey Sachs. "Recent years have shown that shifts in rainfall can bring down governments and even set off wars. The African Sahel, just south of the Sahara, provides a dramatic and poignant demonstration," he wrote in an article on the Scientific American website in July last year.

"The deadly carnage in Darfur, Sudan, for example, which is almost always discussed in political and military terms, has roots in an ecological crisis directly arising from climate shocks," Sachs wrote.


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