What’s more important? That climate change is helping to incubate, affect and perhaps worsen conflicts around the world or that the international community still does understand how to effectively nip such conflicts and pre-existing conditions in the bud?
There is credible evidence that a mix of desertification, changing weather patterns and poor agricultural practices have helped the Dar Fur crisis to explode into a full-blown, confusing conflict replete with millions of refugees, hundreds of thousands of dead and more than a dozen competing factions.
Climate change may further impact or foster conflict in and within the South Pacific community of nations, between Egypt and its neighbors (shifting weather patterns may reduce the Nile’s flow, causing a water-sharing system already unable to please everyone to collapse) and between various economic and social factions within nations worldwide, as in Somalia and Burkina Faso.)
Yet climate change is not the culprit for such conflicts, especially not for Dar Fur, an illogical claim from the same UN Secretary General who recently told the world civilization faced “oblivion” if it did not adhere to his extremist viewpoints on global warming.
It seems that every few years a new central or pivotal cause for conflicts is rediscovered or invented; in the past, corruption, colonialism’s legacies, superpower interference and/or indifference, religious, ethnic and social tensions, poor governance, a lack of democracy/freedom and now, climate change. Its time for the world, especially those in the US who are policy makers and elites, to grow up and admit that each conflict is largely unique:
Ivory Coast stems from a mix of poor leadership, outside interference by the French and Saudis, local corruption and misguided international development policies.
The Congo has experienced a bewildering mix of ethnic, religious, tribal and political grievances and differences, outside “predatory” interference, decades of corrupt and incompetent leadership, easily available weapons, social and infrastructural collapse.
Colombia can be blamed on social tensions exacerbated by class issues, poor leadership and economic exploitation, under-investment and abuse, the outside demand for Colombian drug exports with the destabilizing profit it entails to a variety of armed and dangerous near warlords, poor leadership, corruption and a long history of misinformed policy from its largest neighbor, the USA.
Now add in environmental issues to include climate change, and you still have three seriously troubled countries, with only Colombia getting its act together through a leadership that is busy addressing all of those problems as best it possibly can.
A wise response to those now claiming climate change as the new leading cause of upheaval in the world would be to apply the lessons of retired Marine General Anthony Zinni. He has suggested from his learned vantagepoint in his books and speeches that much of the chaos in the world today could be averted by either a national or preferably international effort to pay attention to each nation, each region (in an era when literally everywhere is of some degree of credible importance to American interests of peace and the free movement of globalization to include trade and markets) and identify any and all possible or current threats to stability.
Imagine Dar Fur five years ago, before the war started, where instead of doing next to nothing, the outside world had identified most of the factors incubating conflict there; an incompetent government that didn’t care about the tensions between farmers and pastoral communities and offered little in the way of funding for basic living operations, a seriously underdeveloped infrastructure, a decaying health and education system, a collapsing security arrangement between various factions, a number of individuals keen on exploiting tensions and problems to their benefit (economic, social, political) etc. etc. Then the outside world actually did something about this, treating it not as a fire to be contained later but one to be prevented then and there.
We are doomed to fail if we don’t try at all. This applies not to the hyped specter of global warming and the conflicts it is foretold to engender, but the very real and dangerous conflicts developing right now, as well as those raging now left largely unaddressed that can spiral out of control and even breed new ones.
More detail is warranted……
With regards to climate change as a harbinger of conflict, let us examine just one of many examples that would bear out similar findings.
The issue of water-sharing of the Nile River between the many nations that depend on it for their economic and social livelihood has been considered one of the most explosive and more unstable ecological and resource-sharing issues in the world.
If climate change were to negatively impact the level of the Nile, causing the nations upriver to reduce their sharing with Egypt and Sudan, what in the end would be the greater incubator of conflict?
The climate change patterns reducing the water level;
Or the failure of political leadership locally, regionally and in the world community to address and reduce urban overcrowding, rampant, out of control development, inefficient agricultural policies that waste water resources and disastrous environmental practices that harm soil conditions and human health?
Addressing one small issue at the expense of far larger and more important problems is the hallmark of the global warming delusion. To do so with regards to climate change as an incubator of conflict would only be another instance of hubris with high human costs.
A sideshow of epic distortions is set to begin this week in Bali, Indonesia.
While Al Gore and a wide array of foreign leaders promote the most extreme and unlikely of global warming outcomes, the facts are ignored, the narrative is fixed and the hysteria raised to a level that aspiring and active terrorists must envy.
Its high past time for the real threat of global warming to be made clear:
- That the most virulent form of anti-Americanism will in the future not come from mistaken policies related to the war on terror or the pursuit of national security but the perceived American obstruction of efforts to halt global warming.
- That most of the proposed responses to address global warming range from the mistaken and harmful to the delusional and suicidal. Nothing less than an economic surrender to the rest of the world (and subsequent crash of the global economy) seems to be on the minds of Al Gore and other proponents of the most extreme and unlikely possibilities of global warming.
- That the global (and national) media is flaying America on the issue; reporting misconstrued junk science as fact and helping to shape every bad weather event into a part of the apocalyptic global warming narrative. The exploitation of fear for profit in modern media is nowhere more evident than in its patently false coverage of the global warming issue.
- That a mistaken focus on the wrong issue (CO2 emission reduction vs. innovation and responsible environmental stewardship) will further undermine and discredit future American efforts to invest in solutions for not only environmental issues but health, security and education matters by trapping already scant resources for useless endeavors.
How does the US respond to this global effort? The facts in the debate have been for the next year or so effectively skewed, the forces of conservative skepticism and restraint discredited and drowned out and the hysteria has infected much of the global population, especially in the West.
The consequences for surrendering on the issue to mass hysteria are enormous.
Economically, a weaker America lacking the kind of capital necessary to invest in the kind of innovation that will be necessary to transition fully into a “Green” economy.
Politically, an America even more unable to influence events and trends, leaving behind friends and enabling enemies through its misplaced priorities (which is more important? The questionable extremities of global warming theory or the decaying social and political order in Latin America, Africa and Asia?).
Given the already unhealthy US debt problems, could one honestly believe that America accepting a Kyoto II plan will adequately pressure China and India (among others) to risk their ongoing leap into peace and prosperity for the sake of international approval?
Yet not “surrendering” will provoke the kind of visceral reaction from abroad (and within) that could dwarf what America has seen resulting from its war on terror mistakes.
The narrative of “America the global warming enabler/denier” is a powerful one that has already gained effective ground in Europe and Asia, even as these regions fail to move on their own or in concert towards adequate and responsible policies. Hypocrisy is in the air as always, yet confronting that hypocrisy alone (as the Bush Administration has been unable to even begin to) is not the solution.
To save itself from a serious self-inflicted wound, the US must offer a counter-narrative that is appealing to the nations who stand to be the most interested in realistic and effective environmental stewardship; China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia (among others, also known as the “New Core”, “Second World”, “G-21″, etc.)
Such a counter-narrative would focus on:
- the promotion of innovation as the foremost response to the dilemma of nearly 4 billion people trying to live like the West in the coming decades. Nations must invest in their people, especially their business communities, students and young entrepreneurs. Such a policy would breed uniquely Chinese solutions to Chinese problems, and so on and so forth, given that there is a massive degree of complex environmental problems on the local and regional levels stemming from high growth and outdated technology (i.e. the internal combustion engine and non-green buildings).
- the empowerment of the community to address environmental problems, given the extreme difficulty of, for example, a lone Indian student changing the bad habits of a community or even a nation. Progress will occur most effectively on a community level from the ground up, with (again) local solutions to local problems adding pressure and momentum to regional solutions to regional problems and then on up the governance and geographic scale.
- the harsh punishment of lawbreakers, especially wanton polluters and environmental defilers, utilizing methods as diverse as the death penalty to community exile. Nations should cooperate to identify and if necessary apprehend such individuals and groups on behalf of other nations. The days of European fishing companies wiping out the fish stocks of coastal African countries should be over, as should the era of American waste being illegally dumped in Mexican territory.
- the development and strengthening of mechanisms to facilitate regional cooperation among nations. Example: Japan and South Korea have a problem with Chinese pollutants on their shores and in their air. Tart sniping at diplomatic meetings and in the media does little to address the problem, so some sort of negotiation and moderation must be created and harnessed to help address the problem.
- deepening and expanding the involvement of the international community for the “worst of the worst” ongoing environmental disasters, from the dreadful state of many Chinese rivers to rampant deforestation in Bangladesh. Natural disasters are widely exacerbated by such conditions, not the onset of global warming.
More to come this week on the issue, including:
“Global Warming Apocalypse vs. Real-Time Environmental Accountability?”
“Climate Conflicts And The Nature Of Evil?”
“Hysteria As Policy”
“Man Vs. God For The Sake Of Mother Earth (Gaia)”