Sunday, June 24, 2007

Resource Wars: Here Already?

I read a very scary article in the Seattle times on Friday, June 22nd, titled Experts warn Darfur is "an early warning" of climate change's effects, by ALFRED de MONTESQUIOU. I actually had to let it sink in before I was ready to post about it.

There are a lot of potential bad feedback mechanisms related to global warming. Hopefully at least some of them are overblown products of the doomsday-mad. But others seem likely. For example, sunlight melts ice in the ocean. The more ice melts, the more sun hits the water (instead of being reflected away by ice) and the warmer the water, the more the ice melts. Pretty simple, huh?

This article talks about Darfur. It suggests a few things, but some of the basic logic goes something like: The conflict started at least partly as a result of drought, which made water and wood and other necessities hard to get (this is a resource war). The conflict itself requires more resources than peaceful living, thus stripping the area even more. The more the scarce resources are used up, the less resilient the ecosystem. As the area gets hotter and drier (assuming that is the affect of climate change there), then the conflict gets worse.

And I'm using nice words like "conflict" instead of more appropriate ones like "genocide."

So we have a resource war in Iraq. We also have a resource war in Darfur. What's next? And is this same logic eventually going to apply to, say, downtown Phoenix? Let's hope that thought is one for the doomsday-mad.

But while we wait to find out, maybe we should closely at the affects of climate change on resources and make part of our mitigation plans to shift water and food and shelter where its needed.

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