Friday, November 09, 2007

Violence in Darfur Fueled by Global Warming

Darfur photo courtesy of Columbia University

A hidden culprit behind the conflict in Sudan's Darfur region is global climate change, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon wrote in a newspaper editorial last spring. Although we tend to use political or military terms when discussing the violence in Darfur, "its roots," says Ban, are "a more complex dynamic." One of the root problems of the conflict is global warming.

More than 200,000 people have been killed in Darfur since 2003, when local rebels took up arms against the Sudanese government. Violence in Darfur began in response to worsening drought conditions in the region that caused both water and food shortages.

Ban's warning follows that of other experts, including Britain's Home Secretary John Reid, who pointed out that "the lack of water and agricultural land is a significant contributory factor to the tragic conflict we see unfolding in Darfur. We should see this as a warning sign" of continued social dislocation and violence.

Rainfall in Sudan began declining in the 1980s because of "man-made global warming," said Ban. He called for economic development in the region that might involve new irrigation and water storage techniques. Meeting unmet contraceptive need would also address the very root of climate change: population growth.

Key words:: Darfur, violence, global warming, climate change, drought, population growth, Africa

Kandis Wood. Violence in Darfur Linked to Climate Change. The Reporter, magazine of Population Connection, Vol. 39. Fall, 2007.

The Washington Post, AP Online, June 16, 2007.

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