Wednesday, May 2, 2007

“The Darfur Conflict”

The killings in “the Darfur conflict” have reached into the high hundreds of thousands — not tens of thousands as has often been reported, according to an article published by Science. Press coverage of the Darfur conflict has focused on ethnic hatred as the basis for the killings. According to an article appearing in this month’s Atlantic Monthly, however, global warming may be the villain.

The Darfur conflict surfaced in the early 1990’s between settled farmers and nomadic herders fighting over failing lands which can be directly linked to global warming. In this area of Africa, Arabs are generally herders and Africans are typically farmers. Hence, the obvious conclusion drawn: Darfur violence is linked to ethnic tensions.

For much of the 1980’s and ‘90’s, environmental degradation in Darfur and other parts of the semi-arid region called the Sahel – just south of the Sahara – was blamed on land use (i.e., cutting trees and overgrazing) by it’s inhabitants. Dramatic declines in rainfall were attributed to inhabitants’ mistreatment of the region’s vegetation. It is now believed that the impact of global warming exposed more rock and sand in this region which absorb less sunlight than plants. This cooled the air near the surface of the land, drawing clouds downward and reducing the chance of rain.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in conjunction with Google Earth, has an excellent web-based exhibit of the “Crisis in Darfur” where you can see topographic views, refugee camps, damaged and destroyed villages.

If you can’t make a donation at least take a look at this amazing web-based testament to energy conservation, other green effects and conflict resolution.

No comments: