18 January 2020   Leave a comment

We know that climate change is occurring–we know why it is occurring and we can measure departures from the norm which give us a sense of the scale of the change. What we do not know is how humans will react to the change and the extent to which those reactions will involve violence and instability. Spiegel has run a very thought-provoking article on the effects of climate change on Lake Chad and how that change has affected the peoples of Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon, and Chad. The artile notes:

“In Chad, in Central Africa, a tragedy is playing out that will become increasingly common in the years to come: Existing conflicts over land and resources are being exacerbated by increasingly unpredictable weather. Here, it can be seen how global warming can fuel wars.

“One of the world’s worst humanitarian crises is unfolding on the shores of Lake Chad, according to the United Nations. In Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad, people are suffering from more than just extreme poverty. Boko Haram and other violent Islamist groups combined with corrupt governments and the absence of any functional state administration are making their lives hell — not to mention diseases, natural disasters and overpopulation. All these problems are now being made worse by climate change.”

Lake Chad serves almost 20 million people and the article recounts the myriad ways changes in climate have changed long-standing patterns of behavior. In many respects, those changes have led to open conflict as the sense of declining resources have led to acts of desperation. We all live in this period of change and managing the adaptive measures necessary will tax the legitimacy of governments and political systems. What seems to be clear is that those adaptive measures will always favor the interests of the rich and powerful to the detriment of the interests of the poor. World Oil quantifies the difference: “Climate-related disasters in high income countries caused $1.4 trillion in economic losses over the past 20 years, which shaved just 0.4% off economic activity, according to the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. In developing nations, $21 billion of losses cut output by almost 2%.”

Posted January 18, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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