The Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon says there are many reasons to be glad about international agreements reached during the recent G8 Summit regarding global warming resulting from climate change. But he gives some very real reasons to turn celebration into determined work when he brings up the newest victory won regarding Sudan’s Darfur. His opinion article is published in the Washington Post.
Ban Ki Moon says that Heiligendamm, Germany G8 Summit had one “modest goal” regarding the global climate conditions and that was to “win a breakthrough on climate change.” He also says the Summit won that breakthrough in an agreement to cut greenhouse gases by 50 percent before 2050. What Moon calls an “especially gratifying” component of the agreement is that the methods for achieving that cut “will be negotiated via the United Nations” to ensure international uniformity and conformity–everyone will contribute to the reduction.
Moon goes on to say that another great victory has more recently been won: “This week, the global focus shifted.” He states that this week, the Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accepted a plan to permit a United Nations peacekeeping force to be deployed in conflict torn Darfur, Sudan. The peacekeepers will be a joint United Nations-African Union force. Moon says the this modest step is “large in humanitarian potential.” In another editorial celebrating World Refugee Day, which is discussed by AC CP Kareyth Patrick, Antonio Guterres, who is High Commissioner for Refugees for the United Nations, adds to the scope of this comment by saying that tens of thousands of Sudanese refugees who have been in exile for up to ten years are beginning to return to their homeland.
These two victories, Moon states, are linked. A conflict that has claimed, as Moon says, “more than 200,000 lives during four years of political inertia” has a “complex dynamic.” Moon makes the statement that the conflict in Darfur “began as an ecological crisis.” This crisis arose at least in part “from climate change.”
Moon explains that “two decades ago, the rains in southern Sudan began to fail.” At first scientists thought the failure was a natural part of a rain/drought cycle. But later investigations, as Moon points out, found that the temperature of the Indian Ocean had risen. This rise in ocean temperature disrupted the seasonal monsoon cycle resulting in failed rainfall.
The connection scientists made between rising Indian Ocean temperature and the disruption of the monsoon season suggests, as Moon states, that the “drying of sub-Saharan Africa [Sudan] derives, to some degree, from man-made global warming.”
The fighting in Darfur broke out during the drought precipitated by higher ocean temperatures. Moon states that “It is no accident that the violence…erupted during the drought.” Moon says that previously, “Arab nomadic herders had lived amicably with settled farmers.” He cites an article published in Atlantic Monthly written by Stephen Faris in which Faris describes the lifestyle of the farmers and herders before the rains failed. The nomad herders were free to roam the farmers’ lands at will while grazing camel where they would. Farmers shared their wells with these nomadic herders.
But, once the rains failed, the farmers took protective measures to save their parched land and husband their depleting wells. The farmers built fences. The nomads were kept out, away from water and grazing. As Moon says, “For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out.” A water war.
Political differences that had been made irrelevant by plenty of food and water, came into play and by 2003 the conflict had escalated to the “full-fledged tragedy we witness today” with tens of thousands, even millions, of displaced refugees.
Returning to the newly won victory of deployment of joint force peacekeepers in Darfur, Moon says, “We can hope for the return of more than 2 million refugees.” He says that U. N. aid can help “safeguard villages and rebuild homes.” But he also says that the “essential dilemma” still will exist: There will still be “no longer enough good land to go around.” There will still be not enough food and water for everybody. And Moon poses the query, “But what to do about the essential dilemma….”
The solution Moon posits is that of, as yet imprecisely defined, “sustained economic development.” New technologies for farming in now arid soils, new irrigation systems, new water storage techniques must all comprise at least part of the solution. Roads for transport of goods, education, sanitation, communication infrastructures and more must be provided for, as Moon states.
Moon goes on to cite economist Jeffery Sachs of Columbia University as saying that the violence in Somalia, Ivory Coast, and Burkina Faso grow from a “similarly volatile mix of food and water insecurity.”
Ban Ki Moon ends his opinion by saying that people experiencing ecologically linked changes and violence “have suffered too much, for too long.” And he calls for action saying, “Now the real work begins.”
Ban Ki Moon, “A Climate Culprit In Darfur.” Washington Post. URL: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/15/AR2007061501857.html