Climate Conflict

Climate Conflict

The worst locust outbreak ever seen in Africa, the most insidious virus ever known to man, the most flooding and worst earthquakes in history… then, bloodshed.

All Africa journalist Jerry Chifamba has just completed a series of in-depth reports on how accelerating conflict in Africa is directly linked to climate change. No surprise, or is it just that we don’t want to be surprised, anymore.

“It all comes down to three things,” Chifamba concludes: “(1) the economy is more likely to take a downturn when the agricultural sector is not productive; (2) the agricultural sector will likely be unproductive when temperatures are high and rainfall low, and (3) civil war is a lot more likely when the economy takes a downturn.”

Chifamba details the main problems in three parts of the continent.

In West Africa the greatest conflict is in Nigeria, the continent’s largest and richest country. But sea levels are rising along its lengthy coast while desertification inland has become extreme, nearly drying up completely Lake Chad.

This has led to the enormous conflicts between the herds people who still live there, and those who are educated are immigrating at unheard of rates into the big cities massively stressing social services. This in turn has fueled the more modern terrorism conflicts centered around Boko Haram.

Southern Africa is also facing massive human displacement because of extreme weather. The worst cyclone in African history last year, Ida, left a trail of unimaginable destruction with entire regions washed away. Yet hardly 100 miles to the west a 3-year desperate drought continues.

“Zimbabwe had the lowest rainfall since 1981 [pushing] more than 5.5 million people into extreme food insecurity. Zambia’s rich maize-growing area were decimated and exports are now banned, with over 2.3 million people left food insecure.

“The situation is worsening in Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Madagascar, Namibia, and Zimbabwe,” Chifamba contends.

Drought followed by floods and floods followed by drought is also plaguing East Africa.

“More than 2½ million people in Somalia were forced from their homes …and many are now at risk of starvation.” The terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, nearly wiped out a few years ago is again on the rise.

South Sudan and northern Kenya are particularly volatile because of the enormous amount of weaponry America has supplied to the area in the last decade to fight terrorism.

It was inevitable that the guns and grenade launchers would “trickle down” to the citizenry. I’ve written before of young high school kids proudly displaying their AK47s. Chifamba quoted an interview of a remote fisherman who explained he was heavily armed, “To keep others from stealing my fish.”

In fairness to what Chifamba tried to do, the last of his reports are about all the hopeful mitigation efforts African governments are already employing, including a number of “green” initiatives. But one has to wonder, is it not too late?

Implicit between each of the specific cases Chifamba excellently reports of accelerated conflict directly linked to climate change, is that no one is going to read him. There’s just too much. Thank goodness Chifamba has the patience to do so, but the reality is that we are so bad news fatigued, nothing can move us from whatever position we were at when we just threw up our hands in total frustration.

But if simply for the history of the aliens who finally scrape through the rubble of our planet, Chifamba’s history is important to show how we killed ourselves.