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African Wars Caused by Weather

In the February 1994 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, researcher Robert Kaplan wrote an article called "The Coming Anarchy," stating that, "For a while the media will continue to ascribe riots and other violent upheavals...mainly to ethnic and religious conflict. But as these conflicts multiply, it will become apparent that something else is afoot. It is time to understand the environment for what it is: the national security issue of the 21st century." The new Pentagon study agrees with this.

Ed Stoddard writes in planetark.com that Kaplan felt Africa was especially vulnerable because global warming "will prompt mass migrations and, in turn, incite group conflicts." He quotes Steve Sawyer of Greenpeace as saying, "All sorts of places with political unrest will be made worse if millions of rural people are displaced or lose their livelihood because of climate change or soil erosion." This may be why Greenpeace is waging an internal war about whether or not to recommend curbs on immigration.

African countries where recent wars have been waged, such as Liberia, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are all places where there has been deforestation, unsustainable urban growth and other environmental problems. The Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe are having major environmental crises. Just a few months after Kaplan's article appeared, violence in Rwanda of Hutus versus Tutsis left hundreds of thousands of people dead.

"Kaplan is very provocative but if you follow his logic you have a dead end, the coming anarchy," says John Stremlau, of International Relations at Johannesburg's University of the Witwatersrand. "You have a lot of work being done in Africa to get away from the coming anarchy."

Nick Nuttall, of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), says, "There are some countries where the environment has gone to hell where they don't have conflict. Then there are places like Haiti where land degradation seems to have been a trigger."

Besides the Pentagon, another organization that can't ignore the facts about climate is the insurance industry. Swiss Re, the world's second-largest reinsurer, says, "There is a danger that human intervention will accelerate and intensify natural climate changes to such a point that it will become impossible to adapt our socio-economic systems in time. The human race can lead itself into this climatic catastrophe?or it can avert it."

Thomas Atkins writes that a new insurance report shows that the costs of natural disaster caused by global warming, such as floods, fires, drought and storms, may double to $150 billion a year in 10 years, costing insurance companies $30-40 billion in claims?the equivalent of one World Trade Center attack every year.

Swiss Re climate expert Pamela Heck says, "Scientists tell us that certain extreme events are going to increase in intensity and frequency in the future. Climate change is very much in the mind of the insurance industry."

When Robert Feather began working with the Copper Scroll of Qumran, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls, he realized it was a map to the real human past?a past that has remained largely hidden for thousands of years. The scroll reveals that Moses was probably an Egyptian prince. High adventure, hours of wonderment (and also on sale)!

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