Cowboys vs Farmers: Must be Climate Change

Nigerian soldiers demonstrate combat techniques for use against Boko Haram Insurgents.
Nigerian soldiers demonstrate combat techniques for use against Boko Haram Insurgents. By (VOA/Nicolas Pinault) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Guest essay by Eric Worrall

The history of the American Wild West is being replayed on the fringes of Nigeria, as heavily armed nomadic cattle herders compete with crop farmers for access to water and land. Except this time, greens are blaming Climate Change.

Nigeria faces new security threat fuelled by climate change and ethnicity

Recently, Nigeria’s sociopolitical and geopolitical tensions have taken on another dimension. This is evident in the escalating bloody clashes between nomadic cattle herders and farmers. Though there are alternative narratives, the ongoing tensions reflect, in a way, climate change-induced resource scarcity that threatens food and national security.

In the past several months tensions have escalated between nomadic cattle herders and traditional crop-farming communities. Some traditional and farming communities in central and southern Nigeria have been overrun by herders who are accused of grazing their cattle on crop fields.

The country’s media is dominated by reports of maiming, killings, rape and other forms of banditry associated with highly armed nomadic herders. Unofficial figures put the death toll from one such incident in Enugu State, in the south-eastern region, at about 100.

In the absence of state protection, these events have fuelled affected communities’ support for ethnic or regional militias as a civic defence strategy. The clashes between herdsmen and farmers strike at the core of Nigeria’s vulnerable ethno-political faultlines. They also have ramifications for climate change and food security.

Crop farmers produce more than 80% of Nigeria’s food. Leaving this critical lifeblood of the country’s economic and cultural life at the mercy of herders and their cattle is not an option. Farmers, the majority of whom are women, constitute the bedrock of the country’s informal economy. And the unofficial farming sector is the country’s highest employer of labour. Now this key economic sector is under siege.

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Granted Nigeria throws in a few additional twists, such as a religious divide, and an element of unhinged savagery which was more muted in the American Wild West, but compare the above to the following, written in 1884.

Early in the fall of 1884 a few settlers located homesteads in the northeast corner of the Brighton Ranch Company’s pasture, on Ash creek. This pasture was about fifteen miles square and extended several miles south of the Loup River almost to Broken Bow, and was enclosed with a wire fence. The land being government land, and subject to entry, these settlers served notice on the ranch company to remove their fence from about their claims within thirty days.

The company paid no attention to this request, and at the expiration of the time the settlers made a raid on the fence and appropriated the posts to make roofs for their sod houses. Roofs in those days were made by laying a large log, called a ridge log, lengthwise of the building at the top. The fence posts were then laid up to form the rafters, to which brush was fastened, the whole being covered with one or two layers of prairie sod, coated with several inches of yellow clay procured from the canyons, which turned the water effectually.

In a short time after the appropriation of these posts the foreman of the ranch had the settlers arrested and taken to Broken Bow for trial. The sheriff had no sooner departed with the prisoners than the second foreman of the ranch rigged up two large wagons, drawn by four mules each, and proceeded to the houses of the settlers, accompanied by a number of the cowboys. They drove up to a house, took a team and large chain, hitched onto the projecting end of the ridge log, and in about three seconds the neat little home was a shapeless mass of sod, hay, brush and posts mixed up in almost inextricable confusion. The ranchmen then culled their posts from the wreck and loaded them into the wagons, when they went to the next house and repeated the operation, leaving the occupants to pick their few household goods out of the ruins at their leisure. The boys were having great fun at the expense of the settlers, cracking jokes and making merry as the work of destruction went on. After destroying several houses in this manner they proceeded to the claim of a Mr. King, and Mrs. King, seeing them approaching, met them with a shotgun and dared them to come on. Had it been Mr. King, the invitation would possibly have been accepted, but the cowboys were too gallant to enter into a quarrel with a lady, and withdrew without molesting her.

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To its credit, the first article mentions and links to “alternative narratives”. At least some Nigerians who have been following events are horrified that politicians appear to be attempting to use the climate narrative, to camouflage their own incompetence.

The misuse of climate change theory in the current climate of terror, subterfuge and hate, to explain Fulani herdsmen terrorism and the threat by northern senators and governors to those who object to this evil, is an after thought and a calculated attempt to deceive, obfuscate and intimidate.

It is a new low, in the attempt by the north Nigerian oligarchy to find reason for the unjustifiable pogrom, Fulani herdsmen have unleashed on the country. it is both sad and unfortunate and, exposes the depravity of the minds that created the Nigerian problem and what those who take up the challenge to address it, must confront.

The climate change excuse is unfounded and an abuse of the climate change theory. Those interested in climate change would be horrified that a genuine concept is being misused in this way.

It is mischievous to misuse the relationship between cattle rearing and climate change to explain the premeditated violence and pogrom sponsored by those with hidden agenda and perpetrated by Fulani herdsmen and militia against communities, whose farm they destroy. It is the height of insensitivity and abuse of power, to pay no attention to the damage their cattle do to the investment of farmers and the rights of the victims of their terror.

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You don’t need “climate change”, to explain political incompetence, and armed clashes between farmers and cowboys.

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May 15, 2016 9:17 pm

Is there anything that can’t be blamed on CAGW ?

Reply to  Robert
May 15, 2016 10:34 pm

Nope. It’s climate change all the way down.

Mick In The Hills
Reply to  Robert
May 16, 2016 1:35 am

I resisted blaming my ingrown toenail on global warming for a long time, but I recently relented, and laid the blame squarely on the weird weather of these past 18 months.
The most troubling thing is though, my uni student nieces and nephews nod in empathy when I tell them this.

Reply to  Mick In The Hills
May 16, 2016 8:59 am

I guess scientific integrity demands that I soften my categorical statement below about certain biblical events. It is possible that Cain was just cranky about his own ingrown toenail. Climate change can work in mysterious ways.

Reply to  Mick In The Hills
May 16, 2016 10:03 am

Teleconnections can work across time as well as space.

Reply to  Mick In The Hills
May 17, 2016 3:42 am

“I resisted blaming my ingrown toenail on global warming for a long time”
Funny, I was thinking, immediately before reading your comment (really one second before), that with the pro-vaccine PC dictatorship, soon, parents who “fail” to vaccinate their children against everything (including STDs) will be blamed for ingrown toenails.

Reply to  Robert
May 16, 2016 6:00 am

Everyone knows that crop farmer Cain killed shepherd Abel because of climate change, pasture land and water rights.

Reply to  Colorado Wellington
May 16, 2016 9:20 am

The ‘Mark of Cain” was just a smudge from burnt crop residues; but his persistent refusal to atone for releasing carbon we are now told is worse than people dying.

Reply to  gringojay
May 16, 2016 9:48 am

True, but I always wonder if Cain catches a break for his organic farming and socially responsible sequestering of at least some carbon in biomass. Abel didn’t give a damn and lived off his methane-farting ruminants.

Ben of Houston
Reply to  Robert
May 16, 2016 10:44 am

I blame the educational system. This conflict would be well known if there was even a smattering of Rogers and Hammerstein in the modern curriculum.
Everybody now. “Oklahoma where the wind comes sweeping down the plain…”

Reply to  Ben of Houston
May 16, 2016 10:53 am

Speaking of musicals

Reply to  Ben of Houston
May 16, 2016 2:27 pm

More specifically, you want this song:

Reply to  Ben of Houston
May 16, 2016 2:32 pm

Actually, this one has all the lyrics …

And yes, that is Hugh Jackman …

Brian R
Reply to  Robert
May 16, 2016 10:53 am

I stubbed my toe this morning and cursed climate change for it.

May 15, 2016 9:21 pm

the climate mantra at work.
all of the world’s problems, however complex they may seem to the ordinary joe sixpack, may be framed in terms of climate change.
and then solved just by cutting emissions.
how sweet it is.

Reply to  chaamjamal
May 16, 2016 11:56 am

Joe sixpack or YUPPIES, lefties oxygen thieves? Most Joe sixpacks have other things to worry about than mythical climate scams and far too much common sense in any event.

Chris Hanley
May 15, 2016 9:56 pm

Time Series of the Sahel Precipitation Anomaly Index. Anomalies are with respect to the 1950–1979 period:
“ … studies revealed little expansion of the Sahara, and a relatively minor human footprint when compared to the climatic signal … other regional-scale analyses reinforced this conclusion, casting serious doubt on the expanding deserts paradigm ….
… in the Sahel, a greening trend was observed by numerous studies [62–65]. Herrmann et al. [63] used the residual trend method (see Section 4) in combination with trend analysis on 19 years of monthly NVDI data to conclude that the region was, in general, greening with only localised degradation present …” (PDF):

May 15, 2016 10:58 pm

Don’t know much about this. I do kow that Nigeria was a food economy until oil was discovered. Then greed and corruption exploded. Also in the north the desert is creeping into Nigeria.

Reply to  Jack
May 16, 2016 1:50 am

Nomadic cattle herders require the facility of moving on to fresh pastures regularly. A glance at Nigerias incredible population growth (mixed with security concerns) demonstrate how the supply of uncontested land must be shrinking. The population on Nigeria in 1950 was around 45 million. Today it is around 186 million.
That sort of population increase is going to create all sorts of problems and it would require a goldilocks type climate for everyone to be satisfied.

Reply to  climatereason
May 16, 2016 3:10 am

The Catholic Church and the GOP in general have been hostile towards birth control methods. Muslims forbid it entirely and totally.
[??? Both oppose abortion, as do most of the US population and most conservatives; but the GOP as a party has never opposed birth control. The Catholic Church opposes post-conception birth control methods since they see those as another form of abortion. .mod]

Reply to  emsnews
May 16, 2016 10:05 am

Facts are stubborn things, Elaine.

Reply to  climatereason
May 16, 2016 10:06 am

Birth control has never reduced population absent totalitarian backing, such as in China.
The only thing that has ever reduced birth rates has been economic growth.
I know that for those on the left, there is a requirement to believe in the mantra of birth control solves all, but like climate science, reality refuses to bend to their will.

John Harmsworth
Reply to  climatereason
May 16, 2016 11:39 am


Leonard Lane
Reply to  Jack
May 17, 2016 12:29 am

When I was there in 1979, it was apparent to many people there (Nigerians and foreigners) that corruption played a huge burden on the people, and that is was limiting the speed of Nigeria’s development.

Joel O’Bryan
May 15, 2016 11:20 pm

Nigeria, being of the Sahel, throws in the endemic horror of the tsetse fly with its accompanying sleeping sickness, a disease caused by infection with the parasite Trypanosoma brucei.
Sleeping sickness is what likely kept northern African invaders in the past from penetrating with their armies (including the Romans) into those areas “guarded” by Trypanosoma brucei.

May 15, 2016 11:43 pm

Conflict may also arise because long term overvaluation of the currency (the Naira, rampant inflation, and various measures aimed at financial and economic restructuring have differential impacts on herders and farmers.

Johann Wundersamer
May 16, 2016 12:51 am

The recent statement by Retired General T Y Danjuma, one of the architects of Nigerian woes, that the reason for the Fulani herdsmen terrorism in Nigeria is climate change, is to say the least revealing.
Is this a problem for me, for us? Or is it to blame on Nigeria. And what has the UN achieved with Money for development.
Climate Change is the scapegoat for the failed state of Nigeria + the failings of the UN.
And the base for request of money.

Johann Wundersamer
May 16, 2016 1:05 am

And the MSM remain in pakt with the gooddoers.

May 16, 2016 3:08 am

All the great droughts that hit Africa came during cold periods. As the planet cools down thanks to the sun’s energy output slightly reducing, we will see chaos as people struggle to survive in difficult, colder conditions. Ditto, the northern tier states.

Brett Keane
Reply to  emsnews
May 16, 2016 3:40 am

That thought had struck me also, and I was wondering when we would hear about drought etc.. Being old enough (ancient) to remember the last time. That many more people must figure too….

Evan Jones
May 16, 2016 3:11 am

Climate change makes governments incompetent.

Reply to  Evan Jones
May 16, 2016 4:38 am

Government doesn’t need a reason to be incompetent. They just are.

Mark from the Midwest
Reply to  Evan Jones
May 16, 2016 4:42 am

Am I to understand that climate change makes it impossible for governments to deal with climate change, so the only way to attack climate change is to strictly limit the powers of government? I’m all for it.

Patrick MJD
May 16, 2016 3:30 am

Heard of Nigerian internet scams? Well, this is just another feather in their cap, and they will get away with it.

May 16, 2016 4:39 am
Sorry…….someone had to do it!

May 16, 2016 5:20 am

I think the Nigerian article says it all:
The misuse of climate change theory in the current climate of terror, subterfuge and hate, to explain Fulani herdsmen terrorism and the threat by northern senators and governors to those who object to this evil, is an after thought and a calculated attempt to deceive, obfuscate and intimidate.
That about sums up the entire situation–everywhere(if you take out the Fulani herdsmen). The misuse of climate change theory(ok, I object to the use of the word) in the current climate of terror, subterfuge and hate by senators and governors (or add in any organization of your choosing) is an afterthought and a calculated attempt to deceive, obfuscate and intimidate.

Keith Willshaw
May 16, 2016 5:25 am

The conflict between nomadic herders and farmers began when agriculture appeared over 10,000 years ago. The reality is that the nomads always lose out in the long run. In the main survivors of the nomadic lifestyle inhabit regions unsuited to agriculture. As farming techniques and technology improve those areas have been shrinking.
The largest single export from Nigeria form the 1870’s to the post WW2 period was palm oil. The current increase in demand for palm oil is of course mainly due to the EU and US demands that biofuels be incorporated into motor fuel. So while this conflict is not the result of climate change the misguided policies promulgated by the proponents of the CAGW theory have certainly had an influence.

Rob Morrow
May 16, 2016 5:38 am

Might have something to do with Nigeria’s population more than doubling in the last 20 years?

Bruce Cobb
May 16, 2016 6:50 am

Love the “misuse of climate change theory” idea. You never want to misuse a Big Lie, because it tends to discredit it, and make it less believable. It’s right in the handbook for lying. Stupid of them.

May 16, 2016 7:51 am

If the land was fertile within the past century, can’t they learn from the lesson of the culling of elephants noted in Allan Savory’s Ted Talk which was the topic of the post? Of course, as Tim Ball noted in reply to that, the technique cannot bring back a desert, but it may help some areas in Nigeria. The animal herders have something the farmers want and the farmers have something the herders want. — John M Reynolds

May 16, 2016 9:02 am

From the article: “The climate change excuse is unfounded and an abuse of the climate change theory. Those interested in climate change would be horrified that a genuine concept is being misused in this way.”
The IPCC must denounce this misuse immedately!
Think they will?

Reply to  TA
May 16, 2016 12:01 pm

Only when hell freezes over……….

May 16, 2016 1:11 pm

Range wars are probably the most fundamental expression of inter-tribal conflict. The dispute between Cain (hunter) and Abel (farmer) in Genesis is probably the oldest allegory for a range war. Many wars throughout history have similar roots. Disputes over who had the rights to exploit the resources of a territory may even be a major factor in the extinction of the Neanderthals.
Modern gang fights between street gangs have similar roots.
Some things never change.

Ian H
May 16, 2016 3:01 pm

So the story now is that Boko Haram has nothing to do with religion. It is all about climate change eh? Perhaps when these guys get to paradise they expect to be met by 72 polar bears.

Reply to  Ian H
May 17, 2016 5:26 am

Now it all makes sense. Michele Obama’s #BringBackOurGirls campaign was not directed at the Religion of Peace. It was the first salvo in the war on Exxon.

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Colorado Wellington
May 17, 2016 3:50 pm

I thought he (Mrs O) was being ironic about all the girls her husband killed that can never come back

May 16, 2016 4:30 pm

CAGW has become a political bandaid to be applied to all geo-political problems. Before blaming CAGW for the problems in Nigerian, it would be more relevant to look at Muslim aggression, expansionism and the directives of the Qur’an against the Christian population. It would be amusing to see the dead Jihadists shocked by meeting 72 Polar bears!

May 16, 2016 4:38 pm

Encyclopedia Britannica states that the Fulani engaged in a war to “Purify Islam” from 1804-1810. My guess is the correct end date is in the future.
Muslims kill, enslave or convert all who disagree with them. Read articles referring to the First and Second Barbary Wars involving the US. The First Barbary conflicts pre-date the US Constitution and would have begun earlier but France and Britain paid tribute before 1788.
Nothing changes but the stoty tellers.

May 16, 2016 9:44 pm

Easier to blame than Muslims. Who seem responsible for an inordinate amount of savagery in the world.

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Pat Ch
May 17, 2016 3:51 pm

While that is true, they dont match the scale at which NATO brings death, no denying that, no on kills as many as NATO, not in the past 3 decades

May 20, 2016 10:42 am

Thankyou for this one . . . . Eric Worrall and Anthony Watts . . . You may be getting the hang of reading the code . . . so many use on all sides . . . I suppose it comes from the long history of spying in our species.

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