Guest essay by Eric Worrall
According to the Red Cross, people suffering the combined effects of climate change and conflict need urgent climate aid.
Regions at war harder hit by climate change
5:16PM AUGUST 9, 2020
Climate change is unfair. Conflict is cruel. Together they’re devastating.
We need to embrace this responsibility because around the world people will experience climate change differently. Some will be hit harder than others. Some will have the capacity to adapt and respond — others will not. What we know is this: of the 20 countries deemed most vulnerable to climate change, more than half of them are mired in conflict. And conflict reduces the capacity of people to adapt, to respond collectively.
Around the world, my colleagues with the International Committee of the Red Cross witness the impact of climate shocks on a daily basis in the conflict zones where we work. As an organisation that helps people caught in conflict, we have no choice but to face the challenge of climate change and untangle what it means for our work with people affected by violence. It is increasingly clear that the communities we work with are disproportionately affected by climate change. And while research doesn’t show that climate change causes conflict, there is general agreement that it may indirectly increase the risk of violence by exacerbating existing tensions.
In the west African country of Mali, living conditions are difficult even in peacetime. The hardship of decades of desertification, rare and unpredictable rainfall and a lack of infrastructure is made worse by a long-lasting conflict. When times are good, pastoralists and their herds of cattle would be able to travel far to find grazing land and water. This year, due to the insecurity caused by conflict, they cannot. Trapped in place, their animals perish, and people become destitute. Across Africa, these dynamics can fuel tensions between herder and farming communities as competition for scarce resources grows.
If conflict and climate change are beyond our lived experience in Australia, we need to broaden our circle of empathy to include those who live that reality every day. We need to encourage climate action to include global communities affected by conflict.
…Read more: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/world/regions-at-war-harder-hit-by-climate-change/news-story/18794d1200c24a697f8b605f5188d7be
Back in the real world, greening of arid regions through CO2 fertilisation exceeds any damage from the slight warming the world has experienced.
I have no doubt if pastoralists are trapped in place by conflict, this would have a devastating impact on local grassland and on the herds of the pastoralists. Grazing is good for marginal grasslands, but you have to keep moving. However this is not a climate change issue.
The following is a TED talk by African ecologist Allan Savory. Allan organised a program which culled 40,000 elephants, to try to stop overgrazing and desertification. Allan eventually realised he was doing more harm than good. Grasslands in Africa are so adapted to being grazed, they actually suffer severe stress if the grazers are removed.
Update (EW): Added an extra paragraph in which the author identifies his association with the Red Cross.