Saturday, June 16, 2007

Losing The World

The view of Darfur U.N. President Ban Ki Moon, expressed today in the WaPo op-ed he did, strikes me as one that needs to be taken into account.

The deprivation of growing capacity in the Texas/Oklahoma area has made severe differences here, and has deprived many farming communities of the livelihood they enjoyed/expected for generations, and it is possible that something many consider to be 'the heartland' may be disappearing.

Those communities that lived off of the land are having to depend on the rest of the country to help them out.

Just over a week ago, leaders of the world's industrialized nations met in Heiligendamm, Germany, for their annual summit. Our modest goal: to win a breakthrough on climate change. And we got it -- an agreement to cut greenhouse gases by 50 percent before 2050. Especially gratifying for me is that the
methods will be negotiated via the United Nations, better ensuring that our efforts will be mutually reinforcing.

This week, the global focus shifted. Tough but patient diplomacy produced another win, as yet modest in scope but large in humanitarian potential.

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir accepted a plan to deploy, at long last, a joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur. This agreement, too, is personally gratifying. I have made Darfur a top priority and have invested considerable effort, often far from public view, toward this goal.
It would be natural to view these as distinct developments. In fact, they are linked. Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand -- an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.

Two decades ago, the rains in southern Sudan began to fail.
It is no accident that the violence in Darfur erupted during the drought. Until then, Arab nomadic herders had lived amicably with settled farmers. A recent Atlantic Monthly article by Stephan Faris describes how black farmers would welcome herders as they crisscrossed the land, grazing their camels and sharing wells. But once the rains stopped, farmers fenced their land for fear it would be ruined by the passing herds. For the first time in memory, there was no longer enough food and water for all. Fighting broke out. By 2003, it evolved into the full-fledged tragedy we witness today.

In our farming communities, what we see is the re-orienting of agriculture into those efforts such as industrial farming and mammoth animal farming that requires a no-benefit and low-paid workforce. Can you say 'immigrant'? This is a far cry from the large part of the country that lived on, and lived off of, their farms until they couldn't keep them anymore.

When the war is between the industry of farming and the working force of this country, what will happen in our mid-America? And can we see it happening now.

Incidentally, our agriculture is a far more powerful interest in this country than the ecology. I believe that is another battle yet to come.

As I have been bounced off a few walls for saying previously, it isn't going to be pretty. (Okay, that's a snide aside, which seems also to be happening a lot. And I really prefer issues)

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Anonymous Nora said...

If you've read the book _Collapse_, which I heartily recommend, you could see this coming. Basically Diamond's position is that ecological catastrophe, or ecological change left unattended until it reached catastrophic proportions, leads to social and economic collapse of a society. His chapter on Rwanda is horrifying and enlightening.

5:37 AM  

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