Climate change = war and famine?

An article on Yahoo! today mentions a study conducted on climate change from 1400 to 1900. The authors analysed historical periods of cooling, in 1450, 1650, and 1820. Each was followed by periods of war, famine, or both. I wrote about Jared Diamond’s book Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive before and followed that with some analysis of the ecological issues behind it. I am now seeing endless articles, both academic and informal, all coming to roughly the same conclusion. (This is a well-attested phenomenon: when you read a book that opens your eyes, suddenly you start seeing connections everywhere!)

I’d like to believe that human kind can surmount these problems. Indeed, I think we all must remain optimistic, despite the evidence, if only because that attitude is more likely to see us through in the end. But there may be much hardship ahead for many of the marginalised people’s of the world: Africans, East Asians, Bangladeshis, and others. The time to tackle it is now, when we still have the capacity to change things around.

The great war of the twenty-first century will not be over oil: for the majority of the world’s population it will be over food, water, cropland, pastures, and the basics of living.


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