Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pirates and oil

November 17 Somali pirates captured Saudi oil tanker Sirius Star carrying over 2 million barrels of oil destined for the USA. This is probably a record bounty as well as the farthest from their home shores the Somali pirates have boarded a ship.

At first I didn't even think of posting it here. Although it is so obviously ecowar relevant. Fortunately, I just discovered a very interesting blog - Oil and Glory by Steve LeVine - that I will surely be visiting in the future and his latest post - Pirates and Oil.

But this story is a lot deeper than just criminals extorting oil and shipping companies. The shores of Somali used to be rich with fish that provided the livelihood for many fishermen and food for the country's citizen. Torn apart by civil war the Somali government is unable to protect it's waters which is being looted by foreign trawlers. From Europe too.

Consequently, fishermen have turned pirates. Read more at Protecting Somalia's Fishing Grounds and Somali Fishermen Support Somali Pirates.

Muslim militias have vowed to fight these pirates to have the 'Muslim oil' released (Militants, pirates may fight over Saudi oil tanker). More likely, they are in it for the US$25 million ransom - these militiamen have been less worried in the past.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Congo fighting is about water, timber and diamonds

"The natural environment enjoys protection under Protocol 1 of the Geneva Conventions. But this protection is often violated during war and armed conflict. Water wells are polluted, crops torched, forests cut down, soils poisoned, and animals killed, all in order to gain military advantage.


We have seen how environmental damage and the collapse of institutions are threatening human health, livelihoods and security. These risks can also jeopardize fragile peace and development in post-conflict societies. The environment and natural resources are crucial in consolidating peace within and between war-torn societies.

The United Nations attaches great importance to ensuring that action on the environment is part of our approach to peace. Protecting the environment can help countries create employment opportunities, promote development and avoid a relapse into armed conflict. On this International Day, let us renew our commitment to preventing the exploitation of the environment in times of conflict, and to protecting the environment as a pillar of our work for peace."

Quote United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. My emphasis. Said on the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict, which is observed each year on November 6 while on his way to negotiate peace in Congo.

Since the outbreak of fighting in August 1998, the conflicts have been rooted in struggles for control of natural resources such as water, timber, diamonds and other minerals as well as various political agendas

Via Environment News Service.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Seminar discusses poverty reduction in areas of conflict

The seminar aimed to address poverty reduction for communities affected by a legacy of war debris such as bombs, mines and other explosive remnants of war.
33 years after the war that dropped - afaik - more bombs on their country than were used in the entire 2nd world war - the Vietnamese appears to have some expertise in dealing with living amidst craters.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


Drought land 'will be abandoned'
"In many ways [water] is the most dramatic expression of mismanagement of natural or nature-based assets [...] The day a person or a community is bereft of water is the day that your chance of even the most basic life or livelihood is gone and economic activity seeps away. Unchecked climate change will mean that some parts of the world will simply not have enough water to sustain settlements both small and large, because agriculture becomes untenable and industries relying on water can no longer compete or function effectively. This will trigger structural changes in economies right through to the displacement of people as environmental refugees. [...] In rich countries, there's always the potential of channelling water from one river basin to another. But even there people are hitting the limits of what we can do with money and infrastructure because there simply isn't enough water any more."
- Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme (my emphasises)

Some of the most dramatic examples of water shortages this year include conflict-stricken Sudan, the dramatic drying of Lake Faguibine in Mali on which 200,000 mostly nomadic people depend, fatal clashes over drying boreholes in northern Kenya, and economic and social crisis on the sparsely populated border between Bolivia and Argentina, according to Unep. Oxfam has estimated that 25 million people have been affected by the most recent drought in Ethiopia.

Is water the new oil?
as the population keeps growing and getting richer, and global warming changes the climate, experts are warning that unless something is done, billions more will suffer lack of water - precipitating hunger, disease, migration and ultimately conflict. [...] Ultimately, lack of water is seen as a threat to peace. From genocide in Darfur to rows between states in India and the US [...] Intuitively it is obvious people will fight over their most precious resource, but so far few conflicts have broken out. [...] water is often an underlying cause of tension, but has only identified one water 'war', between Egypt and Sudan


California water shortages could lead to rationing, officials say
Water agencies could get as little as 15% of their allocations next year unless rain and snowfall return to normal levels in the coming months. [...] The overall water storage is roughly 70% of the average for this time of year. [...] a voluntary conservation program [by one water supplier] has reduced water use by 8% to 10%.

Tiny village threatened with loss of its water
Brunswick, pop. 6,000, city leaders were close to issuing an ultimatum: If Rosemont, or the county or somebody somewhere didn't take over the dilapidated pipes that carry water to 80 homes in Rosemont, the city would turn off the village's water May 25. Just like that: Off. [...] This is hardly the first time water has divided two communities. In Western Maryland, past disputes have turned on a scarcity of supply during times of drought. In this case the supply is not the issue; distribution is.


Clashes over water kill 4 in drought-hit Kenya
Fighting over boreholes in arid northern Kenya has killed at least four people as competition for resources mounts in the drought-hit region, the Kenyan Red Cross said on Friday.

Drought threatens child health and survival in northern Kenya
Turkana district in northern Kenya is on the brink of disaster. There's been no rain for months, the forecast is grim and thousands of children are at risk.

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