Tuesday, September 29, 2009

100 Places to Remember - at least 8 of which are to die for

Having wandered through the exhibition at Kongens Nytorv in Copenhagen and now also enjoyed the accompanying book of 100 Places to Remember Before They Disappear I can't help but take note of a couple of them here.

Because the descriptions in some cases explicitly mentions conflicts. Granted: Many will change with potential drastic consequences. Be it because they become uninhabitable, hence sources of climate change induced migration, or become unsuited for agriculture, leading to loss of food production with all the negative consequences of that. Or because of any of the other potential negative changes. But most are "just" pretty spots that will change due to climate change.


In chronological order of the book, the spots that are related to conflict by the 100 Places project:

#11 The North Pole, Russia/Canada/Denmark

As the Arctic thaws resources of oil, gas and minerals become increasingly available for extraction. But whose resources are they?

#16 Tian Shan, Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan/China

The glaciers atop this mountain range provides the water for the breadbasket and powerhouse of Kazakhstan. But due to miniscule drops in precipitation through the last 50 years they have shrunk by 36% already. Climate change will most likely accelerate this drastically. Competition for the remaining water resources will intensify. Neighbours some seriously troubled regions.

#26 Lake Chad, Chad/Cameroon/Niger/Nigeria

This lake is basically an essential source of life in a very arid region of all more or less "failed states". Competition between tribes and nations already intensifying as the lake is drying up rapidly.

#30 Kalahari Desert

Also drying up even beyond what it already is this desert is the last refuge of the die hard San people. But climate change could be the final blow to their basis of existence.

#68 Bering Sea, Russia/USA

This sea is the source of some 2 billion US dollars worth of fishing shared by Russia and USA. But as the waters warm the ecosystem and biodiversity is changing completely. At the very least the fishermen will have to go elsewhere or catch different fish. The worst... well... will begin with trade negotiations, I assume.

#79 Kordofan, Sudan

We've all heard of Darfur. Over and over again. And I've pointed to the vicious cycles between environmental degradation. But I guess Darfur is no longer pretty enough for a photograph in a project like 100 Places? Anyway, Sudan also has a big forest of "hashab" trees (Latin: Acacia senegal) which is the source of the largest production of rubber in the world. But business is slow both because of the nearby Darfur trouble, drought and rising temperatures which has caused a severe decline in forestry productivity. When this region of Sudan also loses it's livelihood...

#84 Niger Delta

This is "all of the above". Beautiful nature, oil pollution, ethnic violence, mass poverty, multinational corporations, rising seas, increasing storms, decline in freshwater availability, increased diseases spreading... huge chance of migration.

#87 Amman, Jordan/Israel/others

Well it's in the Middle East. Historically ideal situation for a fertile capital. But now human over-use of water resources and climate change is lowering the water level of the Dead Sea by one meter per year because less and less water flows by the Jordan River. Agricultural land is turning into desert as you read this. A glance at a map and it becomes obvious this can become a very, very big problem.

All of the above issues will of course get intertwined with the other issues of some of the regions. Like the pipelines running through central Asia. The existing political and historical animosities between certain countries. Perhaps it's in the nick of time these photographs were exhibited. Soon the footage could be less pretty.

(This post is also posted as part of the TH!NK ABOUT IT #2 Climate Change blogging competition. Most of these places are also marked in my Ecowar Battlefields Google map.)

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