Friday, July 27, 2007

Endangered gorillas shot dead

Three female mountain gorillas and a male silverback gorilla were found shot dead this week inside a national park in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a conservation group said Thursday.


The skin of one of the dead gorillas was recovered from a latrine in a nearby camp of rebels fighting the government, the IGCP said.

January 25, 2007: Congo Rebels Agree to End Gorilla Slaughter

(Warning: This article contains a graphic photograph that may be disturbing to some readers.)

January 17, 2007: Rebels Reportedly Kill, Eat Two Gorillas in Congo

Rebels in eastern Congo have killed and eaten two mountain gorillas, conservationists said Wednesday, adding they feared more of the endangered animals may have been slaughtered in the lawless region.

07/08/2002: Warfare on gorillas poses threat to survival

Business couldn't be better. Indeed, poaching in the once remote regions of Cameroon, Central African Republic, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Republic of Congo has become the most immediate threat to the survival of lowland gorillas.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Darfur: Drought or Islamism?

It's not that I want to write up an excuse for religious extremism. It's not even that I claim expertise in the whole Darfur situation in particular. It's just that for quite some time I have noticed the natural resources vs. civil war link that should get this blog noticed. Yet I also noticed some political writers drumming to the 'Muslim Terrorist' beat at the mention of Darfur. For examples see The Darfur Genocide and Global Warming by Fred Thompson and Ban Ki Moon: Super Genius by Mac Johnson. What beautiful little civil war in far off Africa - perfect for both Islamophobic fearmongering and neo-conservative UN-subversion. A brief quote from the latter rant:
In Darfur, radical Muslim militias have taken to slaughtering Christian and Pagan farmers for fun and profit. Since radical Muslims elsewhere in the world are generally a peaceful lot, Ban Ki Moon has wisely seen that it must be the weather setting them off.

Then yesterday the news break that an underground water source has been found in Sudan: AP / Scientists Find Lake Remnants in Sudan. I cannot help but quote:
"Much of the unrest in Darfur and the misery is due to water shortages," said geologist Farouk El-Baz, director of the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing, [...] "There have been two long episodes of drought during the past 20 years, each lasting for about seven years," the scientist said, adding that the drought aggravated tensions between Darfur's ethnic African tribesmen and nomadic Arabs.

This month the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) released a report on the issue: 'Sudan Post-Conflict Environmental Assessment' (full report in PDF | website | summary at PeopleAndPlanet / 'Environmental decay a root cause of Sudan strife'). Also, AP recently delivered an article on the war-resource link (Experts: Darfur Faces Environment Crisis) in which it is concisely explained how droughts triggered the war and how the war worsened the environmental crisis in return.

To date, I haven't noticed any right wing nutcase blogger crack jokes at the actual problems at play, let alone any actual right wing politician addressing them. What they haven't figured out is how to profit, I suspect. But perhaps now water has been found and the experts have been so outspoken on the loose-loose situation there, the neocons will have to find other issues to spin for the next "anti-terror law" or whatever.

PS: Sorry for being a bit more cynical and political than I originally intended to be at this blog. Couldn't help it in this case. Guess that Mac Johnson guy got to me.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Good news: Barn Owls Unite Israelis, Jordanians

For years, Ibrahim Alayyan watched in frustration as rats ravaged the date crop at his lush family farm.

Beautiful story on good ecosystem management uniting people even while their states are at war.

Alternative link / Washington Post

Thursday, July 12, 2007

About this blog

I claimed this URL a long time ago but ended up blogging at which I still do. But when I found the study on Chinese history of temperature and warfare through my Newsvine watchlist I came to think of this idea again because that study in particular portrays my idea so beautifully.

Of course, wars are fought for many reasons. I just see natural resources at play and at stake very often. And since it's at an intersection of a couple of my interests, I'm going to give this blog a go anyway. On the one hand it's nothing special, just a place for me to systematically note links to stories. On the other hand, since updates will be infrequent they will also be of some quality, I promise.

Please subscribe, comment or forward interesting stories.

In the near future I think I'm going to dig into the stories I have posted and seen at Newsvine (which is usually easy because of that sites excellent tagging) and post them here in somewhat updated and systematical fashion. Topics may include:
  • Melting of polar regions and the race for resources there
  • Water in Palestine
  • Drought in Darfur

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

UN study on policies regarding desertification

Overcoming One of the Greatest Environmental Challenges of Our Times: Re-thinking Policies to Cope with Desertification

Over the past few years, it has become increasingly clear that desertification is one of the most pressing global environmental challenges of our time, threatening to reverse the gains in sustainable development that we have seen emerge in many parts of the world. It is a process that can inherently destabilize societies by deepening poverty and creating environmental refugees who can often add stress to areas that may not yet be degraded. The impacts of desertification are exacerbated by political marginalization of the dryland poor, by the slow growth of health and education infrastructure and by the lack of livelihood alternatives to resource depleting agricultural practices.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Chinese study correlates climate change with wars

Climate change, and the resulting shortage of ecological resources, could be to blame for armed conflicts in the future, according to David Zhang from the University of Hong Kong and colleagues. Their research, which highlights how temperature fluctuations and reduced agricultural production explain warfare frequency in eastern China in the past, has been published online in Springer’s journal Human Ecology.

Main points in short:
  • Wars throughout Chinese history correlated to cold periods in climate change cycles
  • Situations of "ecological stress" spurs conflict and should be taken into account in other historical reviews of war
  • In the future resource shortages could create conflicts and wars

The original article is available to subscribers only, but of course they have the abstract for free: Zhang et al: Climate Change and War Frequency in Eastern China over the Last Millennium. Human Ecology, 2007.

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