Monday, February 25, 2008

"We Will Abolish War"

This writer discusses the nature of organized violence and how to have less of it.

As far back as anthropologists have peered into human history and pre-history, they have found evidence of group bloodshed. [But] History offers many other examples of warlike societies that became peaceful very rapidly.

A key section is about Jared Diamond's latest book:

In his book, Collapse, the anthropologist Jared Diamond argues that many wars, both ancient and modern, spring from mismanagement of environmental resources. He notes, for example, that ethnic conflicts are only the proximate causes of the conflicts that have ravaged Rwanda, Somalia, and other African nations in the last decade. The ultimate cause is that overpopulation has led to deforestation, overgrazing and soil depletion and, hence, a Hobbesian struggle over dwindling resources.

Obviously there are some examples of wars not directly sparked by a fight over a natural resource. But Jared Diamond's book Collapse [Google Books] is about much more than that and I really don't know how to recommend it thoroughly enough. Watch this 74 minute lecture on it. If you in any way find the contents of this blog interesting, you will worship Jared Diamond's books. This isn't the first nor the last time I have linked to an article mentioning Diamond - try clicking the tag below. After reading John Horgan optimistic anti-war piece.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Diamond: "we shall soon have lower consumption"

The average rates at which people consume resources like oil and metals, and produce wastes like plastics and greenhouse gases, are about 32 times higher in North America, Western Europe, Japan and Australia than they are in the developing world. That factor of 32 has big consequences.

I suspect you heard that one before, no!? Well, Jared Diamond also makes this obvious consideration:

People in the third world are aware of this difference in per capita consumption, although most of them couldn't specify that it's by a factor of 32. When they believe their chances of catching up to be hopeless, they sometimes get frustrated and angry, and some become terrorists, or tolerate or support terrorists. Since Sept. 11, 2001, it has become clear that the oceans that once protected the United States no longer do so. There will be more terrorist attacks against us and Europe, and perhaps against Japan and Australia, as long as that factorial difference of 32 in consumption rates persists.

(My emphasis in quote.)

Controversial professor? Or just stating the obvious? (I say: stating the blaringly obvious!)

Jared Diamond recently vented similar thoughts in an interview: Population versus Consumption (transcript and audio).

Friday, February 08, 2008

Israeli attempt to divert water from Lebanon thwarted

Lebanese residents have thwarted an attempt by Israeli workers backed by Israeli troops to reopen a channel that would allow them to divert rain water form Lebanese territory, the state-run National News Agency reported.

It said on Saturday the channel was shut by the Lebanese army for over a year after it had caused damage to crops in the border Lebanese villages of Adassiyeh and Kfar Kila.

NNA said work stopped at the channel when a Lebanese army patrol, backed by Spanish peacekeepers, was dispatched to the area after tension ran high.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Chemical Weapon Time Bomb Ticks in the Baltic Sea

For almost 50 years chemical weapons from two World Wars have been lying at the bottom of the Baltic Sea. Authorities deny they are a danger, but environmentalists are calling for their removal and proper disposal.

Water Wars: Paradigms

The first camp consists largely of free-market libertarians with a short-term quarterly profits vision. They argue that we must let the markets decide what water, and how much of it, should be for sale. They regard water as a no different than any other commodity except for the fact that it has a stronger sales hook - it's essential for life. The other camp counters that the markets should not allocate access to something that should be a universal human right. Access to drinking water - and life itself - should not be available only to those who can afford it.

From the originating site's about page:
The Asymmetric Threats Contingency Alliance is a philanthropic expert initiative founded in 2001 by mi2g to understand and to address complex global challenges. ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on opportunities and threats arising from climate chaos, radical poverty, organised crime, extremism, informatics, nanotechnology, robotics, genetics, artificial intelligence and financial systems.

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