Sunday, October 25, 2009

Video: NATO chief on security challenge from climate change

Climate change will have a significant impact on our overall security environment both in the south and in the north.

All of his examples have been detailed here at Ecowar. But he says two things: One, the solutions should be political, not military; and two, the military can contribute by lowering CO2 emissions.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bloody Blog Action Day 2009

I did an Ecowar post for Blog Action Day 2008 on poverty but for the 2009 topic on climate change I ended up with a rant on the Danish (COP15 host) government: Something is rotten in the state of COP15 at TH!NK ABOUT IT. Perhaps I "should" have summed up the previous Ecowar and climate change stuff and cross posted. In stead I have scavenged the thousands of "BAD09" posts for something bloody.

The Ugly

First check out AgWired / Climate Change is BAD Topic - an agriculture news site proposed a boycott of BAD09 because of what they say is misinformation, quoting this:
Agricultural production around the world is responsible for nearly as much greenhouse gas emissions as all forms of transportation put together, so it shouldn’t be surprising that the food choices we make have a big impact on the climate

Misinformation? I don't know exactly about the transportation, but from my own recent Food and climate change - save or doom the world while eating:
Current trends in food choices point toward increased environmental effects [...] agriculture is the main source of the increase in atmospheric methane (~50%) and nitrous oxide (~60%)

The Bad

The boycott did not seem to be very effective anyway. In fact, a blog called "Farming First" eagerly posted Research Linking Climate-induced Conflict and Farming, basically a couple of selective quotes from The Economist / Climate change and warfare: Cool heads or heated conflicts?. Very interesting indeed.
a newly published study analysing the historical connection between war and climate throws into question the assumption that rising temperatures and violence go hand in hand [...] in the more remote past the effects of cold weather on harvests led to supply shortages, and that these increased the likelihood of people fighting over food and the land needed to produce it [...] the reason the relationship between warfare and cold vanishes in the mid-18th century is that this is the moment when the industrial revolution began.

So far, so good. Reminds me of the good old Zhang paper on historical Chinese data (see Climate change and conflict frequency). Their conclusion:
The lesson, rather, is that the way to minimise the likelihood of climate-induced conflict in the future is to continue the process of crop improvement (for example, by taking advantage of the potential of genetic engineering) so that heat- and drought-tolerant varieties are available; to make farmers aware of these new crops and encourage their use; and to promote free trade and non-agricultural economic development.

I'm sorry but that's a bit naive for me. Although not the type to entirely write off GMOs as part of the solution a couple of questions immediately comes to mind that The Economist fail to address. Such as: given the history of GMOs so far - mainly developed for high tech intensive farming - how do they see it improve to reach the 3rd world where the problems are? If industrialization caused climate change how exactly should more of it solve another problem caused by climate change in turn? Etc. Perhaps The Economist should read this BAD09 conrtibution: Food, famine and climate change – India’s scorched earth (about our various good ideas for India's agriculture).

The Good

BAD09 was hosted by (which also angered AgWired above, go figure). At least two of their regular blogs addressed conflict on BAD09: Humanitarian Relief / How Climate Change Causes Conflict and Stop Genocide / Conflict in the Age of Climate Change. They got a video an lots of links, check them out.

On for some real blogging: 100 Effects of Global Warming. Appears to be our "normal guy" copy/pasting a bit? Anyway...
People Are Dying
150,000: Number of people the World Health Organization estimates are killed by climate-change-related issues every year.
U.N.: As Dangerous As War
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said this year that global warming poses as much of a threat to the world as war.
Genocide in Sudan
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon charges, “Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.

The Best

By far the best Blog Action Day contribution is Energy, climate change, and the indignant desert birds of willful self-destruction. Proof: It has an image of an army of marching penguins with machine guns. Oh, and it's also an original, analytical and well written article.
We cannot separate the energy crisis from the climate change crisis. In economic and environmental terms, both are two sides of the same coin. [...] global climate change is more than merely a technical or structural problem. It has deep historical and cultural roots and a system of unspoken values instilled from the beginning of civilization and passed from generation to generation.

Excellent but apart from mentioning the "wars for oil" this is what we get on conflict:
Vulnerable regions such as sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and the island nations of the Pacific will face food and water shortages, catastrophic flooding, unprecedented refugee crises, religious conflict, and the spread of contagious diseases. These will demand massive humanitarian aid efforts and/or a military response

Of course I linked to that story here at Ecowar already in August ;-)

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The military - green or black?

Destroying the Environment Is Also a War Crime
[Throughout human history there have been] many deliberate acts to destroy or exploit the natural environment to achieve military goals. In the 5th century BC the retreating Scythians poisoned the water wells in an effort to slow the advancing Persian army. Roman troops razed the city of Carthage in 146 BC and poisoned the surrounding soil with salt to prevent its future cultivation. The American Civil War saw the widespread implementation of ’scorched earth’ policies.


At this moment the world is witnessing a continuing humanitarian and environmental catastrophe in the western region of Darfur in Sudan, which has seen the poisoning of water wells and drinking water installations as part of a deliberate government-supported strategy by the Janjaweed militia to eliminate or displace the ethnic black Africans living in that region.


environmental damage and exploitation is still largely regarded, as rape once was, as an 'unfortunate but inevitable' consequence of war. It is, of course, true that war and armed conflict are inherently destructive of the environment, but that is no reason to allow leaders to deliberately or recklessly target the environment in order to achieve their military goals.

Green Camo: Seeing Through the Military’s New Environmentalism
By the Pentagon's own figures, the U.S. military uses more fossil fuels than any other single entity. But the Pentagon's figures only take into consideration vehicle transport and facility maintenance. They don’t account for the energy needed to build something like the massive imperial embassy or mega-bases in Iraq or reconstruct the rest of the country. They also don’t factor in the energy used by related branches, like NASA, the nuclear industry, or the thousands of contractors that make or do things for the military.”

Yet the U.S. military isn't listed as one of the World Wildlife Fund's 'footprint issues'. Nor is it mentioned by the Natural Resources Defense Council or Sierra Club as the largest consumer of the 'dirty fuels' both lobby against.

Wendell Berry, who … spent most of his life linking issues of the environment to the many maladies of our society, once said that just as military violence is ignored by most conservationists, violence against the earth is a matter ignored by most pacifists. The antiwar and environmental movements must bond over this common enemy and see, as Berry put it, that we cannot hope to end violence against each other until we end our violence against the earth.

The Independent / Armies around the world go green to save fuel – and lives
You could, perhaps, call it the "military-ecological complex". For the world's most powerful armies are going green, trying to kickstart an environmental-technological revolution in civvy street in the process.


Half of [the US military] wartime casualties are sustained by convoys, which are mostly carrying fuel and are a favoured target for enemies. It estimates that every 1 per cent of fuel saved means 6,444 soldiers do not have to travel in a vulnerable convoy.

One simple innovation – insulating tents in Iraq and Afghanistan with a layer of hard foam, reducing the need to heat and cool them – has saved 100,000 gallons of fuel a day. The Pentagon aims to get a quarter of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. It is to buy 4,000 electric cars (the world's largest single order) for use on its bases, and is developing hybrid armoured vehicles for the battlefield.

It has saved fuel by cutting the weight of aircraft – removing floor mats, redundant tools, loading thick manuals on to laptops, and using lighter paint – and within seven years plans to fly them on a 50/50 blend of ordinary fuel and biofuel, probably made from algae.


Scientists hope that the massive spending power of the military will spin off environmental technologies into civilian life, as jet engines, microchips, and global positioning systems did in the past. "We can be a test bed for a lot of things that normally would not seem to make powerful economic sense," said the US Assistant Army Secretary, Keith Eastin.

Go green, army. Photography by jrseles.

Being the devils advocate for a second: If they did go to war to secure oil in the first place how ironic if the warfare itself will lead to less need for oil!

The above stories were found at Toban Black and The Unsuitablog. Thank you for blogging.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Our mobiles are bleeding

We don't want to think too much about it. But every time we buy a new gadget we support a mining industry of questionable ethics. In the case of the mines in eastern Congo it is extraordinary brutal.

In a time of desperate need for re-forestation to fight climate change, in Congo wide swaths of jungle have been cleared to make way for 15,000-25,000 poor boys and men working under slave-like conditions, living in tents on mud, guarded by "autonomous" army units, earning little while risking their lives. Although a violent environment the biggest killers are diseases and collapsing caves.

A movie about these mines, Blood in the Mobile, is in the works. The trailer is ready:

(If you haven't seen Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain at least watch the trailer for the music which is taken from that film. Beautiful!)

As they say:
"Different armed groups are fighting to gain control over the mine."

Furthermore, has a slideshow of 34 photographs: The Incredible Story of Conflict Mineral Mining in Images.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, scene of the deadliest conflict since World War II, remains mired in violence in significant part because of the international demand for electronic products that requires minerals found in the eastern Congo. The minerals mined here are used to make our iPhones, laptops and MP3 players, but at a great expense. Armed groups finance themselves through the illicit conflict mineral trade and fight over control of mines and taxation points inside Congo.

Congo is mentioned in the 100 Places to Remember project (see previous post). But it only concerns the deforestation of the precious original Itubi forest; home to the Mbuti pygmy people, endangered leopards, chimps, okapis etc. Deforestation not only removes essential carbon sinks it releases CO2 corresponding to about a fourth of the worlds fossil fuel use.

More: Official Blood in the Mobile website, Raise Hope for Congo.

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