Climate change excuses genocide?

Fred Pearce has an interesting article in the Telegraph about a trend in using climate change as an excuse for genocide.

Climate change is being used as “a convenient excuse for wars, violence, conflict and bigotry brought on by migration,” says Mike Hulme, until recently director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research in Norwich.

As for the supposed helplessness of the Sudanese government in Darfur, Jan Pronk, the UN head of mission in Darfur, puts it this way: “Khartoum is booming on oil, but not a dinar is being spent on water or health care in Darfur.”

While Pearce correctly points out that the use of such explanations frequently lead to diplomatic laissez-faire attitudes, he doesn’t dig deep enough to uncover the kernel of truth that lies beneath such overly simplified statements. Darfur, to use his own example, has its roots in a massive drought that struck in the 1980s and killed hundreds of thousands of people.

It was this event, probably more than any other, that set the wheels of the current conflict in motion. As so many people were dying with little help from their capital, the residents of the region began to feel disenfranchised, which only worsened as the war between Khartoum and the South continued, creating the very real impression that the government cared little for the people of Darfur.

The simple truth is that climate change (or more accurately, unexpected climate shifts or collapses) is certainly one factor that may contribute to an outbreak of genocide. The violence itself, however, is almost always rooted in a clash of cultural ideals and misguided ideologies.

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