Global Warming and al-Qaeda in the Greater Indian Ocean

Politico says that the fate of the earth, i.e. the climate bill in the senate, is now in the hands of Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico. This is because he is seen as someone who could get a bipartisan consensus. But Democrats on the Hill are missing their big opportunity to appeal to Republicans by not foregrounding climate change as a security issue–in fact, an al-Qaeda issue. That’s right, Fox Cable News. You can’t be a ‘war on terror’ hawk if you blow off the dangers of climate change. Those bombings in Kampala you went crazy about? Not completely unrelated to East African drought. And, Bangladesh is not going to be pretty. Read on.

The general bad news is that a University of Alabama team of scientists has concluded that the first half of 2010 has been the hottest first five months of a year on record.

The specific bad news is that a team of climate scientists at the University of Colorado has discovered that some parts of the Indian Ocean are warming and rising more than others. A huge bathtub-shaped region has warmed 1 degree Fahrenheit during the past 50 years. The rising waters could threaten the low-lying Maldives islands. The change also has implications for monsoon rains, perhaps making them heavier in the east (Bangladesh, Orissa in India) and producing drought in the west (i.e. East Africa). The warming of these waters is almost certainly caused by man-made increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

These findings are very bad news, since the last thing Bangladesh needs is more flooding, and the last thing East Africa needs is more drought. Floods and displacement in Bangladesh could push Muslims in that populous country to desperation and extremism.

And, the increasing tendency to drought in East Africa– Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, is wrought up with the poor security situation in that part of the world and in turn present opportunities for warlords and al-Qaeda to take advantage of the impoverished and displaced. A failed state like that in Somalia cannot be entirely blamed on climate change, but it is one contributory cause. In short, East Africans are already facing climate-change disaster— and Darfur, Eritrea, and extremism in Somalia (which was responsible for Sunday’s horrific bombings in Uganda) is connected to this problem.

That is, yes, the ‘war on terror’ hawks who want to defeat al-Qaeda will have to start fighting global warming as a key part of the struggle for human security.

Young Turks discuss the willful ignorance of the climate change deniers, i.e. the New Flat Earth Society. They also note that solar radiation from sunspots has been at a 30-year minimum but is likely to increase during the next few years– so it could have been even hotter this past decade.

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10 Responses

  1. When talking about climate change, be careful not to overhype data for individual years – interannual variability is not the same thing as climate change. When 2011 (or some year in the near future) inevitably is cooler than this year has been, the Flat Earth Society will simply jump on that as a way to “prove” you wrong. The general bad news is the situation in the Indian Ocean; the fact that this year is the hottest on record is, in and of itself, not very significant.

  2. Thanks for putting this up as this needs to be discussed. A small nit: one of the speakers stated that global climate change will alter the course of the jet stream. I think he meant to say the Gulf Stream. The jet stream will be altered, but that will occur as a secondary affect of the change of the ocean current.

  3. Fox News wouldn’t see it that way. They’d see it as God’s punishment of Muslim countries–not only aren’t they Christian, all Muslims are either terrorists or terrorist sympathizers. (Remember the pictures of Palesetinians celebrating on 9/11?)

  4. The climate bill expands support for cap and trade, coal power, nuclear power ($54 billion in loan guarantees!) , and off-shore drilling. It is not the climate bill we need. This is a betrayal (just like in Copenhagen).

  5. Naturally climate change is a national security threat. Reading this reminded me of a Johann Hari piece on the environment.

    “I have stood on the borders of dried-out Darfur and heard refugees explain, “The water dried up, and so we started to kill each other for what was left.””

    Source: link to

    Of course the Middle East faces (or more accurately will face) similar troubles. Israel/Lebanon/Syria arguing over water rights will be made worse by climate change. Same for Egypt & neighbours regarding the drying Nile River. Iraqi violence also spiked every summer during the war. Droughts also affecting India/Pakistan food production. Resource wars are the primary cause of most wars as resources like water and crops decreases violence is likely if not inevitable.

  6. BP and Goldman Sachs support cap & trade and a new carbon derivatives market. Do we really need another scam?

  7. “But Democrats on the Hill are missing their big opportunity to appeal to Republicans by not foregrounding climate change as a security issue–in fact, an al-Qaeda issue. “

    Has it really been established that Democrats, on the Hill or otherwise, really care about climate change?

    I do remember reading an old article about the disputes over water between Israelis and Palestinians a few years ago which quoted one of the relevant names as saying something along the lines of “For the last 5000 years most of the wars in the region have been fought over water.”

    I believe I still have a copy on my computer so I’ll look it up after work and provide a proper citation for it.

    • I wasn’t able to find the quote and it’s entirely possible I misremember, or imagined it.

      However what I did find were these bits:

      Not only do they charge the Israelis with stealing Arab water, but the Palestinians have asserted that over-pumping by the Israelis on both sides of Green Line threatened the long-term viability of water reserves.
      These critics argued that unchecked Palestinian drilling on the West Bank side of the Green Line would have a drastic impact on the quantity and quality of Israel’s water supply. They stress that the mountain aquifer is the principal long-term aquifer in Israel’s water system and prime source of drinking water for most major Israeli cities. Overpumping would lead to increased salination of the aquifer because it would lower the water-table below the red line, which would allow the penetration of saline water from the Mediterranean Sea and cause irreversible damage to the aquifers close to the coast.

      ‘Safe yield’ is the amount of groundwater that can be pumped from an aquifer on a regular and sustained basis without damaging it as a source.

      Overpumping increases the danger of salt-water infiltration by lowering the water-table. When the ground-water reserve sinks below a certain level – the so-called ‘red line’ – sea-water is drawn upwards causing salination

      In the words of Yosef Ben-Dor of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, ‘for us, it is obvious that if the Palestinians do not have enough water, we shall not have peace’.

      Most objective observers believe that there can be no real peace between Israel and Palestine without a water agreement and that there can be no water agreement without an equitable watersharing formula and cooperative management of joint water resources.

      From a 1997 article in ‘Survival’ by Alwyn R. Rouyer called “The Water Issue in the Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process”

      And the abstract from an Issue Paper in ‘Ground Water’ during 2004 written by by Ronit Nativ:
      Despite the central management of Israel’s water resources and the highly planned strategy for a sustainable water supply, Israel has twice faced an acute water crisis during the past decade. Although the visible problem is related to a lack of additional quantities of water, the deterioration of water quality appears to be endangering the future use of available water quantities as well. A long-term policy of ground water mining (translated to salt water encroachments), and irrigation with relatively saline water and recycled waste water, among other damage, account for this deterioration. Enhanced flushing of the salt and contaminant load from the aquifers (using various techniques) is proposed as a solution to the problem.

      This is important for a couple of reasons including the observation that it often seems to get missed in discussions on climate change that it isn’t just limited to Global Warming and it’s not just burning up fossil fuels that is rendering our planet uninhabitable. Irresponsible farming habits and short-term thinking in water use will waste the fertility of our soil and poison our drinking supplies (and that of our livestock).

      Second, having seen nations go to war and commit unspeakable atrocities to exploit and control resources like oil and gold for centuries or millenia it should come as no surprise that people are willing to kill each other over to preserve a reliable source of drinking water for themselves. From what I understand the atrocities in the Sudan were at least somewhat the result of scarcity of water in the region.

  8. I’m going straight to the seventh floor on this one because there is no time to waste. People should know already that global overheating due to the affects of greenhouse gas forcing will trap increasing amounts of incoming solar energy and that the Earth’s latent heat produced from radioactive elements in the crust will add more. Assuming by 2015 a fatwa has been declared against those things adding to global warming and that nations are by then willing to work together to a large extent and share technology and resources it’s still unlikely there won’t be a need for security forces. The people still won’t grasp what’s happening and many will still be blind to the need to put down arms and work together. Shelter will be needed. Jobs and hope. If present environmental safe havens where Nature survives have not been protected from this point forward, 2010 not 2015 hope will be hard to keep alive. This is God’s good Earth and we who live today have a chance to muster a response to the threat upon it.

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