Recently, UN chief Ban Ki Moon
asserted global warming was the cause of the land disputes and ethnic conflict
in Darfur. There are more prosaic reasons. For example, a thousand years ago,
the population of Sudan was three million. A century ago, it was six million.
Now it's 40 million. All this growth was because of superior Western technology
and public health practices. Yeah, it's all the fault of the evil Westerners,
but not for the reason Mr Moon states. The Sahel has been dry for the last
1,500 years. During the last ice age, which ended 12,000 years ago, the Sahel
was more like the American Midwest. But ever since the ice age ended, it kept
getting drier and drier. That was happening even during the time of the Roman
empire, and the people back then noticed, and even left us a few notes on the
matter. All this has been well documented. Check out any history of the Sahara
and the Sahel.
Population growth and long-term climate changes are
not unknown issues at the UN, which has been reporting on these problems for
decades. So why does Mr. Moon try and turn the situation into another victim of
global warming? Possibly because global warming a big deal with the UN at the
moment. Despite that fact that the proposed solutions (most of the planets
major economies voluntarily shrink and depress living standards) are
politically and scientifically impossible to achieve, global warming has become
a major cause for politicians and the mass media. As a practical matter, it's
more important for the UN to play to the image, rather than the reality.
If you go back over the past few decades, you will
see this sort of thing played out again and again. Three decades ago, there was
a huge fuss about how the next ice age was on the way (we are overdue). That
was followed by fear of planet wide famine, and a major oil shortage. Thanks to
the Internet, anyone can now go look up those desperate and breathless reports.
Oddly enough, that does not prevent new planetary disasters from being conjured
up and worshipped, until it becomes obvious that they are bogus, or something
more exciting comes up.
Meanwhile, the real problems, the ones you can
actually solve, like corruption and poverty, get pushed into the background.
Taking another long look backward, we see that the cure for most of the world's
ills are things as simple as education and clean government. Where they occur,
the population and poverty problems are solved. So why doesn't it happen,
especially at the UN? The answer is simple, most of the countries in the UN are
run by people who are the corrupt. Bad government and corruption are very
common, and the people running these badly governed countries are not eager to
reform themselves out of a job. The UN exists to serve its members, and the one
thing its members want to do is stay in power. It's easy for people from
democracies to take for granted that they can change their rulers. But for most
of the worlds' nations, even some of those that call themselves democracies,
deposing dictators is not on the todo list. And talking about it is not on the
Mr. Moons agenda either.