Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Drought, Climate Change, and Societal Problems

The problems Kenya faces right now are probably indicative of common situations the world will have to face as the century winds on.

Kenya is in the middle of a terrible drought. This happens from time to time, though certainly climate change can make droughts worse. There are lots of people and cattle in Kenya as well, putting too much pressure on the limited resources of the country. When drought hits, people start killing each other over control to resources. In the last week, more than 30 Kenyans have died in tribal raids to steal cattle in order to replenish depleted herds.

We can't blame any one drought or hurricane or natural disaster on climate change, even though they are likely to become more common. But we can directly link climate change to melting glaciers, a situation which is making Kenya's water supplies even more threatened. Right now, with the drought combined with dwlindling glacial melt, there isn't enough water to run the nation's power plants. People are getting increasingly desperate and turning to violence as a result.

It's going to be a real worldwide challenge to deal with these conflicts in coming decades, both within and between nations.