Desertification, thermometers, and tennis courts

Misplaced thermometers on tarmacs and tennis courts are cute to those who think real science actually uses such measurement devices–and who have cartoon versions of how real science functions in terms of both discipline and peer review.

Unfortunately, the real science is not quite so silly; neither is the real world of global warming, as a new UN report is about to affirm. The northern Sudan desert has been advancing more than a mile a year since 1960. At the heart of the genocide in Darfu may lie global warming as desertification increases, drought becomes more pervasive, and as tribes struggle for vanishing resources.

In the Guardian, we find the following synopsis of a just released UNEP study:

The UNEP study suggests the true genesis of the conflict pre-dates 2003 and is to be found in failing rains and creeping desertification. It found that:

    Rainfall has dropped by 16%-30%;

  • Climate models for the region suggest a rise of between 0.5C and 1.5C between 2030 and 2060;
  • Yields in the local staple, sorghum, could drop by 70%.

In the Washington Post, the UN secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon, argued: “Almost invariably, we discuss Darfur in a convenient military and political shorthand – an ethnic conflict pitting Arab militias against black rebels and farmers. Look to its roots, though, and you discover a more complex dynamic. Amid the diverse social and political causes, the Darfur conflict began as an ecological crisis, arising at least in part from climate change.”
In turn, the Darfur conflict has exacerbated Sudan’s environmental degradation, forcing more than two million people into refugee camps. Deforestation has been accelerated while underground aquifers are being drained.

Turning to RedOrbit, we have an overview of the kinds of conflict and preparations already occuring as global warming takes a firmer grip on the world:

Underlying the Darfur conflict is a struggle between nomadic and pastoral communities for resources that have been made more scarce by climate change. The droughts of the 1980s are believed to have sparked a slow-burning ecological crisis that exploded into conflict at the beginning of 2003
Clashes in Ghana between Fulani cattle herdsman and local farmers over water and land, have become more widespread in the past two years, as climate change expands the Sahara desert. Herders are reportedly arming themselves and a bigger confrontation might be brewing
In the Mount Elgon region more than 40,000 people have been displaced as rival clans and ethnic groups fight over access to land. The conflict flared up in the second half of 2006 and politicians have been accused of stoking the violence by awarding land to their own tribes
Water resources could be the trigger that rekindles war between Syria and Israel. The Sea of Galilee is fed from the Israeli- occupied Golan Heights, where each Israeli settler is allotted seven times more water than the Syrian population
A predicted sea level rise of half a metre would leave 34 million people homeless. To try and prevent an influx of such refugees, India is building a 1,600-mile wall costing billions of dollars along the border. It is due to be completed later this year

For the naysayers comfortable in their New York aparments keeping a close eye on their portfolios, making sure no one touches their wallets, Africa, India, and the Middle East are realities only the stock market can measure.

For them, that India would stupidly build such a sixteen hundred mile wall based on erroneous thermometers must be a constant joke at the water cooler. For a country where three out of ten Republican candidates do not believe in evolution, what can you say about the sorry state of science and politics?