Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Darfur, Climate & Responsibility

The discovery of a vast underground lake is offering the best hope yet for an end to the war in Darfur. At 30,750 km2 it is the size of Lake Erie and will provide much needed influx of water, and an opportunity for peace, to the Sudan's drought stricken north.

Since 2003, two hundred thousand people have died and a further 2 million have fled the north where water shortages and drought have fueled a human catastrophe of mass migrations and ethnic conflict. With the discovery of this new fresh water resource, plans are moving forward to drill 1000 wells in the area and bring relief to Darfur's people.

The conflict in the region, and the prospect of peace through water, underscores our reliance on the environment and the bigger risks that we're assuming in ignoring the environmental damage that is ongoing throughout the world.

Critics of that view point will point to the overpopulation in the region while turning a blind eye to the same pressures in the United States where the population has swelled to 300,000,000. Critics will downplay the role of environmental damage in bringing on the conflict while ignoring the fact that 12% of the Sudan's forests have been hacked down in past 15 years. Critics will also belligerently shout down the role of climate change in the drought, while embracing fictions and bedtime stories that allow them to ignore all evidence to the contrary and have an easy night's sleep.

Ultimately, it is all about responsibility.

The people of the developed world have built a civilization based on the ideal of personal responsibility. That ideal is the backbone of democracy and the foundation of the free market that drives our economy. What a fitting irony that we are facing unprecedented assaults on our democracy, spiraling debt, and growing environmental carnage while all we can throw up in our defence is litany of excuses.

"It's the Democrat's fault!"

"It's the Liberal's fault!"

"It's all China's fault!"

"It's single mothers' fault",

And the all time winner, "Al Gore's heating bill is too high".

The trend goes far beyond the issue of global warming, and now infects every aspect of our political culture. The reason is simple. We are fat, lazy and more interested in preserving our comforts than taking an honest look at our role in the world's problems. Doing that would mean real responsibility, and there is no time for that in a world of instant gratification and borrowed wealth.

America, and implicitly the modern western world, was built on "Life, Liberty and Freedom". Now the future holds a new American dream with a new call to battle - "Borrow, Spend and Forget"!

It's simple, comfy and easy next to that messy business of personal responsibility.

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