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Global Warming Expanding Tropics—As Always, The Poor Will Bear The Burdens

The portion of the Earth covered by tropics has expanded since 1979 and will continue to expand as the world warms.

From the BBC article—  

While geographers define “The Tropics” rigidly as the region between 23.5 degrees North and 23.5 degrees South, to atmospheric scientists it is a more variable zone marked by features such as the jet stream and the circulation known as Hadley cells.

On these measures, the tropics have expanded since the era of reliable satellite observation began in 1979.

“The edges of the tropical belt are the outer boundaries of the subtropical dry zones, and their poleward shift could lead to fundamental shifts in ecosystems and in human settlements,” the researchers write in the journal Nature Geoscience.

“Shifts in precipitation patterns would have obvious implications for agriculture and water resources, and could present serious hardships in marginal areas.”

As is the case in so many aspects of life, the poor will bear many of the most difficult burdens of this climate change.  

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in its series of reports this year that serious impacts on food and water supplies lie ahead, including:

  • 75-250 million people across Africa could face water shortages by 2020
  • Crop yields could increase by 20% in East and South East Asia, but decrease by up to 30% in Central and South Asia
  • Agriculture fed by rainfall could drop by 50% in some African countries by 2020

The scientists behind the new study note that the tropical zone appears to be expanding much faster than predicted by computer models.

Some people think of the tropics of being like the photo above.

But for many, expanded tropics will make life more like the photo below

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , | 8 Comments

Facts, Views & Bloggers On The Trouble In Kenya

Family flees violence in Kenya

Folks in Kenya are slaughtering each other.

Straight out the Nazi playbook of burning synagogues, a church full of people was burned in the Kenyan city of Eldoret.  30 people were burned to death.

The pretense is the disputed outcome of the recent Presidential election.

Closer to the heart of the matter may be long standing ethnic and tribal divisions.

From The BBC—

Ethnic tension, which has dogged Kenyan politics since independence in 1963, is widely believed to be behind the violence.

With patronage and corruption still common, many Kenyans believe that if one of their relatives is in power, they will benefit directly, for example through a relative getting a civil service job.

The current tensions can be traced back to the 1990s, when the then President Daniel arap Moi was forced to introduce multi-party politics.

Below is a picture of the President of Kenya—Mwai Kibaki. When Mr Kibaki took office in 2002, he was supposed to bring fresh life to Kenyan democracy after the long and corrupt rule of Daniel arap Moi. 

That has not worked out so well.

Here is profile of opposition candidate Raila Odinga. Mr. Odinga does not fully seem like a committed democrat either.

Here is the blog Kenyan Pundit written by Harvard law student Ory Okolloh.

Insight Kenya is a blog written from an oppostion view. It has a number of pictures of the current conflict.

What An African Woman Thinks is done quite well I feel. African Woman is a blogger who does not know what way to turn in the ongoing violence.

Here is the Kenyan Newspaper The Standard.

Here is the beginning of the Amnesty International assessment of Kenya.

The government intensified its intimidation and harassment of journalists and human rights defenders. Impunity for abuses by police was reinforced as the authorities failed to investigate allegations of police brutality. Violence against women and girls, including rape and domestic violence, remained a serious concern, although a new law was passed outlawing sexual offences.

Here is the more comprehensive report from Amnesty.

Here is the beginning of the editorial on the election from The Economist—

THE decision to return Kenya’s 76-year-old incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, to office was not made by the Kenyan people but by a group of hardline Kikuyu leaders. They made up their minds before the result was announced, perhaps even before the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had opened up a lead in early returns from the December 27th election. It was a civil coup.

The planning was meticulous. All that was needed were the extra votes to squeak past Mr Odinga in what had been a closely and decently contested election. That was why returns from Central Province, Mr Kibaki’s fiercely loyal Kikuyu heartland, were inexplicably held back. And why, in some constituencies, a large number of voters mysteriously decided just to vote in the presidential race, ignoring the parliamentary ballot. Real damage was done in Nairobi, the capital, by inflating the number of votes for Mr Kibaki, even after results were publicly announced. Election monitors were turned away in Nairobi while the tallying went on. But European Union (EU) monitors verified tens of thousands of votes pinched in this way. Mr Odinga’s supporters were not innocent either. There were serious irregularities in his home province of Nyanza and probably ballot stuffing on his behalf elsewhere.

Here is the full editorial.

Here are some basic facts about Kenya from the BBC

  • Full name: The Republic of Kenya
  • Population: 34.3 million (UN, 2005)
  • Capital: Nairobi
  • Area: 582,646 sq km (224,961 sq miles)
  • Major languages: Swahili, English
  • Major religion: Christianity
  • Life expectancy: 48 years (men), 46 years (women) (UN)
  • Monetary unit: 1 Kenya shilling = 100 cents
  • Main exports: Tea, coffee, horticultural products, petroleum products
  • GNI per capita: US $540 (World Bank, 2005)

Below is a map of ethnic and language groups in Kenya. Look at all those colors. You don’t have to know what any of it means—I don’t—to figure out that these folks have to make the call to get along with each other or else terrible things will happen—Such as is happening right now.

These folks have a life-expectancy of 40-something  and still some of them can’t kill each other fast enough. You really wonder about people sometimes.

 

January 3, 2008 Posted by | Blogging, Elections, History, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment