Crisis Forum climate change and violence workshop 6, Winchester 25/11/11

Crisis Forum held their 6th workshop of 7 on the 25th Novemeber 2011 on climate change and violence, focusing on "Securing the System: Geo-political Implications for the Present World Order". Here are some selected tweets from me from the day on what the speakers said and some thoughts of mine too

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  1. Crisis Forum is a group of academics and researchers working and interested in the field of crisis in the modern world, based on the premise that our current political and economic systems are untenable in the long-term.  As part of this remit a series of workshops has been roaming around the UK for the last few years entitled "Climate Change and Violence", exploring the geopolitical implications of climate change on conflict and politics around the world.  This time the title was "Securing the System: Geo-political Implications for the Present World Order", with a focus on how policies designed to mitigate climate change along with its impacts are already starting to shape how nation-states interact and clash in the 21st century.
  2. Beth Walker represented China Dialogue (chinadialogue.net/), a website connecting environmental issues and China with the West.  One particular focus is the Himalayan region, which they refer to as the 'Third pole' on the basis of the large extent of ice coverage.  Climate change is set to affect this region significantly, and with growing demand for cleaner energy the region is seeing a vast amount of dam construction.
  3. Issues with decreased water supplies downstream and the risk of dam breaches in such a seismically active area is already beginning to affect inter-state relations in the region, for example between China and India, India and Pakistan/Bangladesh or further southeast between Vietnam and Cambodia/Laos.
  4. The following quite sums up the situation:
  5. To avert issues, cooperation between the states in the region is required over managing the watersheds 1.4 billion people depend upon, but whether they do as tensions and temperatures rise is yet to be seen.
  6. Kenneth Richter was speaking on behalf of Friends of the Earth on how states and companies buying up land in Africa and elsewhere for growing food and Biofuels for their own countries is impacting on the poverty-stricken countries they're growing in.  Surprsingly, British companies come in the top three of the 3rd world 'land-grabbers'.
  7. A convincing graph showing a correlation between food riots and linked conflicts with food prices was shown, and as food prices are likely to increase with the huge amount of biofuels needed for carbon reduction targets as well as larger countries using poorer countried for their own food production it seems likely that the risk of conflict over food will grow.
  8. Despite claiming to focus on using marginal, non-agricultural lands to limit impacts on food growing, companies are often just buying up the best food growing lands to maximise their harvest insread.
  9. Despite being a by-product of carbon emission reduction targets, biofuels produced in the tropics (and especially on former forested areas) end up producing more carbon emissions than with regular fuel, and so don't even contribute to reducing emissions.
  10. Ayesha Siddqi, a research student at King's College London, came to present the basis of her current research into how tensions over water is contributing to the rise of the political fringe, with a focus on Pakistani politics.
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