TORONTO – A United Nations report says Canada
will have to change its strategy for battling
forest fires because climate change is causing
larger, more intense blazes.

The report says this development is expected to
impact the country’s wood supply, the forest
industry and forestry-dependent communities and
alter the traditional fire fighting practices.

Experts say global warming will create ideal
conditions in Canada for forest fires, such as
warm temperatures and dry air.

A research scientist with Natural Resources
Canada says more than two million hectares of
Canada’s forest is claimed by fire every year.

Mike Flannigan says if climate change continues
at its current pace, the area claimed by fire
could double by the end of the century.

The UN report said the changes in the number,
size and intensity of fires pose an increased
threat to people and the environment and will
also cost countries millions in infrastructure
losses and fire-fighting costs.

© 2007 CTVglobemedia All Rights Reserved.

“It doesn’t take a genius to work out that as the desert moves southwards
there is a physical limit to what [ecological] systems can sustain, and so
you get one group displacing another.”

The Guardian UK
Saturday 23 June 2007 
     Darfur Conflict Heralds Era of Wars Triggered by Climate Change,
UN Report Warns
     By Julian Borger
     Drought and advancing desert blamed for tensions. Chad and
southern Africa also at risk from warming.

     The conflict in Darfur has been driven by climate change and
environmental degradation, which threaten to trigger a succession of
new wars across Africa unless more is done to contain the damage,
according to a UN report published yesterday.

     “Darfur … holds grim lessons for other countries at risk,” an
18-month study of Sudan by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)

     With rainfall down by up to 30% over 40 years and the Sahara
advancing by well over a mile every year, tensions between farmers
and herders over disappearing pasture and evaporating water holes
threaten to reignite the half-century war between north and south
Sudan, held at bay by a precarious 2005 peace accord.

     The southern Nuba tribe, for example, have warned they could
“restart the war” because Arab nomads – pushed southwards into their
territory by drought – are cutting down trees to feed their camels.

     The UNEP investigation into links between climate and conflict in
Sudan predicts that the impact of climate change on stability is
likely to go far beyond its borders. It found there could be a drop
of up to 70% in crop yields in the most vulnerable areas of the
Sahel, an ecologically fragile belt stretching from Senegal to Sudan.
“It illustrates and demonstrates what is increasingly becoming a
global concern,” said Achim Steiner, UNEP’s executive director. “It
doesn’t take a genius to work out that as the desert moves southwards
there is a physical limit to what [ecological] systems can sustain,
and so you get one group displacing another.”

     He also pointed to incipient conflicts in Chad “at least in part
associated with environmental changes”, and to growing tensions in
southern Africa fuelled by droughts and flooding.

     Estimates of the dead from the Darfur conflict, which broke out
in 2003, range from 200,000 to 500,000. The immediate cause was a
regional rebellion, to which Khartoum responded by recruiting Arab
militias, the janjaweed, to wage a campaign of ethnic cleansing
against African civilians. 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:

     * The desert in northern Sudan has advanced southwards by 60
miles over the past 40 years;

     * 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.

     A peace deal signed last year by rebels and the Khartoum
government broke down, but this month President Omar al-Bashir said
he would accept the deployment of a joint UN and African Union force.
He has reneged on similar pledges, but UN diplomats are hopeful this
one will stick. However, the UNEP report warns that no peace will
last without sustained investment in containing environmental damage
and adapting to climate change. Mr Steiner said: “Simply to return
people to the situation there were in before is a high-risk strategy.”

     The G8 summit ended in Germany with consensus over the severity
of the climate change problem but no agreement on how it should be
contained. A common approach is supposed to be negotiated under UN
auspices at the end of the year.

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