Climate Change: " A Very Serious Threat for Developing Countries"
24 Jul, 2007 02:41 pm
David Zhang is a specialist in geology and geomorphology. He presents his study on the relationship between war and climate variations.
What did you conclude?
The hypothesis of this study is that during the period of time of ancient humans, especially in agricultural societies, food shortages were a major problem, which created conflict between different human groups. I examined the history of China, especially the wars and domestic cycles, and I found a relationship between them.
This not just an issue for China but is a global matter, because in an agricultural society resources are controlled by the climate. For example, during the Little Ice Age, which was a very cold period in Europe in the 16th and 17th century, there was also conflict, like the thirty years war. There was also a general crisis in Korea, Japan, and the Middle East for example. All the densely populated areas were affected by climate change, because the basis of the economy was agriculture.
What do you feel is the probability of such occurrences?
There are always conflicts over resources in human history. In the future the climate variation may not be serious for developed countries, but it is a very serious threat for developing countries like in Africa that rely on agricultural production. This isnít only an issue of agricultural production, sea levels rising, but itís an issue of the entire change of the ecosystem. Ecosystem change will in turn bring about agricultural changes. This is serious because the rise in temperature that we have witnessed has been quite fast. At such a speed with these changes, I donít know if human beings can adapt in such a short period of time.
I feel the current research is not enough, because the research only focuses on the temperature rise versus a systematic analysis of the whole ecosystem on the global warming situation. This is quite serious, because there will be chain reactions between the different components in the ecosystem.
Interview by: Christopher Le Coq
Published online in Springer's journal Human Ecology.
David D. Zhang is an associate professor in the department of geography at the University of Hong Kong.