Global warming threatens to make hotter some of the world's most heated religious arguments, says Philip Jenkins in the New Republic.
The band of countries that span or come close to the equator stands out for its multitude of ethnic and religious conflicts. It also [correlation implies causation?] is a region that will be increasingly vulnerable to devastating droughts over the next 50 years, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Fights over scarcer arable land and water are likely to take a religious hue, with minorities likely to bear the brunt of the burden, says Mr. Jenkins, a professor of religious studies at Penn State. Those minorities include Muslims in Uganda and Kenya and Coptic Christians in Egypt. Already, climate change seems to have fed the conflict in Darfur, where the battle between rival Muslim factions has its roots in prolonged drought, says Mr. Jenkins.
Climate has been a factor in religious strife stretching back more than a millennium. The crop shortages that resulted from the so-called Little Ice Age that began in the late 13th century underlay some of the subsequent period's religious persecution, including witchcraft trials and pogroms on Jews. Resource shortages in the Middle East provoked violence against Christian minorities. This past suggests that the scarcity brought about by warmer temperatures will make it hard for religious minorities to survive, and prompt splinter groups to seek out more sympathetic nations.
At the same time, says Mr. Jenkins, the plight of Christian minorities could fuel the growing interest among Christian conservatives in the U.S. in environmental issues.
Told you so!