Articles by Geoff Dabelko
Geoff Dabelko is director of the Environmental Change and Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, DC. He blogs here and at New Security Beat on environment, population, and security issues.
Science diplomacy: An expectations game
In “The Limits of Science Diplomacy,” SciDev.net Director David Dickson argues that scientific collaboration can achieve only very limited diplomatic victories. A conference hosted by the Royal Society in London earlier this month, entitled “New Frontiers in Science Diplomacy” (agenda), seems to have arrived at a similar conclusion. But this view of science diplomacy is […]
Changing the climate with China’s military
When I heard President Obama call for more regular dialogue between the Chinese and American militaries, my first thought was, “Why not the environment?” Perhaps it is not a front-burner issue for both institutions — but that is exactly the point. If dialogue is to improve understanding, build ties, and lower the prospects for confrontation, […]
Fallout from Jordan's radioactive water
Last week, I wrote on New Security Beat about startling new research that found very high levels of naturally occurring radioactivity in some of Jordan's fossil groundwater. Measurements up to 2,000 percent higher than the international drinking water safety levels were found in the Disi aquifers in southern Jordan. Duke University's Avner Vengosh and his international team published the results in the highly respected, peer-reviewed journal Environmental Science & Technology.
Last Friday a Jordan Times story featured government assurances that all of the country's water was safe -- and tried to discredit the messenger. In a transparent attempt to raise doubt about the scientists' motives, the article points out that lead author Vengosh is Israeli-born (he is now a U.S. citizen).
The need for good research
The rush to put biofuels in our gas tanks has given people analyzing natural resources and conflict some work to do. How are European and American policy mandates to dramatically increase the use of biofuels affecting the places that grow biofuel inputs? It seems fair to say that little consideration has been given to the potential conflict and equity impacts of this surge in demand for palm oil, sugarcane, and corn.
After President Bush's 2007 State of the Union address, which called for massive increases in biofuels, we heard stories of skyrocketing corn tortilla prices and resulting social disruptions.
Now we have stories coming from places like West Kalimantan, a remote region of Indonesia where the rush to plant palm-oil plantations is generating conflict with Indonesians who grow rubber trees and other crops on their small plots of land. The NGO Friends of the Earth Netherlands has a new report calling out the unethical practices of some palm-oil companies that clear existing crops first and make payouts (maybe) to the farmers who own the land later.
It strikes me that this particular link between natural resource management and conflict offers an avenue for addressing one of the traditional shortcomings of environment and conflict research.