that over the next generation, two rivers—the Ganges and theBrahmaputra, which spawned and sustained some of the world’sgreatest civilizations and which today are the lifeblood of tens of millions in India ad Bangladesh—may dry up, seasonally if notpermanently. New research published in the summer of 2006 showshow a global warming of as little as 2
C will lead to significant changesin forest cover in Amazonia, increases in wildfires in the semi-aridregions of the world, and more intense droughts in West Africa.In many regions, the nature of the environment (weather patterns andland cover) is changing more rapidly than do the society and theeconomics of the peoples that rely on them for survival and prosperity. This mismatch between the environment and adaptation will lead tomore failures of local economies and security regimes. Different climatemodels predict different degrees of change, but they all point in thesame direction. We are thus likely to see:
More and greater annual and storm-surge flooding of the mostpopulous deltas around the world.
The failure of rivers fed by glacial melt waters.
More communities heading towards famine and political instabilityas they fail to adapt quickly enough to changing environments.
More people on the move, internally and across boarders, as theyseek livelihoods away from stressed areas.
More perceived threats to security as a result of these movements.
Four interconnected processes, which have come to be associated withglobalization, will affect the course of disasters and humanitarianaction:
The happenstance of globalization:information technology, trade, travel,and culture are creating a world which,left to its own devices, will accentuateextremes of wealth and poverty, rightsand oppression, health and disease.Humanitarianism has the potential tobe an important, albeit localized,counteraction to this process.
The tacit assumption amongst rich and economically powerfulnations that a mix of representative government, free marketeconomies, and reformed state structures is the norm for thefuture. As state apparatus shrink in the social welfare fields— education, healthcare, pension support—they grow in the securityfields, meaning more militarization of societies and stronger policeand judicial apparatus. As well as speaking to the politics of aid,this also speaks to the economics: how is humanitarian actionfunded—from the state, from the public, or as a profit line?
Partly as a rebuttal of this, but also because of the space that theabove changes have created, there is a growing assertion of alternative ethnic- and religious-based values and forms of