On July 18, 2007, BBC published an article titled Water find ‘may end Darfur war’. Though the article actually talks about finding an underground lake that can be tapped to provide drinking and irrigation water, there are several important concepts discussed in the article that are part of my motive for action on atomic energy.
According to the BBC, “Analysts say competition for resources between Darfur’s Arab nomads and black African farmers is behind the conflict.”. That simple phrase “competition for resources” is found as the root cause for many of humanities deep seated conflicts and animosities. It helps to explain why there are areas where people with ethnic or cultural divisions can live in harmony while there are others where those divisions erupt in violence. As I read history, the difference is that people who are in lands where there is great abundance find ways to avoid violent solutions to their problems.
One of the great potentials provided by expanded use of atomic fuels is the possibility of providing so much energy that people will have to think of creative ways to put it to use. Instead of worrying about conservation, engineers and builders will put together systems that turn salty or dirty water into clean drinking water. Instead of figuring out ways to bury worn out finished products that are no longer useful, other groups of engineers will use proven techniques of applying energy to entropy to create new order and new uses from the raw materials that were originally used to create those finished products.
Here is another comment from that story that can illuminate our thinking: “He also said that it has long been known there was water in the area but the government had not paid for it to be exploited.” A critical thinker would wonder, why hasn’t this resource been developed if there was knowledge that it was there.
The explanation that the government had not paid for it to be exploited is not the point I am trying to make – drilling for water is conventional technology that needs no government intervention. There are other ways to obtain money to drill for water; why haven’t those been applied already? One of the common threads running through stories of conflict is that there are often resources that could ease the tensions that are not exploited – often there are numerous reasons. Two that I have found repeatedly are:
- Leaders who believe that conflict is beneficial to their goals
- Followers that are kept in ignorance of the potential solution
- Outsiders that seek treatment instead of cures
In the case of Darfur, outsiders have been bringing in food aid at great expense while money for water exploration would be easier to transport and provide a much longer term solution by enabling local farmers to grow more food. Certain leaders have exploited the thirsty populations to help build up their own power by convincing them that armed conflict is required to regain their precious, falsely scarce resources.
In the case of energy, many of us have known for years that there is a massive resource of heavy metals just waiting to be exploited. Many with the power and ability to make that happen have benefitted by slowing the development since scarcity helps make their own products more valuable and provides sufficient motivation to encourage people to battle over resources perceived to be vital but scarce.
One final thought more specifically tied back to Darfur. According to the article, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said climate change was partly to blame for the conflict in Darfur in an editorial for US newspaper The Washington Post in June. . If that is true it should be one more reason for liberal minded people who care deeply about the rest of the people in the world to begin learning all they can about emission free energy production.
It is not enough to be someone who conserves – you need to be aggressive about learning just how much coal, oil and gas are burned every day to provide the energy that you use directly and the energy required to supply all of the other goods and services that you use. There are fairly simple ways to estimate just how much CO2 is released from all of that combustion and compare it to what would be released if more and more of your energy was produced by atomic fission. (Of course, I am once again preaching to the choir of people willing to read Atomic Insights, but you all have friends and relatives that can be introduced to the concepts.)