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Somalia’s Problem Isn’t Climate Change, It’s the Climate Agenda

Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, recently appeared on NPR’s “News Hour” to discuss the looming catastrophe in Somalia and call for more aid to the troubled east African nation. In her interview, she repeatedly cited climate change as the reason for Somalia’s current predicament.

Framing problems, whether they occur in Syria, Somalia, or California, as primarily the result of “climate change” is inaccurate and unhelpful. The drought in the Horn of Africa is indeed severe, so bad, in fact, that NPR reports it as “the worst drought in 40 years.”

So what about 40 years ago? If the multiyear drought gripping the Horn of Africa in the 1980s was worse than the one we’re seeing today, what changed? It wasn’t the climate.

What’s really happened in Somalia over the past 40 years is, in almost every imaginable aspect, evidence of how the international community’s foreign aid agenda has failed. Food insecurity in Somalia and elsewhere is exacerbated by aid policies that ignore the root causes and propose unsustainable solutions. Today, the trajectory of policies proposed by globalists in the name of combating “climate change” are going to make the problems facing nations like Somalia much worse.

To begin with, the primary cause of Somalia’s current difficulties is a population that has grown beyond the capacity of a primitive agricultural economy to sustain. In 1950, Somalia’s population was only 2.2 million. By 1983, 40 years ago, it had nearly tripled to 6.1 million. Without investment in infrastructure and adoption of modern agriculture, Somalia was already overpopulated. The nation already lacked the ability to withstand a drought. But the drought and famine in the early 1980s was just the beginning of Somalia’s imbalance between its internal capacity and demand for food.

Today Somalia has a population of 18.1 million, triple the number of people living there in 1983. There is no end in sight. In 1983, the total births per woman in Somalia was 7.3, unchanged from 1960. By 2020 that rate had only dropped slightly. Women of child-bearing age in Somalia on average are still having 6.4 children. Their population is increasing at a rate of more than 3 percent per year. This means their population will double to 36 million people by 2045, just 22 years from now.

If Somalia were possessed of a vibrant and growing economy, modern infrastructure, and a robust agricultural sector, one might applaud their fecundity. After all, prosperity, as we have seen throughout the world, tends to correlate almost perfectly with population decline. But nothing of the sort has happened in Somalia. It is a failed state, utterly dependent on foreign aid.

Ever since African nations gained independence in the 1960s, the policies of mostly Western nations have centered around shoveling billions of dollars in food aid and medical aid, with the utterly unsustainable result being exploding populations in societies that don’t evolve and advance internally because they don’t have to.

To put this failure into stark economic terms, Somalia’s GDP in 2020 was $6.9 billion. On that base, their exports totaled a paltry $276 million, while they imported $4.2 billion. Somalia’s trade deficit is nearly 60 percent of their GDP. They are a welfare nation, living on a welfare continent.

When Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield elaborated on the crisis in Somalia, one of her first observations was how the war in Ukraine, a world breadbasket, was reducing the flow of food aid. But while welfare in the form of food aid may be necessary and justified in the present crisis to avert mass starvation, in the long run it is the addiction that kills the patient.

Even now, Somalia could produce all the food it needs internally and withstand droughts. The nation has two rivers running out of the highlands of Ethiopia that could irrigate vast areas of fertile land in Somalia’s southwest. The Juba River, at its point of entry into Somalia, has an average annual flow of 4.5 million acre-feet per year while the Shabelle River averages another 1.9 million acre-feet per year. According to the World Bank, Somalia has an estimated 3.5 million acres of arable land. To feed 18 million people, this is plenty of water and plenty of land.

An expert on the potential of Somali agriculture is Dr. Hussein Haji, founder of the Somali Agricultural Technical Group (SATG). In a lecture posted on the SATG website, Haji identifies Somalia’s perennial water sources for irrigation, its ample farmable land, and its year-round growing season. Haji also points out that crop yields per unit of area in Somalia are one-tenth that of modern farms. Haji goes on to note the potential of Somalia’s coastal fisheries and abundant grazing land.

Solving Somalia’s Challenges Requires
Rejecting Climate Change Ideology

Bringing Somalia, and the rest of Africa, into the 21st century is complicated. But what is not complicated is the fact that nothing on offer from the globalist climate change agenda is going to help. Somalia needs hydroelectric power and reservoirs to guarantee a drought-proof water supply. That will require dams, or at least off-stream reservoirs if the topography permits it. 

But dams and hydroelectric power are environmentally incorrect. Hence Somalis are denied water and food security.

Somalia also has abundant oil and gas reserves. They could drill and refine oil and gas to fuel their  growing industrial and transportation sector, generate electricity, produce fertilizer, and have plenty left over to export.

Successfully transitioning Somalia into a nation that is food independent even in drought years requires a combination of conventional infrastructure investment paired with evolved thinking on sustainable agriculture. Innovative grazing techniques could help restore arid landscapes in Somalia and elsewhere in Africa. Purchasing high-yield, but open-pollinated seeds, could ensure Somalia’s farmers can improve their productivity without becoming hooked on expensive so-called terminator seeds, which cannot be saved and used for next year’s crop.

A common thread that can inform what might otherwise seem an inconsistent approach is to recognize that behind strategies to supposedly combat the “climate crisis” is a cabal of Western corporate and financial elites who want to control the world. To do this, it is necessary to leave nations dependent on foreign aid and unable to survive without incurring huge trade deficits. This is the hidden agenda behind the supposed necessity to halt all investment in practical infrastructure and conventional energy in developing nations. 

If you want to control a people—whether it’s an emerging nation overseas or an aspiring inner-city community in America—control the food and control the money. In the bargain, your bureaucracies and your corporate allies will be the conduits through which power and profits will be harvested.

Americans and citizens of other Western nations are also victims of the globalist climate agenda. One must differentiate between the misanthropic actions of the plutocracy that has currently hijacked American politics, and the innate, magnanimous character of the American people: traditional values, know-how, optimism and bold dreams. 

If a political balance were restored between genuine environmentalist values and the need for practical infrastructure, Americans could preserve upward mobility and the middle class in their own nation at the same time as they made investments in nations like Somalia to enable them to achieve prosperity. Moreover, if American companies went to Somalia to build dams, aqueducts, power plants, an electricity grid, and drill for gas and oil, they could do it with the utmost possible respect for the environment.

If Somalia were to become a truly independent and prosperous nation, its population would stabilize, as has happened without exception throughout the developed world. This is perhaps the finest irony and most sinister consequence of the climate change agenda. If Africa’s population stays on course, and doubles to over 2 billion people by 2050, every time there is a drought or a disruption in food aid, hundreds of millions of Africans will strip the forests bare for fuel and slaughter the wild game for protein. They will live in societies so destabilized by poverty that the very last thing on their minds will be breathing clean air, drinking clean water, or protecting wilderness and wildlife. 

Environmentalism, in trying to solve the alleged climate crisis, is destroying the environment.

At its cynical roots, globalist diktats to combat the “climate crisis” are schemes to create dependency and debt in order to control the Global South. This is the real reason why Somalis are starving today. This is why, along with all their counterparts throughout Africa, they are migrating by the millions to prosperous Western nations. Western elites call them “climate refugees.” The precise opposite is true. They are refugees from nations held down and impoverished by the globalist climate agenda.

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About Edward Ring

Edward Ring is a senior fellow of the Center for American Greatness. He is also is a contributing editor and senior fellow with the California Policy Center, which he co-founded in 2013 and served as its first president. Ring is the author of Fixing California: Abundance, Pragmatism, Optimism (2021) and The Abundance Choice: Our Fight for More Water in California (2022).

Photo: EDUARDO SOTERAS/AFP via Getty Images

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