Drought in Kenya

The NYT’s Jeffrey Gettleman reports on drought conditions in Kenya:

So much of his green pasture land has turned to dust. His once mighty herd of goats, sheep and camels have died of thirst. He says his 3-year-old son recently died of hunger. And Mr. Lolua does not look to be far from death himself.

“If nobody comes to help us, I will die here, right here,” he said, emphatically patting the earth with a cracked, ancient-looking hand.

The same climate change that’s causing a surge in wildfires in California is also going to give us more droughts, more crop failures, and more famines. Human societies have, over the years, located their farms and population centers based on certain expectations about rainfall patterns. Upsetting those patterns upsets all those human arrangements and leads to starvation and death. Alternatively, as people try to relocate themselves to more viable land we’ll have war and death (and probably starvation too).


The World Food Program says there are four million Kenyans in need of assistance. That’ll cost $576 million but less than half the required amount has been raised. This is the sort of thing that makes it hard for me to take seriously the neoconnish mindset that’s extremely interested in international humanitarian issues if and only if humanitarian problems can allegedly be ameliorated by bombing someone or deploying American troops somewhere. The total bill for saving millions of people from starvation would be tiny compared to any military adventure. And yet the folks eager to wave the banner of “idealism” on behalf of launching wars are going to be nowhere to be found on this issue.