What does climate change mean, how do people define global warming? Do we think of melting ice caps in terms of rising ocean levels, threatened animal habitats, violent unpredictable weather? Do we think about it at all? Are we confused by anti warming propaganda, suspicious of scientific proof? How many ponder a connection between climate change and the Taliban?
Founded in 1994 by Mohammed Omar, iron fist Taliban fundamentalism seized control of Afghanistan in 1996. Brutal Taliban justice, horrific oppression of women, terrorist agendas, outraged the global community long before 9/11. One of the first Taliban edicts – eradicate all opium poppy fields as an offense to Islam. From 1996 to the American ousting of Taliban rule in 2001, Afghan farmers who once supplied of 60% of world heroin, grew wheat crops.
Unfortunately 2001 coincided with a period of unprecedented drought in Afghanistan. Devastated farmers had families to feed – the Taliban needed money, soldiers and safe havens. Fragmented Taliban forces came up with a solution. In exchange for “taxes”, recruits and absolute indifference to caching weapons or hiding insurgents, they would protect impoverished farmers choice of crops. Opium poppies thrive on 1/6th the water of wheat. Drought resistant poppies sustained a population whose only choice became Taliban loyalty or starvation.
Far from suggesting Afghanistan’s untimely drought was a direct result of climate change – it’s worth considering implications beyond rising sea levels. Religious fundamentalists outlawed opium poppies when rain fell, weaponized poppies by allowing starving farmers to plant them in exchange for loyalty.
Ponder climate change as a weapon. Consider ramifications of weaponizing crops We can ignore mind numbing climate change rhetoric, or wrap our heads around drought and Taliban support.