By George Black
By the end of the first day, it's already become an ingrained reflex: brace for impact as yet another suicidal rickshaw, luridly painted with pictures of birds, animals, and Bollywood stars, swerves suddenly into our path. Our driver bangs on the horn, shimmies to the right, avoids an onrushing bus by a matter of inches, then calmly resumes his navigation of the demented streets of
"No problem," I say, feigning nonchalance. "Piece of cake."
"Piece of cake?"
"It's slang. Something really easy, no sweat. Like not killing that rickshaw-wallah. How do you say that in Bangla?"
"Panir moto shohoj," he answers. "Easy like water."
Easy like water. This is ironic, to say the least, because water, from the rivers, from the ocean, from the ground, is this country's existential curse.
The long-range apocalypse facing the country is global warming and the accelerating sea-level rise that will accompany it. Think of the computer-generated image midway through Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth, which shows an inexorable blue wave engulfing a great swath of coastal
It all begins with topography. In his novel The Hungry Tide, Amitav Ghosh, who grew up in
However, try asking the millions of people in the Ganges Delta if they have too much water -- at least of the kind they can use. Over the last few centuries, the natural course of the sacred river has shifted eastward, redirecting the surge of freshwater that used to dilute the salt inflow from the
It gets worse. There's also the scourge that comes from the other direction, from the
Simply put, no country in the world will face greater devastation from global warming, and nowhere will the potential political fallout be harder to manage. Millions of people will be permanently displaced, made into environmental refugees. The great majority of them will be destitute Muslims, and in that regard it's hard not to recall a videotaped message from Osama bin Laden in late 2007, in which he added global warming to the list of plagues that Western countries have inflicted on the Islamic world. Put all this together and, without being alarmist, you can't help but wonder if all these dots may not, over time, begin to join up.
So how bad will it be? How quickly will it happen? And what can we do to stop it? On my second morning in
The air-conditioned offices, where rows of scholarly heads are bent over computer keyboards, offer some relief from the heat and turmoil of the
Alam says he always prefers to err on the side of caution. Climate modelling remains an imprecise science, and some of the projections may be overstated. The government's chief adviser, the prime minister in all but name, has talked of 25 million environmental refugees. That's probably an exaggeration, Alam thinks.
As for the disappearing land, "It's hard to say. Personally I'm not in favour of the language of 'permanent loss.' The hydrological dynamics of this country are very complex, and it hasn't been easy in the past for the models to incorporate things like local rainfall patterns and the infrastructure that's already in place to protect against floods."
We look at a wall map together, tracing a route through the vulnerable coastal regions that I'm planning to visit.
"But the bottom line?" I insist. "The most conservative estimate of how much of
He thinks about it. "Well, at the moment the sea level is rising at about three millimetres a year" -- a little more than one-tenth of an inch -- "but that's going to get worse. The current projections deal with three grades of sea-level rise -- 30 centimetres, 75 centimetres, one meter." He pauses. "Under the most benign of these three scenarios, there's going to be a permanent loss of 12 percent to 15 percent of our surface area, with a present population of five million to seven million." (The United Nations, it's worth noting, projects that by 2015 the country's population will grow by almost a quarter. So make that upper number closer to nine million.)
And that's the most benign scenario.
The village sits on a precarious promontory only a few feet above mean tide level, at the gateway to the Sundarbans forest. (There is some disagreement about the origin of the name, but most people think it means the forest of sundri trees -- the predominant species, which yields valuable red-coloured timber, much favored for building fishing boats.) Some 3.5 million people live on the fringes of the Sundarbans, which straddle the India-Bangladesh border and form the largest contiguous expanse of mangroves in the world, covering more than 2,300 square miles.
For those who live in villages like Chandpai, the impenetrable mass of vegetation acts as a vital buffer against the fury of the cyclones that gather their strength from the
The forest floor is three to six feet above sea level, and the tide inundates it twice a day. With a sea-level rise of 45 centimetres -- about 18 inches, which is at the conservative end of the most recent projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- three-quarters of the Sundarbans would be permanently lost. Sixty-seven centimetres (about 26 inches) and the entire forest is gone, obliterating not only that precious defence against cyclones but also one of the richest natural gene pools in the world. The Sundarbans are home to 334 species of plants, 186 birds, 53 reptiles, 222 different finfish, and 100 shellfish. The rarest creatures of all are the gigantic and endangered estuarine crocodile, of which no more than 200 survive, and the
Long before dawn I'm awakened by the grating clank of our anchor chain being raised. I roll over in my cramped bunk, lift the flap of the mosquito net, and squint at the illuminated dial of my alarm clock: 4:15. On the shore, half a mile away, Chandpai is beginning to stir; the first lights are already on, accompanied by the soft putt putt of a generator. Then the Bonbibi's engine kicks into life, coughing once or twice before settling into a loud, steady throb.
The little motor launch chugs slowly down the
A 20-foot crocodile, brutally armoured, sunbathes on a mud-bank. A troop of rhesus monkeys cavorts along a narrow beach. Spotted deer and wild boar browse in the shadows. At the junction of two larger rivers, a pod of rare Gangetic dolphins breaks surface. Several species of kingfisher -- blue-eared, black-capped, brown-winged, white-collared -- make sudden flashes of colour in the lower branches of the mangroves. Gigantic, endangered adjutant storks prowl the shoreline on their spindly legs. Brahmini kites and sea eagles glide overhead. No tigers -- though later, near the remote forest post of Kotka, we will hike along an unnerving forest trail and see paw prints, dried-up scat, and deep claw marks in a tree, six feet above the ground.
The Bonbibi is named for the goddess of the Sundarbans, who is believed to control the tiger's movements. In certain villages on the edge of the forest, Bonbibi is depicted as a Hindu goddess wearing a green or blue sari and seated on a howling tiger, her countenance peaceful and serene. Next to her, her brother, Shajangali, carries a club to drive away the tiger. He is dressed, in one scholar's description, "like a member of the Muslim gentry." This intermingling of religious traditions is typical of
Many of those who venture into the forest to make their tenuous living -- the fishermen, woodcutters, and honey collectors -- will conduct elaborate rituals before they leave home, imploring Bonbibi to protect them. Anthropologists have documented ceremonies in which a variety of ritual objects are gathered and offered to the goddess -- conch-shell bangles, vermilion, scraps of red cloth, green coconuts, earthen pots, sweetmeats, hemp, incense. In the Indian section of the Sundarbans, there was a brief experiment in which forest workers tried wearing a mask on the back of the head -- the idea being to confuse the tiger, which likes to attack from behind. There is no evidence that this, or the prayers to Bonbibi, or any other protective measures, have made any difference.
Official reports say that several dozen people fall victim to the tigers each year. But many more deaths go unreported. The honey collectors, the mowalis, are especially vulnerable. They come here for two months each year, in April and May, pursuing the rock bees that swarm south from the Himalayas in search of the nectar-bearing flowers of the holly mangrove (Acanthus ilicifolius) and the river mangrove (Aegiceras corniculata). Once the mowalis have paid the forest service for their permits and given the forest guards and government officials their cut, each man may bring back 200 pounds or more of honey. That will fetch about 5,000 takas, or close to $75, for two months of unthinkably dangerous work. (The annual per capita income in
The mowalis, their fellow villagers, and the forest guards all agree that the tigers have become more aggressive of late, more willing to enter human settlements in search of prey. Though there's no hard data to confirm this yet, they also agree on the reason -- the steady degradation of the tiger's habitat, made worse by Cyclone Sidr, which hit this part of
A few miles from Chandpai, a small boat pulls over next to the Bonbibi. The boatman tosses a rope across the gap and ties up. It's a surprise to see another Western face on board, one of only a handful we've seen in this unvisited country. He introduces himself as Adam Barlow, an English-born tiger expert from the
"What's their usual way of dealing with the problem?" I ask.
He answers, "Normally they put out bait for the tiger. Then, when they've lured it into the village, they gather by the hundreds and arm themselves with sticks. Then they beat the tiger to death."
The captain of the Bonbibi puts us ashore at Sarankhola, a village on the north-eastern edge of the Sundarbans. There's been tiger trouble here, too: a 15-year-old boy from the adjoining
As we walk along a narrow, elevated path -- a shoelace of doughy, yielding grey mud raised eight or ten feet above parallel rows of fishponds -- people tell me a story that could be repeated with little variation in hundreds of other villages. They grow two rice crops a year, a few vegetables. They fish for depleted stocks. They venture into the forest to cut timber and firewood. They're still catching their breath from Sidr.
The early-warning system worked reasonably well, says a middle-aged man who is old enough to remember the catastrophes of 1970 and 1991. That's why fewer than 4,000 died this time (although more than 150,000 were injured and a million tons of rice were lost). From the radio, the villagers knew the cyclone was coming a full two days before it made landfall. A three-tier system of red flags in the main population centres indicated the likely strength of the storm. Government officials and the villagers themselves then spread the word more widely via handheld bullhorns and bicycle-mounted loudspeakers. Right up to the last minute, however, no one knew exactly where the storm would hit. As it happened, the villages around Sarankhola and Khuriakhali took the brunt of it.
Sidr came suddenly, at 10:30 on the night of November 15. Most of the old people, the women, the children made it to the cyclone shelters, raised 10 feet above the ground on concrete pillars. But 14 people in Khuriakhali failed to reach safety, the man tells me as we continue our walk along the raised path. These unlucky ones were trapped in their homes, reluctant to abandon their meagre possessions, or swept away and drowned by the fast-rising water. "It came up to here," the man says, indicating his collarbone. The winds reached 135 miles per hour.
Three months later, these villages remain half-crippled by the aftermath of the storm. Scores of palm trees are still down, splayed like pick-up sticks across fishponds and graveyards. It takes me a moment to realize that the skeletal piles of kindling submerged in the small tidal channels used to be fishing boats. Though the floodwaters drained off quickly, many of the fields are still tainted by salt. The rice and vegetable crops are coming in, but the yield is way down. All the sources of drinking water are brackish, adds a younger man in a blue lungi, the wraparound, calf-length skirt that most Bangladeshi men wear in preference to trousers.
The conversation turns to the weather more generally, and the villagers talk not only of the magnitude of the changes, but of their strangeness. At nine in the morning, we were shivering on the foredeck of the Bonbibi, wrapped in sweaters and jackets against the surprising chill. Winter -- the dry season -- has lasted a month longer than usual this year, punctuated by sudden freak downpours. The people here are plagued by familiar ailments -- headaches, vomiting, diarrhoea, fatigue, the raging fevers and bone-numbing chills of malaria. But these afflictions are coming at unaccustomed times of the year.
The one thing that these villages have going for them, however, is that a good-size freshwater river, the Bhola, is of some help in keeping the worst of the salt at bay. If we want to see the full extent of the saline drama, we'll need to travel a little farther south and west. In particular, says Khushi Kabir, the longtime head of Nijera Kori ("Doing It Ourselves"), one of the country's most influential nongovernmental organizations, we should look at the shrimp farms. The suggestion is of more than passing interest, since the shrimp at the seafood counter of your local supermarket is quite likely to have begun life in these salty fields.
At Mongla, a scruffy river port with a harbour full of rusted freighters, we exchange the modest comforts of the Bonbibi for an aged blue Land Rover with no air-conditioning and not much in the way of suspension.
Drive through almost any country in the world and there will be intervals of respite from the press of population. A forest, a range of hills or mountains, a stretch of rock and desert. Not so in the area of
Rickshaws, bicycles, motorbikes, and motorized trishaws engage meanwhile in their own Nascar-style adventures. Overloaded flatbed bicycle carts are heaped high with firewood, 20-foot culms of bamboo, sacks of rice, cooking pots, hay bales, teetering pyramids of cooking oil tins, people. Right in front of us, the imbalance of weight is just too much for one small cart, which abruptly tips over, catapulting the driver backward into the air like a circus performer shot from a cannon and sending his 10 passengers, including a frail-looking elderly woman, sprawling onto the highway and into the oncoming traffic. Our driver hits the brakes. The old woman picks herself up, dusts herself off, and starts all over again, reattaching herself to the mass of humanity and livestock that wanders randomly across the blacktop: scrawny goats, undernourished cattle, chicken, geese, dogs, children, old men with white beards hobbling along on canes, day labourers in their lungis, women in rainbow saris. The farther south we go, the more the saris give way to the black burkas of conservative Islam.
As we enter the bustling little town of
"What was that all about?" I ask Benedict Poresh Sardar, who works with Uttaran, the most important of the NGOs active in this area.
"He said if you give money to the madrasa, you will go straight to heaven," Poresh replies.
A few hundred yards later, another loudspeaker blasts invitations to an Islamic gathering. A crowd of teenage boys blocks the roadway, collecting funds for their school.
"The madrasa is a religious school that teaches boys only," Poresh complains. "There are many more of these schools than before, more all the time. The main thing they do there is read and memorize the Koran. In Arabic. The government encourages them to teach modern and general education too. But..." He frowns, then shrugs. I file away the thought for later.
English words have begun to crop up among the ornate Bengali characters on the roadside signboards: Prawn Hatchery, Gold Coin Aquaculture. Large-scale shrimp farming took off here in the 1980s in an effort to boost exports. By 2010, the Bangladeshi government hopes, it will bring in $1.5 billion a year.
The industry has transformed the life of villages like Burigoalini, which lies at the end of the road we're following-one of the last habitations on the north-western fringe of the Sundarbans forest. Burigoalini is an old name, referring to a local woman who once had pastures here for milk cows, paddies for rice, and thriving fishponds. That kind of diversified farm economy no longer holds up around here. Instead, the landscape is dominated by a vast patchwork of flat water broken up by earthen embankments. Shrimp farms, as far as the eye can see. A modest number of people have made a good living from the industry, but many more have been left destitute. This is not a labour-intensive business.
"How do the big shrimp companies get hold of all this farmland?" I ask Poresh.
"They start by leasing it," he says. "Fifteen or twenty thousand takas -- $220 to $300 -- for a two-year lease on one biga of land [about half an acre]. Then they renew. Sometimes the industry brings in musclemen, backed by the two big political parties, so the poor farmers aren't given a choice."
"Meaning they use violence?" I ask.
He nods. "When they find it necessary."
We've reached the neighbouring settlement of Tatinakhali now, leapfrogging our way across gaping holes in the raised mud path. We've been joined by Alok Kumar Halder, one of Uttaran's local representatives. He's a large, heavyset man, half as big again as most Bangladeshis. He wears a lime-green polo shirt with an Oxfam logo.
The shrimp farms depend on a steady supply of brackish water from the river, Alok tells me, pointing to the sluice gates that regulate the flow into the big, rectangular ponds. On the far side of the river,
100 yards away, the solid wall of forest begins. Tiger country.
The problem is, all that sodium from the river also seeps into the surrounding farmland, diminishing its fertility as well as the availability of grass for cattle grazing. The domestic food supply is being sacrificed on the altar of export earnings. The salinity of the soil in the
Uttaran has the broadest of agendas, working with the poorest communities of farmers, fishermen, woodcutters, and mowalis on matters as diverse as safe drinking water, access to land, legal aid, divorce, and domestic violence. The last of these is rampant, and like most of
"When your husband does that, is there any remedy?" I ask Shajida, a charismatic woman in a purple sari who is one of the community's leaders. A neighbour’s three small children linger shyly in the doorway behind her. Their father was eaten by a
Shajida offers the faintest of smiles. "Crying," she says.
"Is there anything you can do that will make your family's life easier?" I ask, anxious to change the subject.
She gestures at a small pond fenced off with reed matting. She's trying to raise crabs where rice used to grow.
"We're emphasizing that kind of adaptation," Shahidul Islam, Uttaran's founder and director, tells me later in
I ask him what exactly he means by adaptation.
"Turning to fisheries in waterlogged areas," he replies. "Crab farming. Growing crops on the dikes. Floating vegetable gardens-some people call it hydroponics. Planting saline-tolerant rice, saline-tolerant reeds. Better house construction -- even the poor people are trying to build cyclone-proof houses with concrete pillars and concrete lintels." Some people take advantage of the micro-credit loans for which
Development experts call such behaviour the economy of resilience, and Bangladeshis are nothing if not resilient. But the stark fact remains: with the creep of salt, life here is steadily becoming untenable.
I stand with a cluster of men and women from Tatinakhali, staring out over the monotony of the shrimp ponds. "So are people leaving?" I ask them.
"Ten percent want to stay, but 90 percent would leave if they could," a middle-aged man answers. The young people above all dream of city life, he says, of getting an education. But they have neither the money nor the connections to make it happen. The older ones are too attached to the land and the way of life. Building a home and a fishpond, a yard to dry and winnow rice, a patch of cultivable field, is a 20-year investment of time and labour that is hard to relinquish. When it happens, family migration, first seasonal and then permanent, follows a familiar pattern that is repeated across the world: the breadwinner leaves for a local town, then moves by stages to the city; having established a tenuous means of subsistence, he calls for the family to join him. But since the tiger attacks got worse, whole families are beginning to leave together.
"Where will they all go?" I want to know.
Islam takes off his glasses and rubs his eyes. "I don't know," he says. "I just don't know. What I do know is that
In any given country, the capital city is the customary magnet for desperate migrants running from rural poverty. But this capital?
Over a cup of nasty instant coffee (the only kind you can get in Bangladesh -- no Starbucks here), I sit and talk with Professor Haroon ur Rashid, chairman of the architecture department at Dhaka's North South University and an expert on urban planning and sanitation. He's a small, owlish man with a pungent sense of gallows humour. His English is impeccable.
"The Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen grew up in
The capital of
Uncountable beggars -- street children, bird-thin old women, blind men, people with nightmarish deformities -- tap on the car windows at every stop. And there are many more stops than starts. With virtually no functioning traffic lights, the streets are an impossible gridlocked snarl, loud with the clamour of car horns and rickshaw bells. (
"In 1953, when it was the capital of East Pakistan, the population of
"And now, on top of all that, there's climate change," I say with a frown. "Is the government thinking about that as it tries to predict how many more rural migrants are going to come to the city in the next 10, 20, 50 years?"
He just looks at me, as if I've asked a very stupid question, then says, "I doubt it."
But if Shahidul Islam is right, and
No one has ever quite known what to do about environmental refugees. Norman Myers, an
For Bangladeshis, one traditional place of refuge has been
The fence idea has been around for years, but it's taken on new impetus in the last two or three. The reason:
All of which brings us back to Osama bin Laden, and thence to a second safety hatch that has beckoned to Bangladeshis desperate to flee environmental degradation in the rural areas and urban collapse in the capital. I'd seen graphic evidence of this on my way to Dhaka, when I changed planes in the oil-rich emirate of
It's estimated that two million Bangladeshis are now employed in menial jobs in
It's also a world that is antithetical to Islam as it has historically been practiced in
As I travel through
"Islam is very peaceful religion," the imam insists. "Holy Koran says all people created equal, no difference. Ladies and gentlemen, different prayers, but also same, equal. Islam always speaking truthful, no bad work."
I ask him about Cyclone Sidr and global warming. "Is very difficult for us," he answers. "People come here to mosque to be shelter." He waves a hand at the huge palm trees lying horizontal across a brick wall, still there three months after the catastrophe.
"What do you think is responsible for all these changes in the climate?" I ask.
"We see the will of Allah," he replies. "We see as da'wa" -- a call to follow Islam.
"Is it just an act of God, then?" I ask. "Because some people think the rich countries are also to blame. Do you believe that?"
He purses his lips, thinks about it, then looks me straight in the eye and says softly, "Yes."
A group of women in burkas stands at a distance, curious about our conversation.
Those who work with the poor in southern
"A lot of money is also coming in from
Khushi Kabir, the director of Nijera Kori, has no particular religious affiliations but shares these anxieties. She is willing to talk more freely about them, perhaps feeling that living in
"You have to understand," she says, "that this isn't so much a Muslim culture as a Bengali culture. At the village level, Muslims and Hindus live together quite harmoniously. But what's being imposed now is an Islamic identity. It's a global thing, this move to create a big Muslim brotherhood." Her lip curls with disdain. "I just hope they don't go for a Muslim sisterhood. I want nothing to do with that."
There's a further twist to the story, she adds, a perverse side effect of the well-intentioned involvement of outside agencies. "For example, the World Bank and UNDP" -- meaning the United Nations Development Program -- "have this model that they've developed in other Muslim countries like
I ask her how this manifests itself in everyday life.
"There always used to be a lot of cultural activities in the villages where the lines between Muslim and Hindu were very blurred," she answers. "The jatra, for example, which was a stylized theatre performance by travelling troupes of actors, based on local history and folklore. Or the Gazi-Kalu, where you could debate any issue you liked through songs and poetry. But now all I see are the waaz -- the Muslim prayer gatherings and sermons."
Until recently, the environment and climate change have not played a big role in Islamic theology. That, too, is beginning to change. Fazlun Khalid, director of the Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences in
The religious scholar Mawil Izzi Dien, who was educated in
Sentiment on these issues has begun to stir internationally, for example in the Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC), a group of 57 Muslim states. "The OIC has recently started doing more work in the area of climate change," Saleemul Huq, a Bangladeshi who was one of the lead authors of the Fourth IPCC Assessment Report, tells me when I call him at his London office. "And certainly the inequities of climate change are going to feed generally anti-Western feelings in the Islamic world."
"Most people still think the cyclones and sea-level rise are an act of God," says Mozaharul Alam, the climate expert at the Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies. "But as the topic gets incorporated into the educational system, awareness grows. When people realize that they're not an act of God but the act of someone else, well... it's unpredictable how they will react."
In Dhaka's Zia International Airport, waiting for the Emirates flight that will take me home, I'm startled by the realization that everyone else in the waiting area -- every single person -- is a young Bangladeshi male, all of them bound, like me, for Dubai. I wonder how many of them have been driven from their villages by floods, by cyclones, by the salinity of the soil; how many of them have found the overcrowded, polluted chaos of
I'm reminded of something that Haroon
Then he paused and modified the thought. "But of course that could change quickly, because this is a worldwide trend. And all you need is a few people to disrupt things. As Che Guevara once said: give me 11 good people and I can overthrow a government." The line may be apocryphal, but it kept playing in my head.
It's easy to sink into despair here, but Bangladeshis, despite being battered by centuries of natural and man-made disasters, seem the least despairing, the most resilient, of people.
"We Bengalis are a poetical people," Rashid told me. "As we say here, it's hope that keeps us alive. If we lose our hope, we might as well not live."
But what about the rest of us? Because the actions of the outside world are going to be critical in determining whether
Well, says Alam, "the first thing is to build sufficient infrastructure to protect us in the future. Better embankments, wider canals, sluice gates."
"Which will cost a fortune," I suggest.
He smiles wryly and nods. "Yes, I know. And it probably won't be enough anyway. And if it's not enough, then the estuaries will move inland and the whole area will become one big tidal floodplain."
And if India, the United States, the world, begin to look at Bangladesh as a geopolitical Rorschach test, and see in the inkblot only the shape of radical Islam? Just last year, pointing to desertification in sub-Saharan Africa and sea-level rise in Bangladesh and other coastal areas in Asia and the Pacific, a group of 11 retired U.S. generals and admirals described global warming as a "threat multiplier" and warned that "the chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide, and terrorism."
"True," Alam says, "that may happen. Although it isn't necessarily a bad thing. If there's a security response, you can use that to draw attention to the severity of the problem and so increase the pressure to restrict greenhouse gas emissions."
All of which will require concerted international action on a scale we've never seen before. The current machinery of the United Nations won't remotely be enough to deal with the kind of complex humanitarian emergencies that will be forced on us by global warming, says Sir Crispin Tickell, a former British ambassador to the U.N., when I meet him for lunch at his office at
These are big thoughts -- utopian, a sceptic might say -- and Bangladeshis think mainly of tomorrow. Will there be enough rice? Enough clean drinking water? Will the tiger get me? All of us have the same human tendency to plan for the next day, next week, next year. Projecting political developments 10, 20, 50 years into the future is a chancy business, as imprecise a science in its way as the modelling of climate change. But those are undoubtedly the terms, and the timescales, on which we now have to think.
May 28, 2008
Source: onearth.org Summer 2008, an independent publication of the natural resources defence council.
Pavan Nair wrote on July 22, 2008, 10:51PM :
There is a large population of Hindus living in the Sunderbans area of
jo wrote on July 20, 2008, 05:27PM :
The article's author, George Black, mentions research being done on rice that can grow in higher salinity areas--India has had such rice for decades, after their canals began salinating the land.
he also refers to "money...coming in from
Yuman wrote on July 02, 2008, 01:06PM :
I have to wonder if some people reading ‘The Gathering Storm’ may be missing the real threat pointed to in the article? As pointed out in the text the radical Muslim is making great headway into the Muslim world and is properly applying its resources by brain washing the worlds’ poor. This is what I see as the storm warning in the article – CHANGE YOUR WAY OR GET OUT OF THE WAY! It won’t be a political solution as much as a radical religious solution that brings down the western view of use of the planet.
Having grown up with the ‘threat of communism’ I seem to see the same thing taking place again; but with a most powerful difference, GOD! Communism could not truly win the peasant with its denial of the peasants God, but the radical Muslim has a much better equation!