Circumcision on Decline in Africa Due to Global Warming

November 2nd, 2007 8:55 PM

Maybe the finest example of Global Warming Derangement Syndrome to date is the claim by an Australian mammologist and paleontologist that climate change has reduced circumcision rates in Africa.

I kid you not.

Aside from his other lofty credentials, Tim Flannery is also a global warming activist, or did you guess that from the introduction?

Regardless, in his new book, "An Explorer's Notebook," Flannery, according to the excerpt published by Australia's The Age, should be rushed to the nearest sanitarium for emergency GWDS treatment (emphasis added for your entertainment pleasure):

I left Europe to return home via Africa. A mate had started an ecotourism venture in Kenya and had asked me to come along on a 14-day safari. I agreed, both because I wanted to help him with his conservation effort and because I was keen to talk to the people living in northern Kenya, a land afflicted by drought. We saw lion, giraffe, elephant and rarer creatures such as Grevy's zebra, which I was particularly taken with. It is the largest and most elegantly striped of all zebras, and is a kind of living fossil whose lineage goes back about 3 million years. A few years ago there were about 5000, but today only 2000 survive, in part because of east Africa's chronic low rainfall - a result of climate change.

At the remote camp of Sarara, north of Nairobi, I asked village elders about the drought. This is the homeland of the Samburu people, traditional cattle grazers who have developed an intricate system of subsistence. There was an air of despair about these dignified old men as they explained that the weather patterns and signs of rain are now so altered that their long experience is no longer useful in advising the youth where to lead the cattle. Apparently American food aid is all that's keeping many in the region from starvation.

That evening I learnt of a most remarkable consequence of the drought. The Samburu circumcise their youths in grand ceremonies, which are held every seven years or so, when enough cattle and other foods have accumulated to support such celebrations. Circumcision represents a transition to manhood, and until a youth has passed it he can't marry. But it's been 14 years since a circumcision ceremony has been held here. There are now 40,000 uncircumcised young men, some in their late 20s, waiting their turn. All of the eligible young women, tired of waiting, have married older men (multiple wives are allowed), so there are no wives for the new initiates.

I could never have imagined that climate change would have such an effect on an entire society.

Honestly, folks, there's no way you can make this stuff up!