Friday, April 18, 2014

Will Climate Change provoke war?.... some are beginning to think and plan in that direction...

There have been gallons of "ink" spilled in a vain attempt to wake up government, corporate and academic and legal communities to the dangers of the threat of global warming and climate change.
There have been fewer gallons of 'ink' used in the campaign to generate optimism around the future in a world where the average temperature has risen between 2 and 4 degrees, and the ocean levels have risen some 2 to 10 feet, and the food production has either dropped or significantly changed from our current access and affordability to much less and at much higher prices.
Perhaps when a story emerges from a respected on line publication like Slate, that the Pentagon is already laying out plans for a potential war that could envisage no end, when both strategies and consequences that are extremely hard to imagine and grapple with, a war resulting from the conditions imposed by global warming and climate change, perhaps, just perhaps, the general public might start to become interested and invested in "our" very survival.
We include an excerpt of a piece from Slate here in our hopefully focused and impactful goal of arousing both interest in and concern for our collective, not to mention our individual and our family future.
The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has just completed a series of landmark reports that chronicle an update to the current state of consensus science on climate change. In a sentence, here’s what they found: On our current path, climate change could pose an irreversible, existential risk to civilization as we know it—but we can still fix it if we decide to work together.
But in addition to the call for cooperation, the reports also shared an alarming new trend: Climate change is already destabilizing nations and leading to wars.
That finding was highlighted in this week’s premiere of Showtime’s new star-studded climate change docu-drama Years of Living Dangerously. In the series’ first episode, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman traveled to Syria to investigate how a long-running drought has contributed to that conflict. Climate change has also been discussed as a “threat multiplier” for recent conflicts in Darfur, Tunisia, Egypt, and future conflicts, too.
Climate change worsens the divide between haves and have-nots, hitting the poor the hardest. It can also drive up food prices and spawn megadisasters, creating refugees and taxing the resiliency of governments.
When a threat like that comes along, it’s impossible to ignore. Especially if your job is national security.
In a recent interview with the blog Responding to Climate Change, retired Army Brig. Gen. Chris King laid out the military’s thinking on climate change:
“This is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years. That’s the scariest thing for us,” he told RTCC. “There is no exit strategy that is available for many of the problems. You can see in military history, when they don’t have fixed durations, that’s when you’re most likely to not win.”
In a similar vein, last month, retired Navy Rear Adm. David Titley co-wrote an op-ed for Fox News:
The parallels between the political decisions regarding climate change we have made and the decisions that led Europe to World War One are striking – and sobering. The decisions made in 1914 reflected political policies pursued for short-term gains and benefits, coupled with institutional hubris, and a failure to imagine and understand the risks or to learn from recent history. (By Eric Holthaus, "Climate Change War” Is Not a Metaphor, Slate, April 18, 2014)
If one is not, or cannot be aroused to re-consider his or her attitude to the dangers of continuing on the current course the world is taking, and to being to demand action from our political leaders partially from exposure to such thinking, and conversations, then what hope is there for us all?
Here is some more from the Slate interview with Navy Rear Adm. Titley:
Slate: What’s the worst-case scenario, in your view?
Titley: There will be a discrete event or series of events that will change the calculus. I don’t know who, I don’t know how violent. To quote Niels Bohr: Predictions are tough, especially about the future. When it comes, that will be a black swan. The question is then, do we change?
Let me give you a few examples of how that might play out. You could imagine a scenario in which both Russia and China have prolonged droughts. China decides to exert rights on foreign contracts and gets assertive in Africa. If you start getting instability in large powers with nuclear weapons, that’s not a good day.
Here’s another one: We basically do nothing on emissions. Sea level keeps rising, three to six feet by the end of the century. Then, you get a series of super-typhoons into Shanghai and millions of people die. Does the population there lose faith in Chinese government? Does China start to fissure? I’d prefer to deal with a rising, dominant China any day.
Slate: That sounds incredibly daunting. How could we head off a threat like that?
Titley: I like to think of climate action as a three-legged stool. There’s business saying, “This is a risk factor.” Coca-Cola needs to preserve its water rights, Boeing has their supply change management, Exxon has all but priced carbon in. They have influence in the Republican Party. There’s a growing divestment movement. The big question is, does it get into the California retirement fund, the New York retirement fund, those $100 billion funds that will move markets? Politicians also have responsibility to act if the public opinion changes. Flooding, storms, droughts are all getting people talking about climate change. I wonder if someday Atlanta will run out of water?
Think back to the Apollo program. President Kennedy motivated us to land a man on the moon. How that will play out exactly this time around, I don’t know. When we talk about climate, we need to do everything we can to set the stage before the actors come on. And they may only have one chance at success. We should keep thinking: How do we maximize that chance of success?
Climate change isn’t just an environmental issue; it’s a technology, water, food, energy, population issue. None of this happens in a vacuum......
Slate: What could really change in the debate on climate?
Titley: We need to start prioritizing people, not polar bears. We’re probably less adaptable than them, anyway. The farther you are from the Beltway, the more you can have a conversation about climate no matter how people vote. I never try to politicize the issue.
Most people out there are just trying to keep their job and provide for their family. If climate change is now a once-in-a-mortgage problem, and if food prices start to spike, people will pay attention. Factoring in sea-level rise, storms like Hurricane Katrina and Sandy could become not once-in-100-year events, but once-in-a-mortgage events. I lost my house in Waveland, Miss., during Katrina. I’ve experienced what that’s like.
 

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