Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Climate Change is a "threat multiplier" says Pentagon Report - which ones?

            Just recently the US Pentagon (headquarters of the US Department of Defense in Arlington County, Virginia) released a report claiming that Climate Change multiplies existing threat factors such as flooding or drought probability or the incidence of terrorist activity. Internal blog link:

             This week Canada has experienced the type of thing they were talking about: terrorism, the real thing (that is, here, in N. America affecting innocent Canadian citizens and their families).

Background: Canada has recently joined a coalition fighting the jihadist group Islamic State (IS). Canada has committed by sending a team of 600 and aircraft.

             IS responded to coalition air strikes by inciting sympathizers in coalition countries to attack members of their own national military forces on home ground. One message suggested using automobiles to run people down. The result?

             October 20, 2014; St Jean sur Richelieu, Québec: Martin Rouleau, a 25 year old failed businessman and father of one, deliberately ran down two soldiers in a parking lot, killing one. Rouleau, once described as a party-boy, took a recent failed business venture very badly. Apparently lacking inner resilience, he turned to religion for solace and converted to Islam. Recently, he became radicalized and praised jihadists in conversations and on social media. How or by whom he was radicalized is not yet known. However, his family, disturbed by his behavior and attitudes, ratted him out to the RCMP (federal police). The RCMP investigated Rouleau and met with him on "many" occasions. Although no indictable activities were uncovered, Rouleau was assigned an elevated risk to join jihadist fighters overseas and his passport was confiscated. In his last meeting with the RCMP only weeks before the attack, Rouleau assured the cops and his family that he was reforming his ways.

               After running down the two soldiers, Rouleau led the police on a high speed car chase which terminated in armed confrontation. Police claim Rouleau attacked them with a "huge knife" and was shot dead.

               October 22, 2014; Ottawa, Ontario: Breaking news. As I understand things, this morning, an armed man killed a soldier guarding the War Memorial. Action then moved up to the Parliament as the shooter somehow managed to enter the Parliament block (!!) Inside, he began shooting before being killed himself: another suicide mission. But do we bother asking why young men "with their lives ahead of them" do things like this..

               As far as I can establish at the time of writing, two people have been killed: the shooter - a "man of interest" to the police for jihadist leanings and the soldier shot in the chest at the War Memorial. (Other news sources claim the dead shooter has not been identified - the situation, as the police say, is still "fluid".) A third person was injured. The police, this morning at least, seem to believe several shooters might be involved (and they are apparently still not certain if one or several shooters were involved - 10 hours later). The least once say: such situations generate confusion, chaos and fear (which, of course, is the intention of the terrorists). 

what people made jittery by terrorism sound like: 

what made this young man join the jihad:

              In general, our society has been described as anxiety generating (existentialism), disempowering (political Left and Right) or lacking in positive human values such as empathy, authenticity, etc. A good summary of these positions was recently posted by an "ecotherapist" on the site Climate Change: It's Personal:

"coming from a counselling / ecopsychology perspective, i would say that we have been collectively, intergenerationally traumatized by our removal from our land. our civilization represents a disconnection from the earth/nature - a broken relationship with the Earth as a living other, which our psyches are unable to cope with - it is not what we evolved to cope with. we respond with avoidance behaviours such as addictive consumption, attempts at controlling others and nature, childish behaviours like magical thinking (god will save us, technology will save us ... ), blaming others, anger, depression, denial, dissociation ... not to mention confusion and/or ignorance due to having been manipulated. the same dysfunctional behaviours you see in people with mental health problems in any other context, just operating collectively in a society-earth context ... the answer at mind/soul level lies in healing our relationship with the earth through reconnection, which of course comes back to all the practical things like restoring local community, conservation work, growing food, experiencing the restorative beauty of the outdoors/nature ... 

.. if you view it as an addiction to consumption/technology, then i guess people have been born addicted - analogous to babies born to heroin-addicted mothers. or you can see it as the cycle of abuse - our technological society abuses its citizens and we pass on the abuse to the planet - just as children growing up in abusive families think the abusive behaviour is normal"

          This, of course, reflects a psychological truism: we repeat what we have been taught. If, however, it is our civilization itself that is "pathogenic", then we - somehow! - have to find a new perspective from which we can observe our self-destructive behaviors. Only then we will possess the wisdom and motivation to break the self-replicating cycle of "intergenerational violence to the earth" (and to ourselves, since we are Gaia's children..) 

           But how do we "rise to a higher perspective", obtain a bird's eye view of ourselves and our behaviors on the earth? Or, at least, how will a significant percentage of us rise to a higher perspective, where we finally grasp the damage we are doing to our planet, where we can realistically assess potential long term consequences? Will it take massive destruction of the planet's vital ecosystems with subsequent human die off? Is that what it will take? "Learning through pain" - have we not evolved beyond that? Probably not..

           In the perspective of the drama unfolding in the nation's capitol today, the words of the  Pentagon report, cited earlier, ring like a fire alarm in the night: climate change will be - already is - a "threat multiplier". And this includes the threat of terrorism, both foreign and "home grown" varieties..       

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