Monday, October 20, 2014

Pentagon preprares for Climate Change chaos, "a threat multiplier"..

abbreviations used in this article:

CC - Climate Change

          The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation ran a very interesting article this morning on its radiocast, The Current. The guest was a pentagon spokesperson discussing a report released by the US Pentagon, climate change looming as threat to U.S. national security. Check out the audiofile, first few articles deal with the report.

            Although I have known for some time that the Pentagon was taking Climate Change (CC) seriously and was drawing up contingency plans, listening to the spokesperson speak of it in such immediate, concrete terms was a bit of a mind-bender. CC is no longer a "future threat" but an "immediate, operational reality". CC is "threat multiplier" which "complicates exponentially" existing geopolitical threats. It is an "urgent threat to our military even as it operates today"..

             For example, CC has the potential, at least, to radically ramp up the threat of terrorism. Why? No brainer, really: recurrent floods or drought increases poverty, generalized misery. Crop losses incurred by extreme weather events can act as regional political destabilizers with fanatics and extremists almost certain to profit (footnote 1)

                    the political, social and moral price of climate injustice might be high..
                 On a more prosaic, "it's the sea-level rise, stupid!", level: employees at an important military base in Norfolk Hampton Roads, Virginia are having increasing difficulty simply getting to work because of more frequent road flooding caused by rising sea level!       

                     going to work to work at the NHR base on a rainy day (at high tide?)

                Infrastructure (roads, dams, water supply, power supply, medical services, buildings.. the stuff of which our daily lives are built) is conceived with a particular climate regime in mind. Example: the river floods this high once in 50 years, so we allow buildings (with an average life expectancy of 40 years) to be built to this elevation but no lower. But what happens if the floods to that height begin to occur more frequently because of CC, say once in 20 years? You might have trouble getting insurance! The local municipality also risks getting sued by flood victims for allowing construction in flood plains at high risk. Neighborhoods decline and die as people move out. And so on.. 

               The US military is increasingly involved in civilian disaster relief as climate regimes shift and infrastructure comes under more pressure. Sometimes new and painful lessons have to learned as society - and the military - learn to adapt to new, inhabitual climate regimes. One lesson learned from New Orleans' hurricane Katrina flooding: if you live in a flood plain, do not put your emergency generators in the basement. Some hospitals did and patients died from lack of power driven equipment..  


1- scapegoating: people who feel threatened may attempt to meet the threat head on. If they can't, or believe they can't do so, they will often work out their fear (and associated aggressivity) on innocent victims, scapegoats. Thus when crops failed in Europe, mobs would attack Jews or "witches" (usually women) thought to be guilty of causing the famine through black magic. In today's world, fanatics - secular and religious - are mobilizing fear, misery and frustration to fan the flames of hatred and seize power, inflict their mad vision on the world. It has already happened in the 20th century: one need only reflect upon the Nazis, Stalin's USSR, Mao's China..

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