Climate Change through the Political Looking Glass

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Climate Change through the Political Looking GlassWith the current disaster brought by Hurricane Michael and the various other natural disasters that seem to be growing in occurrence around the globe, it raises more awareness of the possibility of Climate change as a viable concern. But there is one potential impact that no one talks about yet it is happening before our eyes. And it is not a mother nature thing.

For decades, we have been hearing about all the potential dystopia that could happen with drastic climate change. You know the litany: More severe storms, rising sea levels, flooding and droughts, release of trapped methane gas in the once frozen tundra, the disruption of the ocean currents, changing seasons (Tulips in December or Michael in October), severe heatwaves, increasing rates of animal extinctions, and running out of NCIS reruns. But one of the most feasible impacts that could have a major and more immediate impact on our modern civilization has not been given much publicity.

For half a century, forward-looking military officers had considered with increasing concern what global warming might mean in their area of responsibility. They would surely be called upon, for example, if weather disasters multiplied. In 2003, defense intellectuals in the Pentagon commissioned a report on “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security.” As reported in a leak to the press, the authors warned of a risk that “mega-droughts, famine, and widespread rioting will erupt across the world…. abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water, and energy supplies.” The authors concluded that “the threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism.”[1]

As this editorial is being written, Marshal law has been proclaimed in the areas destroyed by Hurricane Michael. Indeed, victims need food, shelter, medical attention and a place to sleep. We all look to our governments to come to the rescue, and they do the best they can do. However, we all know that once the “storm has passed” regaining normal life takes time, money and leadership. Time we have but money and leadership are another story. Every day, I think about the over 20 million refugees living in tents with no foreseeable future. Even worse, they depend largely on government and NGO support for just the basics of life. No democracy, no economy, nothing but basic survival. They become wards of the state and live a life similar to that of prisoners of war with few rights and no say in the direction of their future.

Think about how the disruptions caused by Climate change can move governments to the center of our lives. Multitudes would become dependent on the goodwill and efficiencies of government bureaucracy. Not a happy thought, is it?

Given the current trend of populism and nationalism and right-wing politics, could Global climate change be seen as a potential opportunity for governments to consolidate power and control? Perversely, citizens depend on governments to resolve the important and very complex issues of climate change.

With the coming age of Artificial intelligence, growing populations with expectations that depend on economic, social and political stability…could the increasing impacts of climate change become a convenient excuse for imposing more central control and dependence on government policies?

[1] https://history.aip.org/climate/impacts.htm

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