Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Climate change: and 'security'

There are really big questions around climate change:
Futures Forum: Climate change: and the increased risks of global conflict ... the evidence ...
Futures Forum: Climate change 'will foster terrorism and fuel immigration'

This is from a piece in the liberal weekly magazine The Nation a week ago:

Syria May Be the First Climate-Change Conflict, but It Won’t Be the Last

While our political establishment dithers, the Pentagon recognizes that climate change is an immediate threat to national security.

By Joshua Holland OCTOBER 27, 2015

“The impacts of climate change have increasingly entered the mainstream of defense and security discussions, ” says David Titley, who rose to the rank of Rear Admiral as the head of the US Navy’s Meteorology and Oceanography Command before becoming the director of Penn State’s Center for Solutions to Weather and Climate Risk. 

“If you raise the question of what we should be doing as the climate changes, people no longer ask, ‘why are you talking about this?’ Policy people are asking what might be the next shoe to drop. They’re wondering what might take us by surprise.”

 In 2014, the Defense Department released its “Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap,” describing the issue not as a long-term concern, but something that “poses immediate risks to U.S. national security.” The Defense Department sees the changing environment as a “threat multiplier” which will exacerbate existing security issues. According to the DoD’s roadmap, “Rising global temperatures… will intensify the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict.”

That worries Christine Parthemore, who spent five years at the Pentagon as a senior advisor to the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Defense Programs before founding a consulting firm called CLP Global LLC. “Armed conflict on a large scale has been on a decline for decades and decades,” she says. “We’re not in the world war era anymore, but people are fighting and dying and at war all over the world in ways that we don’t really consider warfare in the same way. I’m really concerned about the effects on food supplies, and how that can lead to social unrest, the movement of people, people rioting and that sort of thing.”

Parthemore also worries about “increasing urbanization–especially in Asia but in parts of coastal Africa as well–colliding with the effects of sea-level rise. That not only threatens billions of dollars of infrastructure, but also leads to people moving or being forcibly relocated. And when things like that happen in countries with existing social cleavages–along ethnic or tribal lines–that’s where social tensions tend to get exacerbated by environmental effects in ways that can lead to armed conflict.”

Syria May Be the First Climate-Change Conflict, but It Won’t Be the Last
How Climate Change Is Threatening Iraq’s Fragile Security | The Nation

This echos a piece in the Independent from the week before:

Climate change is destabilising the world and becoming 'threat to national security', US security chiefs warn

Former Defence Secretaries, Army chiefs of staff and national security experts were among those calling for action

Lizzie Dearden  hursday 22 October 2015

Three former Defence Secretaries and two ex-Secretaries of State are among the politicians demanding that climate change be treated as “a threat to US national security”.

Chuck Hagel, William Cohen and Madeleine Albright joined 45 other Republican and Democrat senior politicians, military commanders, security advisers and diplomats signing an open letter by the Partnership for a Secure America (PSA).

It said global warming was “shaping a world that is more unstable, resource-constrained, violent and disaster-prone”.

Climate change is destabilising the world and becoming 'threat to national security', US security chiefs warn | Climate Change | Environment | The Independent

The US Department of Defense's report from earlier this year 
DoD Releases Report on Security Implications of Climate Change > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Article View

... has stimulated a lot of commentary:
Climate change 'urgent and growing threat' to national security: Pentagon - Washington Times
New Report from the Pentagon – Geographic Combatant Commands Already Addressing Climate Change Threat « The Center for Climate & Security


'It will impact how our military defends our country'

Published: 21 hours ago

With the stroke of a pen, Ashton Carter turned the focus of the U.S. Department of Defense in a new direction. Instead of making ISIS and Islamic terrorism the first priority, the new focus will be on global warming and climate change.

Carter, a member of the secretive Trilateral Commission, is a leading technocrat in the globalist fold, says Patrick Wood, author of “Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse of Global Transformation.” Carter became defense secretary in February and didn’t wait long to make his influence felt.

As Wood points out in an article for Technocracy News and Trends, the secretary put out a press release on July 29 that announced the policy shift. It received almost no attention at the time, but as the world leaders inch closer to the Climate Change Summit in Paris Nov. 30, the emphasis on climate change appears more than mere boiler plate bureaucratic gobbledygook.

The news release states that global climate change will “aggravate problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions that threaten stability in a number of countries, according to a report the Defense Department sent to Congress yesterday.”

President Obama had already telegraphed that this was the direction the U.S. was heading in with its military. In a May 20 commencement speech to the U.S. Coast Guard, Obama said climate change was the most dire threat to the national security of the United States. “I am here today to say that climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security, and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country,” the president told graduates of the Coast Guard Academy.

'Dire Threat': U.S. Soldiers Battle Scorching New Enemy - Tea Party News‘Dire threat’: U.S. soldiers battle scorching new enemy - WND

Others question the motivation of the involvement of the security apparatus:

Securing the Climate of Capitalism

04 November 2015

Ben Hayes and Nick Buxton, editors of the forthcoming book The Secure And The Dispossessed, ask: do we really want the military and corporations to lead on how we deal with the climate crisis?

Shop in the Dark Sale - The extended period without electricity, as a result of Hurricane Sandy, is impacting businesses in the local area. / Photo credit John / Flickr

For anyone interested in US leadership on climate change, the Democratic debates last week were a welcome relief from the freak show of the Republican alternative. At least no-one pretended that there’s no such thing as man-made climate change, or as billionaire joke candidate Donald Trump put it, that it was something to be encouraged. Instead self-declared socialist Bernie Sanders was unequivocal when asked what the US’ greatest national security threat was: “The global crisis of climate change”.

Declaring climate change a national security threat has become a favoured way of arguing for progressive environmental policies. Indeed, the idea is now vigorously promoted by socialists, greens and democrats alike.

In May 2015 this year, President Obama, addressing graduating coastguard cadets in Connecticut, said: “Climate change constitutes a serious threat to global security, an immediate risk to our national security and, make no mistake, it will impact how our military defends our country. And so we need to act— and we need to act now.” UK Prime Minister David Cameron made a similar speech in 2014, saying, “Climate change is one of the most serious threats facing our world. And it is not just a threat to the environment. It is also a threat to our national security, to global security…”

But does it make sense to treat climate change as a security threat – and what are the implications? As activists involved in the environmental justice and civil liberties movements, we started exploring this issue in 2011 and our new book, The Secure and the Dispossessed, is the culmination of that research.

It seemed to us no coincidence that in the aftermath of the disastrous UN climate meetings in Copenhagen in 2009 – in which the world’s leaders abdicated their responsibility to act – leading international security actors like the Pentagon started talking about a new “age of consequences” in which “altruism and generosity would likely be blunted.” It was time to wonder whether the world’s elites had decided it was easier to try and manage the consequences of climate change, rather than address its causes.

Many environmentalists have jumped straight into bed with the securocrats and the generals. Peter Lehner of the US Natural Resources Defense Council, for example, has praised the US military for their “vision, leadership, and hard-nosed practicality in dealing with climate change.” The organisation even runs projects with the US Department of Defense to help improve energy efficiency on the sprawling vast global network of US military bases.

It only takes a quick dip into the new climate security strategies, such as the Pentagon’s 2007 report,Age of Consequences, or the 2008 EU report, though, to realise that they are based primarily on maintaining the status quo. That means securing wealth, supply lines, and profits for those who already have resources and building barriers, walls and bases to control those without. In the context of climate change, in which those least responsible for the crisis will be most affected by its impact, this approach heaps injustice upon injustice. In place of solidarity or real action to prevent worsening climate change, those most affected are treated not as victims of the most developed nations on the planet, but as threats to them.

Dystopian preparations by the state are reflected in the corporate arena. Where we see a future climate crisis, many companies see only opportunity: oil firms looking forward to melting ice caps delivering new accessible fossil fuels; security firms touting the latest technologies to secure borders from ‘climate refugees’; or investment fund managers speculating on weather-related food prices – to name but a few. In 2012, Raytheon, one of the world’s largest defence contractors, announced “expanded business opportunities” arising from “security concerns and their possible consequences,” due to the “effects of climate change” in the form of “storms, droughts, and floods”. The rest of the defence sector has been quick to follow.

The implications of a militarised and profit-making approach to climate adaptation and crisis-management are very disturbing – and need to be taken more seriously by anyone concerned with environmental justice, civil liberties and democracy. Ultimately, a security-led approach to climate change not only fails to address the fundamental causes of these crises – it will often exacerbate them. Worldwide the increased focus on food security is already driving increased land grabbing. The diversion of resources into military spending and strategies is preventing much needed investment in crisis-prevention or tackling the root causes of human insecurity.

Fortunately, as the book explores, many social movements throughout the world are actively involved in not only resisting corporate and military strategies of climate adaptation but putting forward and practising alternatives that embody principles of justice, human rights and sustainability. So in the place of calls for food security predicated on the control of food supply by corporations, for example, social movements are advocating food sovereignty and helping communities develop strategies to cope with climate change and provide healthy food for all.

It is also heartening that even in the face of disaster, the evidence shows that the default human response is not one of selfishness or Hobbesian anarchy, but of people collaborating to support each other. The response of the Occupy movement in the aftermath of 2011’s Hurricane Sandy, which at one point brought together 60,000 volunteers to run amazingly efficient centres across the city for people to donate and receive food and clothing is but one of many examples. They underscore the need to ensure that the climate crisis is faced with compassion, creativity and cooperation, not used as a fillip for further militarisation and divisive ‘security’ policies.

Securing the Climate of Capitalism | Transnational Institute

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