Military Officials Alarmed at Trump's Denial of Climate Change as a Major National Security Risk
January 16, 2017
Damian Carrington / The Guardian & George Monbiot / The Guardian
Senior military officials are concerned that Donald Trump refuses to recognize what the Pentagon has known for years -- "unchecked global warming is greatest threat to 21st-century security where mass migration could be 'new normal'." The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
Climate Change Will Stir 'Unimaginable' Refugee Crisis, Says Military
Damian Carrington / The Guardian
(December 1, 2016) -- Climate change is set to cause a refugee crisis of "unimaginable scale", according to senior military figures, who warn that global warming is the greatest security threat of the 21st century and that mass migration will become the "new normal".
The generals said the impacts of climate change were already factors in the conflicts driving a current crisis of migration into Europe, having been linked to the Arab Spring, the war in Syria and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency.
Military leaders have long warned that global warming could multiply and accelerate security threats around the world by provoking conflicts and migration. They are now warning that immediate action is required.
"Climate change is the greatest security threat of the 21st century," said Maj Gen Munir Muniruzzaman, chairman of the Global Military Advisory Council on climate change and a former military adviser to the president of Bangladesh. He said one metre of sea level rise will flood 20% of his nation. "We're going to see refugee problems on an unimaginable scale, potentially above 30 million people."
Previously, Bangladesh's finance minister, Abul Maal Abdul Muhith, called on Britain and other wealthy countries to accept millions of displaced people.
Brig Gen Stephen Cheney, a member of the US Department of State's foreign affairs policy board and CEO of the American Security Project, said: "Climate change could lead to a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions. We're already seeing migration of large numbers of people around the world because of food scarcity, water insecurity and extreme weather, and this is set to become the new normal.
"Climate change impacts are also acting as an accelerant of instability in parts of the world on Europe's doorstep, including the Middle East and Africa," Cheney said. "There are direct links to climate change in the Arab Spring, the war in Syria, and the Boko Haram terrorist insurgency in sub-Saharan Africa."
After Donald Trump, who has called climate change a hoax, won the US presidential election in November, Cheney said he expected senior military officials to impress upon Trump the grave threat posed to national security by global warming. "I've got to believe there are enough folks on the national security side that we can make a dent in this."
R Adm Neil Morisetti, a former commander of the UK maritime forces and the UK's climate and energy security envoy, said: "Climate change is a strategic security threat that sits alongside others like terrorism and state-on-state conflict, but it also interacts with these threats. It is complex and challenging; this is not a concern for tomorrow, the impacts are playing out today."
Morisetti said climate change would mean the UK military will be deployed more often to conflict and disaster zones. The military leaders were speaking ahead of an event in London on Thursday.
In September, a coalition of 25 US military and national security experts, including former advisers to Ronald Reagan and George W Bush, warned that climate change poses a "significant risk to US national security and international security" that requires more attention from the US federal government.
In 2015, a UK foreign office report made a stark assessment of the dangers posed by unchecked global warming, including very large risks to global food security, increased risk of terrorism as states fail, and unprecedented migration that would overwhelm international assistance.
"Countries are going to pay for climate change one way or another," said Cheney. "The best way to pay for it is by tackling the root causes of climate change and cutting greenhouse gas emissions. If we do not, the national security impacts will be increasingly costly and challenging."
Trump's Climate Denial Is Just One of the Forces that Point towards War
George Monbiot / The Guardian
(November 23, 2016) -- Wave the magic wand and the problem goes away. Those pesky pollution laws, carbon caps and clean-power plans: swish them away and the golden age of blue-collar employment will return. This is Donald Trump's promise, in his video message on Monday, in which the US president-elect claimed that unleashing coal and fracking would create "many millions of high-paid jobs". He will tear down everything to make it come true.
But it won't come true. Even if we ripped the world to pieces in the search for full employment, leaving no mountain unturned, we would not find it. Instead, we would merely jeopardise the prosperity -- and the lives -- of people everywhere. However slavishly governments grovel to corporate Luddism, they will not bring the smog economy back.
No one can deny the problem Trump claims to be addressing. The old mining and industrial areas are in crisis throughout the rich world. And we have seen nothing yet. I have just reread the study published by the Oxford Martin School in 2013 on the impacts of computerisation. What jumps out, to put it crudely, is that jobs in the rust belts and rural towns that voted for Trump are at high risk of automation, while the professions of many Hillary Clinton supporters are at low risk.
The jobs most likely to be destroyed are in mining, raw materials, manufacturing, transport and logistics, cargo handling, warehousing and retailing, construction (prefabricated buildings will be assembled by robots in factories), office support, administration and telemarketing. So what, in the areas that voted for Trump, will be left?
Farm jobs have mostly gone already. Service and care work, where hope for some appeared to lie, will be threatened by a further wave of automation, as service robots -- commercial and domestic -- take over.
Yes, there will be jobs in the green economy: more and better than any that could be revived in the fossil economy. But they won't be enough to fill the gaps, and many will be in the wrong places for those losing their professions.
At lower risk is work that requires negotiation, persuasion, originality and creativity. The management and business jobs that demand these skills are comparatively safe from automation; so are those of lawyers, teachers, researchers, doctors, journalists, actors and artists. The jobs that demand the highest educational attainment are the least susceptible to computerisation. The divisions tearing America apart will only widen.
Even this bleak analysis does not capture in full the underlying reasons why good, abundant jobs will not return to the places that need them most. As Paul Mason argues inPostCapitalism, the impacts of information technology go way beyond simple automation: they are likely to destroy the very basis of the market economy, and the relationship between work and wages.
And, as the French writer Paul Arbair notes in the most interesting essay I have read this year, beyond a certain level of complexity economies become harder to sustain. There's a point at which further complexity delivers diminishing returns; society is then overwhelmed by its demands, and breaks down. He argues that the political crisis in western countries suggests we may have reached this point.
Trump has also announced that on his first day in office he will withdraw America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He is right to do so, but for the wrong reasons. Like TTIP and Ceta, the TPP is a fake trade treaty whose primary impact is to extend corporate property rights at the expense of both competition and democracy. But withdrawal will not, as he claims, "bring jobs and industry back to American shores". The work in Mexico and China that Trump wants to reclaim will evaporate long before it can be repatriated.
As for the high-quality, high-waged working-class jobs he promised, these are never handed down from on high. They are secured through the organisation of labour. But the unions were smashed by Ronald Reagan, and collective bargaining has been suppressed ever since by casualisation and fragmentation. So how is this going to happen? Out of the kindness of Trump's heart? Kindness, Trump, heart?
But it's not just Trump. Clinton and Bernie Sanders also made impossible promises to bring back jobs. Half the platform of each party was based on a delusion. The social, environmental and economic crises we face require a complete reappraisal of the way we live and work. The failure by mainstream political parties to produce a new and persuasive economic narrative, which does not rely on sustaining impossible levels of growth and generating illusory jobs, provides a marvelous opening for demagogues everywhere.
Governments across the world are making promises they cannot keep. In the absence of a new vision, their failure to materialise will mean only one thing: something or someone must be found to blame. As people become angrier and more alienated, as the complexity and connectivity of global systems becomes ever harder to manage, as institutions such as the European Union collapse and as climate change renders parts of the world uninhabitable, forcing hundreds of millions of people from their homes, the net of blame will be cast ever wider.
Eventually the anger that cannot be assuaged through policy will be turned outwards, towards other nations. Faced with a choice between hard truths and easy lies, politicians and their supporters in the media will discover that foreign aggression is among the few options for political survival.
I now believe that we will see war between the major powers within my lifetime. Which ones it will involve, and on what apparent cause, remains far from clear. But something that once seemed remote now looks probable.
A complete reframing of economic life is needed not just to suppress the existential risk that climate change presents (a risk marked by a 20°C anomaly reported in the Arctic Ocean while I was writing this article), but other existential threats as well -- including war.
Today's governments, whether they are run by Trump or Obama or May or Merkel, lack the courage and imagination even to open this conversation. It is left to others to conceive of a more plausible vision than trying to magic back the good old days. The task for all those who love this world and fear for our children is to imagine a different future rather than another past.
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