Year 4, Month 12, Day 5: Gotta Get Out Of This Place

The Times of India notes Defense Secretary Hagel’s recent remarks on climate change and the Arctic:

WASHINGTON: Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world, US defence secretary Chuck Hagel has said.

“Climate change is shifting the landscape in the Arctic more rapidly than anywhere else in the world,” Hagel said in his address at Halifax International Security Forum in Nova Scotia, Canada yesterday.


The defence secretary said climate change does not directly cause conflict, but it can significantly add to the challenges of global instability, hunger, poverty and conflict.

“Food and water shortages, pandemic disease, disputes over refugees and resources, more severe natural disasters all place additional burdens on economies, societies and institutions around the world,” he said.

Hagel said planning for climate change in smarter energy investments not only makes US a stronger military, they have many additional benefits: saving money, reducing demand and helping protect the environment.

Things would be very different if they were not as they are. November 24:

The US Defense Secretary’s remarks about climate change’s impact on the Arctic drastically understate the case. Given that temperatures at the top of the world are now higher than they’ve ever been for tens of thousands of years, putting the entire ice cap on track to melt completely within a few decades at most, “shifting the landscape” seems as inadequate as describing decapitation as a new hair style.

Secretary Hagel is absolutely correct, however, in drawing the connection between climate change and geopolitical instability. It is common sense to reinforce infrastructure and prepare strategic food reserves to prepare for the increased likelihood of extreme weather events and the crop failures and destroyed harvests they’re certain to bring. Furthermore, global heating brings the potential for unprecedented numbers of refugees and the likelihood that border conflicts will escalate into destructive and tragic resource wars. When rising seas, super-typhoons, and mounting temperatures all come together, the lives of billions will hang in the balance, and the horrors of Partition will seem tame in comparison. Hence the critical importance of strengthening diplomatic mechanisms between nations on the front lines of the climate crisis.

Warren Senders

Year 4, Month 6, Day 21: Now Let’s Not Always See The Same Hands….

Dawn, a leading Pakistani newspaper, discusses the climate problem from a Pakistani perspective:

Pakistan is no stranger to being plagued by multiple crises. News headlines are usually dominated by issues like terrorism, extremism and power shortage but an even more alarming danger could affect the future of Pakistan if it is not tackled on a priority basis.

The dangerous threat we all know as climate change has been virtually left off the radar by our less than visionary leaders when it comes to issues of national priority.

Environmental degradation costs Rs 365 billion annually to Pakistan and unsafe water and sanitation costs Rs 112 alone in terms of financial damage.

A comprehensive report was first highlighted in December 2012 which shows alarming trends of climate change in Pakistan.

The report entitled ‘Climate Change in Pakistan – focused on Sindh Province’ forecast low agricultural productivity from lack of water for irrigation and erratic rainfall. Conditions in the fertile Indus delta, already facing saline water intrusion and coastal erosion, are expected to deteriorate further.

Data gathered from 56 meteorological stations show heat waves increasing from 1980 to 2009, a period marked by glacier retreats, steadily rising average temperature in the Indus delta and changes in temperature pattern in summer and winter.

Ghulam Rasul, chief meteorologist at the Pakistan Meteorological Department and the main author of the report, told that although Pakistan’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions is low, it is among countries highly vulnerable to climate change.

Yes indeedy. June 6:

As global heating accelerates, Pakistan and neighboring nations will face enormous challenges in the coming decades. It is a cruel irony that those of the world’s countries which have contributed the least to planetary greenhouse emissions are the ones facing the most immediate damage from their effects, while the major sources of carbon pollution are relatively protected by lucky accidents of geography from the consequences of their actions.

Analysts predict that as water shortages intensify and agriculture becomes less predictable and productive, climate change’s strategic impact will include bitter resource wars, a catastrophic development. While morality demands that industrialized nations take immediate steps to reduce atmospheric carbon output, it’s equally imperative that the countries currently suffering the most from this human-caused destabilization strengthen their infrastructure to prepare for times of shortage and privation, while reinforcing diplomatic and cultural systems to ensure that the likely humanitarian crises can be peacefully resolved.

Warren Senders


Year 4, Month 4, Day 23: It’s Not THAT Kind Of Party

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Jay Bookman has a nice piece detailing Jim Inhofe’s idiotic “cross-examination” of a senior admiral:

Earlier this week, at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, the senator and the admiral shared a little colloquy on the question of climate change. It went something like this:

INHOFE: “Admiral, I’d like to get clarification on one statement that was I think misrepresented. It was in the Boston Globe it reported that you indicated, and I’m quoting noew from the Boston the Globe now, the biggest long-term security challenge in the Pacific region is climate change. I’d like to have you clarify what you meant by that. … ”

Locklear did not back down, saying that the Pacific Rim is an area of high population growth, and that much of that growth is occurring in coastal or litoral areas, where people would be vulnerable to storms, flooding, rising sea level and other problems. He went on:

“From 2008 to 2012, about 280,000 people died (in natural disasters in the Pacific region). It was not not all climate change or weather-related, but a lot of them were due to that. About 800,000 people were displaced and there was about $500 billion of lost productivity. So when I look and I think about our planning and I think about what I have to do with allies and partners, and I look long-term, it’s important that countries in this region build capabilities into their infrastructures to be able to deal with the types of things … ”

At which point Inhofe broke in:

“OK, I — sir, I’m going to interrupt you here,” Inhofe said, “because now you’ve used up half my time, and we didn’t get right around to — is it safe to say that in the event that this — that the climate is changing — which so many of the scientists disagree with — in fact, when the Boston Globe, coming out of Massachusetts, made a statement, perhaps arguably one of the top scientists in the country, Richard Lindzen, also from Massachusetts, MIT, said that was laughable.”

He then changed the subject to China.

What a turd. April 11:

If James Inhofe didn’t want Samuel Locklear to tell the truth about climate change’s impact on geopolitical security, he shouldn’t ask the Admiral a direct question in a Senate committee hearing. While the Oklahoma Senator is well-known as the GOP’s uber-denialist, his readiness to disregard a senior military leader’s sworn testimony makes a mockery of his party’s ostensible respect for our nation’s armed forces.

The fact is that even if the accelerating greenhouse effect is not causally linked to human CO2 emissions, the world is still getting hotter. Those spiking temperatures are real, and their effects are devastating, as farmers in Inhofe’s drought-plagued home state know only too well. Admiral Locklear gave a direct answer to a direct question, but Senator Inhofe’s refusal to hear an answer that didn’t fit his ideology is further confirmation that the Republicans are now, in Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s phrase, the “party of stupid.”

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 10, Day 31: A Cheerful Thought.

USA Today points out that frogs in the pot of boiling water are more likely to start wars with one another:

If climate change predictions turn out to be true, some parts of the world could become more violent, according to a new study released today.

“The relationship between temperature and conflict shows that much warmer-than-normal temperatures raise the risk of violence,” the authors write in the study, which appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study was led by John O’Loughlin, a professor of geography at the University of Colorado. It was done in concert with the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder.

This study is not trying to draw parallels to how violence escalates in some urban areas in the summer due to heat, reports O’Loughlin. This is about how warmer temperatures cause stresses on crops and grasslands, forcing people to fight with their neighbors for food and other resources.

O’Loughlin and his team examined the influence of temperature and precipitation on the risk of violent conflict in nine East African countries between 1990 and 2009, and found that increased precipitation dampened the risk of violence, whereas very hot temperatures raised it.

The changer things get, the samer they stay. Sent October 24:

As the planet’s atmosphere heats, the potential for extreme weather increases. The extra energy triggered by the accelerating greenhouse effect will show up as unseasonal storms, unpredictable rain and snow, careening high and low temperatures, and bizarre events. It’s hardly surprising that the seasons of human life will be likewise disrupted.

In the coming years of climate crisis, nations everywhere will be faced with massive stresses and strains: famines, droughts, refugee crises, and resource conflicts. While we cannot forecast exactly whose boundaries will be rent asunder by the ravages of a transforming climate, there’s no doubt that the twenty-first century will be packed with international emergencies.

It’s not just reinforced roads and bridges, or a decentralized power grid. If we are to avoid climate change’s geopolitical impacts, the world’s nations must develop a robust diplomatic infrastructure to prevent Earth’s radically transforming environment from forcing us into devastating wars.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 10, Day 27: Both Candidates Will Eat A Live Bug, On National Television

By the time this shows up on the blog, the last presidential debate will be in the past. Maybe my letter will have been rendered irrelevant. In any case, as I type this, it’s Saturday, October 20, and the LA Times notes that climate activists are still trying to get somebody (anybody!) to ask some damn questions:

With just 2 1/2 weeks left before election day, there’s an urgency on all fronts in the presidential race. For activists, it’s not just about whether President Obama or Mitt Romney will win, but whether either man will pay attention to their issue.

Perhaps no interest community has been as disappointed as those who worry about global climate change. They have repeatedly called for more attention to the issue and, for the most part, failed to get it.

This week’s presidential debate prompted a new round of regret and demands for Romney and Obama to address the topic, as both candidates spent their most notable time arguing about how much coal they would extract from federal lands.

“Both President Obama and Gov. Romney maintained the silence on climate, again ignoring the growing roster of extreme climate-change induced weather events,” said Maura Cowley, executive director of a consortium of youth-oriented groups called the Energy Action Coalition. “As young voters, and the generation with the most to lose if we don’t address the climate crisis now, we demand both candidates break the silence on climate change by standing up to big oil and gas with ambitious plans for clean energy.”

A political application of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis helps us understand why it’s nahgannahappan. Sent October 20:

Monday’s presidential debate will focus on foreign policy, which ought to provide a perfect opening for questions about global climate change. After all, the accelerating greenhouse effect transcends national boundaries, affecting all life on Earth equally. Furthermore, rising planetary temperatures and increased extreme weather will have humanitarian and geopolitical consequences, often in areas with a long history of conflict. It’d seem that our rapidly transforming climate is an essential subject in any discussion of foreign policy. Why won’t it happen on Monday?

“Foreign policy” as a field is concerned precisely with national boundaries — those human abstractions which surging atmospheric CO2 counts make irrelevant. The hard truth is that America (and the rest of the world) must rise above the narrow strategic concerns which have preoccupied us for centuries. Climate change is a global problem, not a “foreign” one, and there is as yet no scheduled debate on “planetary policy.”

Warren Senders