Year 4, Month 3, Day 23: NewThink Tanks

The Jewish Daily Forward notes the recent report on the national security implications of climate change, presented by a whole bunch of military top brass:

If you missed this one, don’t beat yourself up. Hardly anybody noticed it. It was just another one of those calls for action to combat climate change, an “open letter” to the president and Congress from about three dozen public figures. We’ve seen hundreds of these things by now. After a while, they all look the same.

If there was anything different about this one to merit a second look, it might be the fact that it didn’t mention healing the planet or saving God’s creatures. Instead, it described climate change in starkly pragmatic terms as a “serious threat to American national security interests.” And it spelled out why.

Also noteworthy is the fact that the 38 signers were a collection of some of the country’s most distinguished authorities on national security, including nine retired generals and admirals, a former CIA director, both heads of the 9/11 Commission, 15 former senators and House members (10 Republicans, five Democrats) plus former secretaries of state, defense and other cabinet members from the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Clinton and both Bush administrations, father and son.

Given that kind of heft, you might think it would have gotten some respectful press coverage. But no. One article at and a handful at obscure specialty websites. That’s it.

The silence is particularly odd when you consider the fact that the letter comes amid a virtual barrage of new warnings from intelligence, defense and other public agencies about the security dangers posed by climate change. In the past four months, at least four lengthy scientific reports have been published that detail various aspects of the threat — one in November, one in December and two in February. Three were produced or funded by arms of the U.S. intelligence community. The fourth came from an unusual consortium of conservative and liberal think tanks.

They won’t admit they were wrong. Ever. March 11:

That ostensibly security-obsessed conservatives in America are unwilling to take the expert opinion of our country’s top military personnel on climate change is highly revealing. They are not a responsible element of a representative government, but an ideologically-driven cadre which is absolutely unwilling to change any of its positions, even those which are repeatedly proved erroneous. The same people who’ve turned xenophobia into a political platform with their unhealthy fixation on illegal immigrants are ready to dismiss the inevitability of millions of drought-driven climate refugees in the coming decades — because such an acknowledgement would conflict with their anti-science, fact-phobic public personae.

Conservative politicians and their tea-party constituents often froth at the mouth over non-existent threats: Gay marriage! Birth control! Sharia law in the US! Confiscating our assault rifles! However, let a genuine crisis loom, and we can count on them to reject meaningful action while hamstringing those who accept and understand the facts — even if it means ignoring the advice of the military they vociferously claim to support.

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 4, Day 26: If I Make My Lips Go B-B-B-B-B-B, I Can Pretend To Be A Motorcycle

More on the military plans for a transformed climate, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:

Russia, Canada and the United States have the biggest stakes in the Arctic. With its military budget stretched thin by Iraq, Afghanistan and more pressing issues elsewhere, the United States has been something of a reluctant northern power, though its nuclear-powered submarine fleet, which can navigate for months underwater and below the ice cap, remains second to none.

Russia — one-third of which lies within the Arctic Circle — has been the most aggressive in establishing itself as the emerging region’s superpower.

Rob Huebert, an associate political science professor at the University of Calgary in Canada, said Russia has recovered enough from its economic troubles of the 1990s to significantly rebuild its Arctic military capabilities, which were a key to the overall Cold War strategy of the Soviet Union, and has increased its bomber patrols and submarine activity.

He said that has in turn led other Arctic countries — Norway, Denmark and Canada — to resume regional military exercises that they had abandoned or cut back on after the Soviet collapse. Even non-Arctic nations such as France have expressed interest in deploying their militaries to the Arctic.

Don’t ask me to explain the headline of this post. Sent April 17:

It was a mantra for Republicans when discussing proposals to end America’s involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan: the only authorities worth consulting were the “generals in the field.” But conservatives don’t always revere military opinion. Those same lawmakers will certainly do their best to ignore the fact that our armed forces are hard at work, planning for a geopolitical future transformed by climate change.

Because, of course, it’s another conservative mantra: climate change isn’t real (if it is real, it’s a socialist conspiracy; scientists want to raise our taxes!). Given that the loudest voices rejecting the science of global warming belong to the senators and representatives who once vociferously touted the ultimate authority of our military leaders, how can these legislators possibly recognize the existence of the U.S. Navy’s task force on climate change?

Wouldn’t it be nice if environmental policy was based on scientific reality instead of political ideology?

Warren Senders

Year 3, Month 4, Day 24: Paisley and Patchouli

The Minnesota Star-Tribune addresses the newest addition to the Hippie Ranks:

YOKOSUKA, Japan — To the world’s military leaders, the debate over climate change is long over. They are preparing for a new kind of Cold War in the Arctic, anticipating that rising temperatures there will open up a treasure trove of resources, long-dreamed-of sea lanes and a slew of potential conflicts.

By Arctic standards, the region is already buzzing with military activity, and experts believe that will increase significantly in the years ahead.

Last month, Norway wrapped up one of the largest Arctic maneuvers ever — Exercise Cold Response — with 16,300 troops from 14 countries training on the ice for everything from high intensity warfare to terror threats. Attesting to the harsh conditions, five Norwegian troops were killed when their C-130 Hercules aircraft crashed near the summit of Kebnekaise, Sweden’s highest mountain.

The U.S., Canada and Denmark held major exercises two months ago, and in an unprecedented move, the military chiefs of the eight main Arctic powers — Canada, the U.S., Russia, Iceland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland — gathered at a Canadian military base last week to specifically discuss regional security issues.

I ought to be able to get a couple more letters out of this story. It’d be fun to mock Darrell Issa even if there was no climate crisis. Sent April 16:

If we are to judge by their plans and strategic preparations, there’s no doubt that America’s military establishment is taking climate change seriously.

This raises the troubling possibility that the armed forces have been infiltrated by an international conspiracy of climate scientists, tree-hugging environmentalists, and socialist college professors, in which case we can expect soldiers to start confiscating SUVs and hauling their drivers off to compulsory re-education camps. This is surely an obvious place for a stalwart anti-environmentalist like Representative Darrell Issa to start an investigation. The House Oversight Committee, which Issa chairs, needs to start issuing subpoenas; let’s get to the bottom of this!

But wait — could it be that military analysts know something these legislators don’t? Perhaps in their eagerness to pander to the tea-partiers in their district, congressional climate-change denialists have been ignoring facts that don’t suit their ideologies. Perhaps the corporations that fund their campaigns have more influence on our lawmakers than the opinions of our nation’s military leaders.

I don’t know. Sounds pretty far-fetched to me.

Warren Senders

Year 2, Month 6, Day 1: I Wanna Go To Andorra

The Guardian (UK) notes that the US armed forces are actively preparing for the problems of climate change:

Federal legislation to combat climate change is quashed for the foreseeable future, scuttled by congressional climate cranks who allege the climate-science jury is still out. What’s become clear is that, for some, the jury will always be out. We can’t stack scientific facts high enough to hop over the fortified ideological walls they’ve erected around themselves. Fortunately, though, a four-star trump card waits in the wings: the US national security apparatus.

The comments are priceless. Sent May 20:

The cognitive dissonance involved in being a modern-day Republican is extreme, and it will no doubt be further exacerbated by the conclusions drawn by the United States military on the dangers posed by climate change. With a record that includes decades of posturing about “deferring to the generals” on defense issues, the GOP is now in a bit of a box when it comes to responding to the armed forces’ consensus on the strategic consequences of the greenhouse effect. Forced by the exigencies of Republican primary elections to deny simultaneously both scientific evidence and the advice of their military leaders, these anti-science legislators have an impossible needle to thread. Were the issues involved not ones of such great moment, the dilemma of contemporary conservatives would be irresistibly comical. Alas, this is no laughing matter — an assessment bolstered by every single strategic analysis of climate change and its epiphenomena.

Warren Senders