Rethinking National Security and Climate Change and Global Environmental Policy

In this highly political season in the U.S. we seem to be in a situation of debating with the dumb and the deaf but we are really not debating at all since the other side (mostly) knows our planet is heating up and that CO2 from human activities is largely to blame.  But it is not in their interest to acknowledge a reality that is already torching our lands and destroying billions of dollars in food and other crops around the world, and impacting the poor, farmers, food companies, and transportation and processing industries.

But even in our advanced economy, climate change is devastating our environment and especially our rural landscape where much of those Americans who are “global warming deniers” seem to live. Many of the most adamant “deniers” in Congress live or represent areas where the devastation is greatest. What is wrong with this picture?

The answer is in special interest money from oil companies like EXXON/Mobile, from billionaire Koch brothers, and from Almerson a gambling billionaire who has largely bought Romney and much of the Republican Party.

Recently the Republican Party including Mitt Romney, who should know better, seems to pander to and follow such deniers who are his supporters and advisors.  Here is Romney’s damning quote:  “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”  

It is not surprising that the GOP leaders have turned their backs on addressing in any serious way the reality of climate change. They have doubled up their indifference to it’s impact by even preventing a farm bill from passing in Congress this past month which would have helped to diminish the drought devastation that has cut across the wide farm belt, specifically hitting the Mid-West and West but also the South and East.

The great ability of our farmers to produce food, much of which is exported to feed the hungry abroad and our poor at home is indeed a key element in a deeper understanding of our national security, and not least our moral obligations. It is a key element to our global policy goals.

Among the “climate deniers” or opponents to acting to address the climate crisis, are first of all Mitt Romney who is not sure human impact is a factor in CO2 growth, but you can also add The House Speaker Representative John Boehner who said nonsensically : “The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical,” Mr. Boehner told ABC News in an April 2009 interview. “Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide.” He did not even address the science behind CO2 emissions and its proven role in planet warming.

As to why President Obama has not be fully able to carry out his policies of energy independence with priority on “ green technologies, look no further that the position of Senator James Inhofe (Ranking member, US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works): He said, “President Obama’s green energy agenda has been a disaster. The time has come to put these tired, failed policies to rest and embrace the US energy boom so that we can put Americans back to work” The fact is that major investment in clean energies will create American jobs and save the environment at the same time. It will also help our broad national security interests and lower our dependence on risky oil imports.

The climate threat is a critical danger to all nations including America that only a full out nuclear war can match.  As James Hansen, the Nobel Laureate wrote recently:

“…… near-term, things will be bad enough. Over the next several decades, the Western United States and the semi-arid region from North Dakota to Texas will develop semi-permanent drought, with rain, when it does come, occurring in extreme events with heavy flooding. Economic losses would be incalculable. More and more of the Midwest would be a dust bowl. California’s Central Valley could no longer be irrigated. Food prices would rise to unprecedented levels.

If this sounds apocalyptic, it is. This is why we need to reduce emissions dramatically.”

The prediction long-term is worse, according to Hansen, and includes, with the production of such carbon sources of the tar sands, that “heat-trapping gases would assure that the disintegration of the ice sheets would accelerate out of control. Sea levels would rise and destroy coastal cities. Global temperatures would become intolerable. Twenty to 50 percent of the planet’s species would be driven to extinction. Civilization would be at risk.”

Recently there has been a lot of criticism of President Obama for not doing enough to push for clean energy programs. But too many of the critics appear to be unwilling to put the real blame on those in the Republican Party who have both an effective veto in Congress and support from the dominant right wing judges in our courts.

Yes, the time to debate and act on our long-term climate direction is long overdue but massive money spent by industries has drowned out the voices of reason, either the scientists themselves or even our more responsible political leaders. Money is not only buying what is left of our democracy it is also buying the destruction of our planet for future generations. It is time however for informed citizens to recognize who the real culprits destroying our global ecosystem are and to speak up with vigor.

Comments are welcome!

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