By Robert A. Vella
America’s extreme right-wing really is bat-shit crazy. It has conspiracy theories for just about everything under the sun which are all spawned from irrational fear. Currently, it is in freakout mode over U.S. military exercises on American soil which it sees as a prelude to the imposition of martial law. These ultra-conservative, mostly white older folks actually believe that the federal government is planning to roundup their Christian, gun-toting libertarian brethren, seize their property, and force them into cultural reeducation camps.
I suppose that if you’re going to embrace a conspiracy, you might as well make it a BIG one.
However, underneath most conspiracies, myths and legends, lays a kernel of truth. The right-wing, unlike their left-wing counterparts, has a firm grasp on the nature, purpose, and application of political power. No, the federal government is not coming after them. But, a declaration of martial law in America and elsewhere isn’t just likely, it must and will happen eventually. Here’s why:
Catastrophic climate change is no longer the wild speculation of radical environmentalists. It is transpiring now and shockingly faster than anyone had predicted. Governments around the world know this, and they also realize that climatic changes will occur at rates far exceeding the ability of Earth’s 7+ billion people to adapt. The laws of biological evolution are unwaveringly harsh. Those who cannot adapt will perish.
Science has been warning us for decades about this impending climate crisis and, although slow to catch up, political leaders have joined in ringing the alarm bells. In an April announcement by eight northern nations regarding plans to combat climate change in the imperiled Arctic, Secretary of State John Kerry admitted that:
“We’re on a dangerous path.”
The National Climate Assessment is the definitive statement of current and future impacts of carbon pollution on the United States. And the picture it paints is stark: Inaction will devastate much of the arable land of the nation’s breadbasket — and ruin a livable climate for most Americans.
“Americans face choices” explains the Congressionally-mandated report by 300 leading climate scientists and experts, which was reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences. We’re already seeing serious climate impacts — such as more extreme heat waves, droughts, and deluges — and additional impacts are “now unavoidable.”
In a 2012 news story about U.S. military plans to respond to climate change, the federal government’s sober assessment of the situation was highlighted:
A 2010 Defense Department review identified climate change and energy security as “prominent military vulnerabilities,” noting that climate change in particular is an “accelerant of instability and conflict.” It was the first time the Pentagon addressed climate in a comprehensive planning document.
A subsequent assessment by the National Research Council found that even moderate climate shifts will impact Navy operations. Sea-level rise and more severe storm surges will hit coastal military bases, and marine forces could also face more work in responding to an increase in humanitarian crises following disasters. The opening of the Arctic as sea ice disappears will likely require more patrols in harsh conditions as nations and industry interests are expected to vie for control of new trade routes and energy resources.
“The severe weather effects of climate change aren’t going to start conflicts per se,” McGinn said. But it will put added pressure on political, religious, economic and ethnic fault lines, particularly in fragile societies. “It’s not a pretty picture for the United States.”
Labor productivity would dwindle as workers wilt in the heat. Summers in Illinois would feel like a Louisiana swamp. Epic downpours and surging seas of the future would leave $5 trillion in losses. And worsening air quality would result in 57,000 premature deaths in 2100.
As President Barack Obama tries to unite the nation behind his efforts to combat climate change, the White House on Monday released a detailed projection for a dystopian future if greenhouse-gas emissions remain unchecked. The most catastrophic impact, the administration argued, can be avoided if leaders mandate the carbon cuts necessary to keep global warming to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit).
“We have a choice on how we move forward, and what our future will look like,” Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said at a White House briefing. “Action now is necessary to address that trajectory on a long-term basis.”
Since the scale of the problem is so immense, governments would be negligent if they failed to develop contingency plans for a worse-case scenario. Two years ago, a stunning exposé on such U.S. plans was published by The Guardian titled Pentagon bracing for public dissent over climate and energy shocks:
Top secret US National Security Agency (NSA) documents disclosed by the Guardian have shocked the world with revelations of a comprehensive US-based surveillance system with direct access to Facebook, Apple, Google, Microsoft and other tech giants. New Zealand court records suggest that data harvested by the NSA’s Prism system has been fed into the Five Eyes intelligence alliance whose members also include the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis – or all three.
I strongly suggest reading The Guardian’s painfully disturbing and detailed account of U.S. contingency plans which indicate that the established social order is projecting an adversarial stance towards the general population. Such a revelation is obviously frightening, or it should be to anyone below a privileged status.
Additionally, political leaders see themselves as powerless to reverse the effects of climate change given the practicalities of our governmental systems which respond to monied interests rather than the collective good. Forced to choose between maintaining the established power structure and the well-being of the larger population, their path is abundantly clear. Sacrifices by the latter are preferable to the demise of the former.