By Robert A. Vella
In 2014, the U.S. Department of Defense released a stunning report detailing the domino effect consequences of climate change on global stability. Specifically, it identified food and water shortages, humanitarian crises, mass migrations, infectious disease outbreaks, extreme weather, coastal flooding, international tensions, and armed conflict, as direct threats to the stability of modern civilization. Not only have numerous other national security agencies around the world issued similar warnings, but evidence for all these consequences is plainly obvious today. The coronavirus pandemic is just the latest in an ever-expanding list of examples. From: Immediate Risk to National Security Posed by Global Warming (emphasis by The Secular Jurist)
The Pentagon released a landmark report yesterday declaring climate change an “immediate risk” to national security and outlining how it intends to protect bases, prepare for humanitarian disasters and plan for global conflicts.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel unveiled the plan at the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in Peru, where he said defense leaders “must be part of this global discussion” on climate change. Militaries, he added, “must be clear-eyed about the security threats presented by climate change, and we must be pro-active in addressing them.”
“Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ because it has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today—from infectious disease to armed insurgencies—and to produce new challenges in the future,” he said.
The 20-page “2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap” warns that rising sea levels could flood coastal military bases in the United States and around the world, while droughts and extreme weather could leave leave military training areas vulnerable, hinder the execution of amphibious landings or complicate surveillance and reconnaissance capability.
It cautions that the opening of the once-frozen Arctic sea lanes will require significant monitoring to “ensure stability in this resource-rich area.” The United States, it says, must also be alert to how climate change could leave already weak nations more vulnerable, from restricting food and water to compelling mass migration.
“These developments could undermine already-fragile governments that are unable to respond effectively or challenge currently-stable governments, as well as increasing competition and tension between countries vying for limited resources,” the report states, warning of “an avenue for extremist ideologies and conditions that foster terrorism.”
Six years ago, most people casually dismissed concerns over declines in food production and fresh water supplies as “alarmist.” After damaging weather impacts to industrial agriculture (particularly in the U.S.), and after sharp decreases in commercial fishing, such flippant denials are fading fast. Humanitarian crises and mass migrations are also worsening as evidenced by the horrifying geopolitical situation in Syria as well as by the inhumane treatment of Central American migrants by the U.S. and Mexican governments. Extreme heat waves are rapidly making some regions practically unlivable (e.g. the Indian subcontinent), persistent droughts are devastating vast areas with wildfires (e.g. Australia, California), powerful tropical storms have been pounding the Southeast U.S. and Southeast Asia, whole ecosystems are moving polewards as Earth’s ice caps recede, and sea level rise is already affecting many coastal populations. It is also quite obvious that the ascendancy of ideological extremism (e.g. right-wing authoritarians like Donald Trump, and xenophobic political movements like Brexit) are intensely fueling international tensions (e.g. this year’s barely avoided war between the U.S. and Iran).
What will actually occur over the next six years is anyone’s guess, but unmitigated and unrelenting climate change is assured of worsening all these consequences. It doesn’t take a genius to see that at some point these mounting pressures will exceed the capacity of civilization to contain them. When the rug is finally pulled out from under 8 or 9 billion people, what do you think will happen?
For those interested in the fiasco of last night’s Democratic presidential debate in South Carolina, see: Fact-Checking the Democratic Debate in South Carolina
Here’s today’s news:
LONDON — In Iran, a spike in coronavirus infections has prompted fears of a contagion throughout the Middle East. In Italy, one of Europe’s largest economies, officials are struggling frantically to prevent the epidemic from paralyzing the commercial center of Milan. And in New York, London, and Tokyo, financial markets plummeted on fears that the virus will cripple the global economy.
From Asia to Europe to North America, the lethal spread of the coronavirus accelerated on Monday, putting a heavy strain on a world already fractured by trade wars, populist politics and sectarian conflict.
An equal-opportunity epidemic, the virus is afflicting open and closed societies, autocracies and democracies, developed countries and war zones alike. That makes the task of containing it even more daunting.
Federal health authorities said Tuesday they now expect a wider spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. and are preparing for a potential pandemic, though they remain unsure about how severe the health threat could be.
Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Tuesday the agency expects a sustained transmission of the virus and called for businesses, schools and communities to brace themselves and plan for potential outbreaks.
“We expect we will see community spread in this country,” meaning the virus circulating within local communities, said Dr. Messonnier. She added that the question isn’t if the virus will expand in the U.S., but when.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stepped up its call Tuesday for the public to start preparing for a possible pandemic outbreak in the U.S. of the coronavirus that’s infected more than 80,000 people killed at least 2,700 overseas in less than two months. “We are asking the American public to work with us to prepare for the expectation that this could be bad,” a top CDC officials told reporters in a conference call outlining what schools and businesses will likely need to do if the COVID-19 virus starts to spread throughout the U.S.
Schools should consider dividing students into smaller groups or close and use “internet-based teleschooling,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, told reporters on a conference call.
“For adults, businesses can replace in-person meetings with video or telephone conferences and increase teleworking options,” Messonnier said.
She said local communities and cities may need to “modify, postpone or cancel mass gatherings.” Hospitals may need to triage patients differently, add more telehealth services and delay elective surgery, she said.
The stock rout continued Tuesday as diving bond yields raised more concern that the global economy is slowing significantly because of the spreading coronavirus. The 10-year Treasury yield hit a record low as the Dow Jones Industrial Average added to Monday’s 1,000-point drop.
Comments from health officials warning of a possible outbreak in the U.S. also spooked investors, causing a turnaround in stocks, which had opened the day higher.
The Dow closed down 879 points, or 3.1%, at 27,081 after being up more than 180 points at one point shortly after the open. The S&P 500 slid 3% to 3,128, while the Nasdaq fell 2.8% to 8,965.
NEW DELHI —The sit-in where women had gathered to protest a new citizenship law was gone, the posters torn and trampled. The mosque next door stood charred and silent, its floor marked with smeared blood. Stillness filled a major road, empty except for stray dogs picking their way through debris.
A tense calm settled on a swath of India’s capital Wednesday after a stunning outbreak of communal violence this week left at least 22 dead. The riots are the worst such clashes to hit Delhi in decades and came as President Trump made his first official visit to India.
Mobs of Hindus and Muslims had clashed on roads and alleyways in northeast Delhi, throwing stones and crude gasoline bombs. At least four mosques were torched, as were scores of homes and businesses. Witnesses said that instead of stopping the violence, police joined crowds shouting Hindu nationalist slogans and fired indiscriminately.
President Donald Trump has stepped up his fight with the US judiciary, suggesting in a tweet Tuesday that two liberal justices on the Supreme Court should recuse themselves from cases involving him.
In the tweet from India, where he is on a state visit, Trump quoted the Fox News host Laura Ingraham, who claimed that Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor had accused justices appointed by the Trump administration of pro-Trump bias.
Trump’s attack on Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg alluded to criticism she made about Trump before his election in 2016, in which she told The New York Times that she was concerned at the prospect of his winning.
A former deputy to Attorney General William Barr during his tenure in the first Bush administration has written a new column assailing Barr’s intervention in the sentencing of Roger Stone, an associate of President Donald Trump.
In an article for Just Security, Stuart M. Gerson, who helmed the Justice Department’s civil division from 1989 to 1993, described Stone as “a crony of the president” whose assist from the department suggests a “whiff of favoritism.”
“Many citizens both inside and outside the Department of Justice are asking whether DOJ stands for the rule of law or for the rule of an authoritarian administration,” Gerson writes. “Adherence to the law and the Department’s traditions demands that it clearly be the former. There is no room for error or even the perception of it being otherwise.”
Trump has continued to assail both the jury foreperson and the U.S. district court judge assigned to Stone’s case, Amy Berman Jackson. From her perch on the bench, Jackson used the occasion of Stone’s sentencing—he ultimately received 40 months in prison—to defend the integrity of the trial she oversaw against outside criticism.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Trump administration can withhold millions of dollars in law enforcement grants to force states to cooperate with U.S. immigration enforcement, a federal appeals court in New York ruled Wednesday in a decision that conflicted with three other federal appeals courts.
The decision by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan overturned a lower court’s decision ordering the administration to release funding to New York City and seven states — New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Washington, Massachusetts, Virginia and Rhode Island.
In the past two years, federal appeals courts in Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco have ruled against the federal government by upholding lower-court injunctions placed on the enforcement of some or all of the challenged conditions.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday criticized Tesla Inc ‘s lack of system safeguards in a fatal March 2018 California Autopilot crash and U.S. regulators “scant oversight.”