Most of us on this site are well aware that climate change impacts will exacerbate marginal living in poor and desperate nations particularly those in Africa, South Asia and the Middle East. These humanitarian and natural disaster impacts will be occurring in multiple places all around the world, possibly occurring all at once and on a scale human civilization has never seen before. But what about the developed world, particularly the United States? National Security and the threat of Climate Change prepared by CNA and released in 2007 with an advisory board of 11 of the country’s top retired generals and admirals summarizes those threats and how the military will need to adapt.
The report finds that in the US, security threats will consist of an unimaginable need for worldwide humanitarian aid and increasing migrations to the US from our neighbors to the south. This does not take into account that we will be dealing with our own catastrophic climate change impacts. There will be scarcity of water and melting of glaciers which currently provide water for millions of people. Drought and decreased rainfall will cause more severe droughts and devastate food production.
For example, the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides 27% of the irrigated land in this country, is very stressed from human impact. The water table level is down 100 feet in some areas. Three of the top grain producing states, Texas, Kansas and Nebraska each get 70 to 90% of their water from the Ogallala which will be stressed even further with the predicted lack of rainfall. The Colorado River Basin, the source of water for 10’s of millions of people, is already experiencing reduced river flow. The World Meteorological Organization predicts an increase in tropical hurricane speed strength and increased rainfall amounts potentially devastating coasts up and down the eastern seaboard, GoM, and the Caribbean as the climate continues to bake.
From Earth Island Journal:
“As greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, opposition to the fossil fuel industry has taken on a more urgent and confrontational tone. Some anti-fracking activists have engaged in nonviolent civil disobedience and the protests against the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline have involved arrests at the White House. Environmentalists and civil libertarians worry that accusations of terrorism, even if completely unfounded, could undermine peaceful political protest. The mere possibility of surveillance could handicap environmental groups’ ability to achieve their political goals. “You are painting the political opposition as supporters of terrorism to discredit them and cripple their ability to remain politically viable,” says Mike German, an FBI special agent for 16 years who now works with the ACLU”
Given this information the Department of Defense has created the Minerva Initiative.“The Minerva Initiative is a DoD-sponsored, university-based social science research initiative launched by the Secretary of Defense that focuses on areas of strategic importance to U.S. national security policy. Its objectives are to foster and improve the Defense Department’s social science intellectual capital in order to address future security challenges and to build bridges between the Department of Defense and the academic social science community. Minerva will do this by bringing together universities, research institutions, and individual scholars; and by supporting multidisciplinary and cross-institutional projects addressing specific topic areas determined by the Department.”
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.”Unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic “emergency” or “civil disturbance”
“Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances.”
Other documents show that the “extraordinary emergencies” the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.
In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:
“Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response.”
Two years later, the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Army Modernisation Strategydescribed the arrival of a new “era of persistent conflict” due to competition for “depleting natural resources and overseas markets” fuelling “future resource wars over water, food and energy.” The report predicted a resurgence of:
“… anti-government and radical ideologies that potentially threaten government stability.”
In the same year, a report by the US Army’s Strategic Studies Institute warned that a series of domestic crises could provoke large-scale civil unrest. The path to “disruptive domestic shock” could include traditional threats such as deployment of WMDs, alongside “catastrophic natural and human disasters” or “pervasive public health emergencies” coinciding with “unforeseen economic collapse.” Such crises could lead to “loss of functioning political and legal order” leading to “purposeful domestic resistance or insurgency…
“DoD might be forced by circumstances to put its broad resources at the disposal of civil authorities to contain and reverse violent threats to domestic tranquility. Under the most extreme circumstances, this might include use of military force against hostile groups inside the United States. Further, DoD would be, by necessity, an essential enabling hub for the continuity of political authority in a multi-state or nationwide civil conflict or disturbance.”
That year, the Pentagon had begun developing a 20,000 strong troop force who would be on-hand to respond to “domestic catastrophes” and civil unrest – the programme was reportedly based on a 2005 homeland security strategy which emphasised “preparing for multiple, simultaneous mass casualty incidents.”
The following year, a US Army-funded RAND Corp study called for a US force presence specifically to deal with civil unrest.
Such fears were further solidified in a detailed 2010 study by the US Joint Forces Command – designed to inform “joint concept development and experimentation throughout the Department of Defense” – setting out the US military’s definitive vision for future trends and potential global threats. Climate change, the study said, would lead to increased risk of:
“… tsunamis, typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural catastrophes… Furthermore, if such a catastrophe occurs within the United States itself – particularly when the nation’s economy is in a fragile state or where US military bases or key civilian infrastructure are broadly affected – the damage to US security could be considerable.”
The study also warned of a possible shortfall in global oil output by 2015:
“A severe energy crunch is inevitable without a massive expansion of production and refining capacity. While it is difficult to predict precisely what economic, political, and strategic effects such a shortfall might produce, it surely would reduce the prospects for growth in both the developing and developed worlds. Such an economic slowdown would exacerbate other unresolved tensions.”
That year the DoD’s Quadrennial Defense Review seconded such concerns, while recognising that “climate change, energy security, and economic stability are inextricably linked.”
Privatization of intelligence just happens to coincide with “increasing domestic surveillance operations against political activists, particularly those linked to environmental and social justice protest groups”.
NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden was a computer systems administrator for Booz Allen Hamilton, where he directly handled the NSA’s IT systems, including the Prism surveillance system. According to Booz Allen’s 2011 Annual Report, the corporation has overseen Unified Quest “for more than a decade” to help “military and civilian leaders envision the future.”
Department of Homeland Security documents released in April prove a “systematic effort” by the agency “to surveil and disrupt peaceful demonstrations” linked to Occupy Wall Street, according to the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF).Similarly, FBI documents confirmed “a strategic partnership between the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security and the private sector” designed to produce intelligence on behalf of “the corporate security community.” A PCJF spokesperson remarked that the documents show “federal agencies functioning as a de facto intelligence arm of Wall Street and Corporate America.”
In particular, domestic surveillance has systematically targeted peaceful environment activists including anti-fracking activists across the US, such as the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition, Rising Tide North America, the People’s Oil & Gas Collaborative, and Greenpeace.
I have often suspected that the increase in intelligence such as spying on American citizens, the crackdown on OWS and the militarization of our local police forces is no coincidence. The government is indeed preparing, with the help of the 1%, to crush the inevitable angry pushback against the government and the corporations once the climate change shit hits the fan. Nafeez Ahmed concludes his article as follows.
The Pentagon knows that environmental, economic and other crises could provoke widespread public anger toward government and corporations in coming years. The revelations on the NSA’s global surveillance programmes are just the latest indication that as business as usual creates instability at home and abroad, and as disillusionment with the status quo escalates, Western publics are being increasingly viewed as potential enemies that must be policed by the state.
[Editor’s note: You can skip as the author recommends below, but if you are an activist you will want to listen to the part about the Minerva program that studies peaceful protesters and then lumps them with violent protesters.]
The entire video is fascinating, but you can skip to the 4:37 mark for the discussion on the Pentagon’s preparation for societal collapse due to climate change.[youtube=http://youtu.be/0zb1u_ySWQc]