Michael Klare: Climate Change as Genocide: Inaction Equals Annihilation

By Michael T. Klare, a TomDispatch regular, is a professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left. A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @mklare1. Originally published at TomDispatch

Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment. On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries — Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan — as well as in Yemen were likely to die if not provided with emergency food and medical aid. “We are at a critical point in history,” he declared. “Already at the beginning of the year we are facing the largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N.” Without coordinated international action, he added, “people will simply starve to death [or] suffer and die from disease.”

Major famines have, of course, occurred before, but never in memory on such a scale in four places simultaneously. According to O’Brien, 7.3 million people are at risk in Yemen, 5.1 million in the Lake Chad area of northeastern Nigeria, 5 million in South Sudan, and 2.9 million in Somalia. In each of these countries, some lethal combination of war, persistent drought, and political instability is causing drastic cuts in essential food and water supplies. Of those 20 million people at risk of death, an estimated 1.4 million are young children.

Despite the potential severity of the crisis, U.N. officials remain confident that many of those at risk can be saved if sufficient food and medical assistance is provided in time and the warring parties allow humanitarian aid workers to reach those in the greatest need. “We have strategic, coordinated, and prioritized plans in every country,” O’Brien said. “With sufficient and timely financial support, humanitarians can still help to prevent the worst-case scenario.”

All in all, the cost of such an intervention is not great: an estimated $4.4 billion to implement that U.N. action plan and save most of those 20 million lives.

The international response? Essentially, a giant shrug of indifference.

To have time to deliver sufficient supplies, U.N. officials indicated that the money would need to be in pocket by the end of March. It’s now April and international donors have given only a paltry $423 million — less than a tenth of what’s needed. While, for instance, President Donald Trump sought Congressional approval for a $54 billion increase in U.S. military spending (bringing total defense expenditures in the coming year to $603 billion) and launched $89 million worth of Tomahawk missiles against a single Syrian air base, the U.S. has offered precious little to allay the coming disaster in three countries in which it has taken military actions in recent years. As if to add insult to injury, on February 15th Trump told Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari that he was inclined to sell his country 12 Super-Tucano light-strike aircraft, potentially depleting Nigeria of $600 million it desperately needs for famine relief.

Moreover, just as those U.N. officials were pleading fruitlessly for increased humanitarian funding and an end to the fierce and complex set of conflicts in South Sudan and Yemen (so that they could facilitate the safe delivery of emergency food supplies to those countries), the Trump administration was announcing plans to reduce American contributions to the United Nations by 40%. It was also preparing to send additional weaponry to Saudi Arabia, the country most responsible for devastating air strikes on Yemen’s food and water infrastructure. This goes beyond indifference. This is complicity in mass extermination.

Like many people around the world, President Trump was horrified by images of young children suffocating from the nerve gas used by Syrian government forces in an April 4th raid on the rebel-held village of Khan Sheikhoun. “That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me — big impact,” he told reporters. “That was a horrible, horrible thing. And I’ve been watching it and seeing it, and it doesn’t get any worse than that.” In reaction to those images, he ordered a barrage of cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base the following day. But Trump does not seem to have seen — or has ignored — equally heart-rending  images of young children dying from the spreading famines in Africa and Yemen. Those children evidently don’t merit White House sympathy.

Who knows why not just Donald Trump but the world is proving so indifferent to the famines of 2017? It could simply be donor fatigue or a media focused on the daily psychodrama that is now Washington, or growing fears about the unprecedented global refugee crisis and, of course, terrorism. It’s a question worth a piece in itself, but I want to explore another one entirely.

Here’s the question I think we all should be asking: Is this what a world battered by climate change will be like — one in which tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of people perish from disease, starvation, and heat prostration while the rest of us, living in less exposed areas, essentially do nothing to prevent their annihilation?

Famine, Drought, and Climate Change

First, though, let’s consider whether the famines of 2017 are even a valid indicator of what a climate-changed planet might look like. After all, severe famines accompanied by widespread starvation have occurred throughout human history. In addition, the brutal armed conflicts now underway in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen are at least in part responsible for the spreading famines. In all four countries, there are forces — Boko Haram in Nigeria, al-Shabaab in Somalia, assorted militias and the government in South Sudan, and Saudi-backed forces in Yemen — interfering with the delivery of aid supplies. Nevertheless, there can be no doubt that pervasive water scarcity and prolonged drought (expected consequences of global warming) are contributing significantly to the disastrous conditions in most of them. The likelihood that droughts this severe would be occurring simultaneously in the absence of climate change is vanishingly small.

In fact, scientists generally agree that global warming will ensure diminished rainfall and ever more frequent droughts over much of Africa and the Middle East. This, in turn, will heighten conflicts of every sort and endanger basic survival in a myriad of ways. In their most recent 2014 assessment of global trends, the scientists of the prestigious Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concluded that “agriculture in Africa will face significant challenges in adapting to climate changes projected to occur by mid-century, as negative effects of high temperatures become increasingly prominent.” Even in 2014, as that report suggested, climate change was already contributing to water scarcity and persistent drought conditions in large parts of Africa and the Middle East. Scientific studies had, for instance, revealed an “overall expansion of desert and contraction of vegetated areas” on that continent. With arable land in retreat and water supplies falling, crop yields were already in decline in many areas, while malnutrition rates were rising — precisely the conditions witnessed in more extreme forms in the famine-affected areas today.

It’s seldom possible to attribute any specific weather-induced event, including droughts or storms, to global warming with absolute certainty. Such things happen with or without climate change. Nonetheless, scientists are becoming even more confident that severe storms and droughts (especially when occurring in tandem or in several parts of the world at once) are best explained as climate-change related. If, for instance, a type of storm that might normally occur only once every hundred years occurs twice in one decade and four times in the next, you can be reasonably confident that you’re in a new climate era.

It will undoubtedly take more time for scientists to determine to what extent the current famines in Africa and Yemen are mainly climate-change-induced and to what extent they are the product of political and military mayhem and disarray. But doesn’t this already offer us a sense of just what kind of world we are now entering?

History and social science research indicate that, as environmental conditions deteriorate, people will naturally compete over access to vital materials and the opportunists in any society — warlords, militia leaders, demagogues, government officials, and the like — will exploit such clashes for their personal advantage. “The data suggests a definite link between food insecurity and conflict,” points out Ertharin Cousin, head of the U.N.’s World Food Program. “Climate is an added stress factor.” In this sense, the current famines in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen provide us with a perfect template for our future, one in which resource wars and climate mayhem team up as temperatures continue their steady rise.

The Selective Impact of Climate Change

In some popular accounts of the future depredations of climate change, there is a tendency to suggest that its effects will be felt more or less democratically around the globe — that we will all suffer to some degree, if not equally, from the bad things that happen as temperatures rise. And it’s certainly true that everyone on this planet will feel the effects of global warming in some fashion, but don’t for a second imagine that the harshest effects will be distributed anything but deeply inequitably. It won’t even be a complicated equation. As with so much else, those at the bottom rungs of society — the poor, the marginalized, and those in countries already at or near the edge — will suffer so much more (and so much earlier) than those at the top and in the most developed, wealthiest countries.

As a start, the geophysical dynamics of climate change dictate that, when it comes to soaring temperatures and reduced rainfall, the most severe effects are likely to be felt first and worst in the tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Latin America — home to hundreds of millions of people who depend on rain-fed agriculture to sustain themselves and their families. Research conducted by scientists in New Zealand, Switzerland, and Great Britain found that the rise in the number of extremely hot days is already more intense in tropical latitudes and disproportionately affects poor farmers.

Living at subsistence levels, such farmers and their communities are especially vulnerable to drought and desertification. In a future in which climate-change disasters are commonplace, they will undoubtedly be forced to choose ever more frequently between the unpalatable alternatives of starvation or flight. In other words, if you thought the global refugee crisis was bad today, just wait a few decades.

Climate change is also intensifying the dangers faced by the poor and marginalized in another way. As interior croplands turn to dust, ever more farmers are migrating to cities, especially coastal ones. If you want a historical analogy, think of the great Dust Bowl migration of the “Okies” from the interior of the U.S. to the California coast in the 1930s. In today’s climate-change era, the only available housing such migrants are likely to find will be in vast and expanding shantytowns (or “informal settlements,” as they’re euphemistically called), often located in floodplains and low-lying coastal areas exposed to storm surges and sea-level rise. As global warming advances, the victims of water scarcity and desertification will be afflicted anew. Those storm surges will destroy the most exposed parts of the coastal mega-cities in which they will be clustered. In other words, for the uprooted and desperate, there will be no escaping climate change. As the latest IPCC report noted, “Poor people living in urban informal settlements, of which there are [already] about one billion worldwide, are particularly vulnerable to weather and climate effects.”

The scientific literature on climate change indicates that the lives of the poor, the marginalized, and the oppressed will be the first to be turned upside down by the effects of global warming. “The socially and economically disadvantaged and the marginalized are disproportionately affected by the impacts of climate change and extreme events,” the IPCC indicated in 2014. “Vulnerability is often high among indigenous peoples, women, children, the elderly, and disabled people who experience multiple deprivations that inhibit them from managing daily risks and shocks.” It should go without saying that these are also the people least responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming in the first place (something no less true of the countries most of them live in).

Inaction Equals Annihilation

In this context, consider the moral consequences of inaction on climate change. Once it seemed that the process of global warming would occur slowly enough to allow societies to adapt to higher temperatures without excessive disruption, and that the entire human family would somehow make this transition more or less simultaneously. That now looks more and more like a fairy tale. Climate change is occurring far too swiftly for all human societies to adapt to it successfully. Only the richest are likely to succeed in even the most tenuous way. Unless colossal efforts are undertaken now to halt the emission of greenhouse gases, those living in less affluent societies can expect to suffer from extremes of flooding, drought, starvation, disease, and death in potentially staggering numbers.

And you don’t need a Ph.D. in climatology to arrive at this conclusion either. The overwhelming majority of the world’s scientists agree that any increase in average world temperatures that exceeds 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above the pre-industrial era — some opt for a rise of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius — will alter the global climate system drastically. In such a situation, a number of societies will simply disintegrate in the fashion of South Sudan today, producing staggering chaos and misery. So far, the world has heated up by at least one of those two degrees, and unless we stop burning fossil fuels in quantity soon, the 1.5 degree level will probably be reached in the not-too-distant future.

Worse yet, on our present trajectory, it seems highly unlikely that the warming process will stop at 2 or even 3 degrees Celsius, meaning that later in this century many of the worst-case climate-change scenarios — the inundation of coastal cities, the desertification of vast interior regions, and the collapse of rain-fed agriculture in many areas — will become everyday reality.

In other words, think of the developments in those three African lands and Yemen as previews of what far larger parts of our world could look like in another quarter-century or so: a world in which hundreds of millions of people are at risk of annihilation from disease or starvation, or are on the march or at sea, crossing borders, heading for the shantytowns of major cities, looking for refugee camps or other places where survival appears even minimally possible. If the world’s response to the current famine catastrophe and the escalating fears of refugees in wealthy countries are any indication, people will die in vast numbers without hope of help.

In other words, failing to halt the advance of climate change — to the extent that halting it, at this point, remains within our power — means complicity with mass human annihilation. We know, or at this point should know, that such scenarios are already on the horizon. We still retain the power, if not to stop them, then to radically ameliorate what they will look like, so our failure to do all we can means that we become complicit in what — not to mince words — is clearly going to be a process of climate genocide. How can those of us in countries responsible for the majority of greenhouse gas emissions escape such a verdict?

And if such a conclusion is indeed inescapable, then each of us must do whatever we can to reduce our individual, community, and institutional contributions to global warming. Even if we are already doing a lot — as many of us are — more is needed. Unfortunately, we Americans are living not only in a time of climate crisis, but in the era of President Trump, which means the federal government and its partners in the fossil fuel industry will be wielding their immense powers to obstruct all imaginable progress on limiting global warming. They will be the true perpetrators of climate genocide. As a result, the rest of us bear a moral responsibility not just to do what we can at the local level to slow the pace of climate change, but also to engage in political struggle to counteract or neutralize the acts of Trump and company. Only dramatic and concerted action on multiple fronts can prevent the human disasters now unfolding in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen from becoming the global norm.

[Note: On Saturday, April 29th, folks from all over the United States will participate in the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. You can get information on the march by clicking here. Joining the march, or otherwise supporting its objectives, is a good way to begin the resistance to climate genocide. For those who wish to aid the victims of famine in Africa and Yemen, donations can be made to the U.N.’s World Food Program by clicking here.]

Copyright 2017 Michael T. Klare

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  1. Synoia

    On March 10th, Stephen O’Brien, under secretary-general of the United Nations for humanitarian affairs, informed the Security Council that 20 million people in three African countries — Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan

    Perhaps they could start by confiscating Nigerian owned assets bought with stolen oil revenues. That Nigerians are at risk is disgraceful. It is a rich and fertile country that used to and now should should be able to care for its population.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Nigeria is far away. We have plenty of people in our own country living in increasingly dire straits. Slow disaster through climate change — devastation through economic decline — criminally poor sharing of wealth and privilege — you don’t have to look so far as Nigeria to find it. The emotion and rationale and your proposed action for helping Nigeria or Somalia or South Sudan cannot be allowed — too easily those tools might be applied at home. Our lords will not lift a hand … and would never tolerate uncontrolled actions by any of our class. Send a dollar to CARE.

  2. Thuto Bhunu

    A compelling read, one that will unfortunately embolden the efforts of the biggest polluters to double down on sabotaging any attempts to curb their polluting ways. How? Well, a large carbon footprint often infers a proportionally large accumulated wealth and as the article suggests that the effects of global warming will be felt first and most severely by the poor and downtrodden, what incentive will be there for the polluters, believing that their wealth will insulate them, to change their ways, to say nothing of increasing their funding towards climate change denialism?

  3. VK

    study the cia factbooks re countries with the highest reproduction-dynamics and e.g. oil-consumption otoh and you’ll know why there are famines and wars where they are past and present.
    Nothing there happens by chance or bad luck.
    The people ‘owning’ this planet are a very determined malthusian lot.

    1. Disturbed Voter

      Die fast one the one hand, die slow on the other. Reduce population to one billion or else, now or later. We can do this by stopping civilization in its tracks, that billions depend on for survival, or do this gradually by polluting and overheating. Direct or indirect … voluntary or involuntary. I vote for indirect and involuntary. Near extinction either way … but I don’t consider indirect killing to be genocide, only the direct kind.

      The human population exceeded the carrying capacity over 100 years ago … we have been kept going by cheap fossil fuels and fiat money. But you have to pay the piper eventually.

      1. Vatch

        I would much prefer that population reduction be accomplished voluntarily, by greatly expanding the use of effective family planning. Of course, that runs directly into the brick walls of backward conservative religious doctrine and political nationalism. Religious leaders want more faithful followers, and political leaders want more cannon fodder.

        1. tony

          They are not backwards. They understand that for their group to survive it must compete with other groups. If they lack their own country, this is an issue, even more so if the country has democratic institutions. That is Erdogan and many Muslim clerics preach high birthrates, and this is why the evangelicals etc are winning. The simple act of giving birth secures them access to more political power, and more resources handed to them by the state bureacracy.

          High birthrates have for almost all of history been a necessity for survival of a groups in competition, and there under democracy that is probably more true than ever.

          1. JTMcPhee

            Kind of funny that Palestinians have been out-birthing the Israelites (see the first seven books of the Old Testament for why that label is fitting)… though the prison regimen in Gaza and the West Bank, of barely sufficient calories, constant harassment and fear, and regular “mowing the lawn” by the IDF, and the casual murders by what are called for some reason “settlers,” rather than invaders, are making some inroads…

            Come to think of it, didn’t us Exceptional “Birth of a Nation” white folk refer to our people who displaced and killed the native populations here, as “settlers” also?

          2. a different chris

            No it has been a necessity in order for their leaders to stir them up to go to war. The outcomes have varied.

      2. Tony Wright

        That’s it. The two fundamental problems are too many people, and an economic system addicted to growth.
        You can probably add human corruption too.
        The primary symptoms: war/conflict, increased disease, famine and anthropogenic climate change. Apart from climate change these are the fundamental consequences of overpopulation as applicable to any species.
        Fundamental changes required:
        First and foremost: no more than two children per woman. Full stop. Call out and condemn religions that encourage more. Educate all women – they have less children.
        No more fossil fuel use – we have an enormous nuclear reactor(the Sun) 93 million miles away to provide all the energy we need, with all waste recycled on site.
        Get off this addiction to growth – more is not better, but we have lost this value judgement.
        Use biologically derived packaging, not plastics which are choking so many marine animals to extinction.
        Since the days of Live Aid in 1985 the population of Ethiopia has increased 40%, so providing food just makes the fundamental problems worse. Provide education and contraceptives instead.
        Maybe the Spoilt Brat in the White House will solve the immediate problem by war. But how much better to do it by stopping human population growth?
        That way we just might retain a planet worth living on.

        1. a different chris

          You have my vote. But I voted for Jill Stein, and the frell lot of good that did.

      3. Thor's Hammer

        PLANET EARTH 2000–2200

        —-The permanently sustainable global carrying capacity of the planet without energy inputs from fossil fuels is likely around one billion humans. All of industrial civilization and the exponential population growth that has occurred in the past two centuries is based upon low cost fossil fuel energy.

        —-Fossil fuel supplies are finite: They are at or near their maximum extraction rate and will enter inevitable decline in the near future.

        —-Fossil fuel as an energy source cannot be replaced by renewables with anything like their energy density, trans-portability, and low market cost. Renewables can power an advanced human civilization— just one not anything like the one we have created over the past two centuries.

        —-Energy from nuclear fission is incapable of replacing fossil fuel energy at planetary scale, and is a Pandora’s box that humans have thus far preferred to open to build weapons of mass destruction.

        —-Climate change on the order of +2 degrees centigrade is already unavoidable even if the present economic system were to collapse.

        —- If the remaining planetary fossil fuels that can be accessed are burned the result will be dead oceans from CO2 absorption and runaway greenhouse planetary heating.

        —-The next great planetary Extinction event is already well underway as a result of human activity, and will likely result in the loss of 50% of the planet’s species.

        —- Nothing in human history indicates that homo sapiens are capable of collective wisdom or action at a scale necessary to change the path of events.


        —- The human species, along with most of the inhabitants of the planet will experience a massive die-off down to some number that is sustainable or will go extinct like so many species have in the past.

  4. JTMcPhee

    ” the world’s response…” Unwarranted personification.

    “We” are 7.21 billion individuals, most of “us” looking out for themselves, way too many of “us” wanting “a bigger share of the pie.” As if the carrying capacity of the planet is something “we” are entitled to divvy up, because the Bible says “you shall have dominion” or something, or just because humans are really good at justifying, or just not giving a rip about the effects of, their vast taking and reducing to ownership and “utility” the stuff that lets “us” keep on grabbing for the most of what some are finally beginning to see is really a finite set of the stuff of life.

    And “We,” or way too many of us, understand or believe that the pace at which all this badness is going to happen is such that it will not matter at all, or only marginally, to us as individuals,, and if “we” are really sharp, like even some of the people “we” encounter in progressive blogspace, “we” may even find a way to get even more of the stuff that “we” value as the emoluments of a “life lived really large.”

    So let “us” tsk and nod sagely and feel woeful for “all those people who are going to suffer and die,” but maybe there’s more to the notion that “it won;t happen to me, while I am alive to suffer from it” than any kind of impetus to the kind of collective understandings and actions that people like Michael Klare are saying are necessary… Because there are all these other elements of the whole cancerous presence of humankind that it’s incumbent on us to perceive and comment on…

    Because, after all, what can “we” do to prevent it, besides start petitions and go to marches, and maybe have enough wealth to buy solar panels for our roofs and batteries for our garages and buy an all-electric vidhicle to travel at will from here to there and back again, and maybe even put flow restrictors in the four “tropical rainfall” shower heads in our spa showers… Because some of “us” put on their $5,000 suits and bespoke shoes and heft their luxury briefcases and go off to work, every single workday, figuring out new ways to loot and oppress and get more for “ourselves…”

    1. Art Eclectic

      You can do nothing to prevent it. The apparatus of world governance is fully captured by money, just like the USA political system. Not only is the carry capacity of the planet stretched, we have an over supply of labor for the technological future. There will be a massive population reduction, it’s not an if. Excess labor creates instability and over time that instability becomes a powder keg waiting for someone to say “let them eat cake” and out come the guillotines.

      Wars are costly and unpopular, they also threaten major cities where the money of the world lives and invests. If you want to downsize the excess labor without damaging the investments of the real money, you let an opioid epidemic rage unchecked in regions with excess labor. You ignore famine and or other disease outbreaks in regions with excess labor. Anti-vaxxer movements are creating a laboratory for diseases we once had under control, they’ll eventually take out another chunk of your excess labor.

      1. different clue

        As the saying goes . ..

        If the Global Overclass wanted to kill 6 billion people and make it look like an accident, how would they do it?

      2. Tony Wright

        I think you might have just hit a nail on the head. Maybe the relatively sudden push to legalise cannabis has a more Machiavellian motive:
        In 1970s there was an Australian band called Skyhooks (RIP Shirley) who wrote a song with the lyrics:
        “Whatever Happened to the Revolution?
        We all got Stoned and it Drifted Away…..”
        So maybe it’s all just a plot by the Elites to keep us all pacified, ( and make a few millions on the side of course).

  5. Susan the other

    At this point, with so much devastation already happening as a result of overpopulation, greedy, filthy habits and absolutely no clue how to make the planet sustainable, we simply need to be far more focused and organized. This isn’t a cocktail party. The UN operates on donations and helping people over the hard times but the UN wasn’t designed to literally save the world and that is what is needed. I agree more and more with those people who have advocated a full mobilization of resources as if for the next world war. That is what it will take to simultaneously prevent starvation; dislocation; desertification; flooding; pollution; and being smothered in our own garbage. And all of these tragedies come together in a synergy that could defeat us if we don’t get organized. Prevent the devastation and create new ways of living. I actually think the big corporations are doing more than the UN to change the way we live, but it is not enough. This is not something that the “free market” can do in a care free hit or miss fashion. It really is an emergency. The world needs triage today to fix the worst situations, of course. But it is easily as important to find and create the alternatives we need. It’s not that the UN isn’t a good forum for convincing people to think and act in positive ways. It is. But when it’s all hands on deck, the UN is pretty much a day late. There is a long list of the things we need to stop doing in addition to a moratorium on fossil fuels. Stop producing toxic chemicals; stop building dangerous nuclear power plants; stop dumping all our crap in the oceans. That requires dedication and probably some enforcement. But we are so idiotic we think we can’t interfere with treaties and contracts, as if those contracts were sacred. They are not. Somebody please tell the President.

    1. JEHR

      Yes, yes and yes. Perhaps the UN should rotate the five permanent members of the security council every two years or so which could mean that things can get done every three years when the obstructionists are absent. (Perhaps all the billionaires could give 10% of their great wealth to the UN for a ribbon of merit. sarc)

      1. Disturbed Voter

        In Greco-Roman times, the voluntary donation of large sums to the common good, by the rich was called “leiturgia” from which we get “liturgy”. In late Christian Rome, this should have been “from each according to their means, to each according to their needs” as in the early Jerusalem Jewish Church … but that had already been discarded, long before Constantine. If the donations by the rich were voluntary … then it isn’t a tax, it is charity. But humans are uncharitable. Like Rockefeller, we think we are charitable if we give dimes to handicapped children.

        1. Vatch

          Yeah, but those dimes were 90% silver, and were worth a dollar or two in today’s money!

          Sorry, I emitted a bit of sarcasm, but it was directed towards Ramses the mummy John D. Rockefeller, not you, Disturbed Voter.

    2. Kalen

      Not exactly, contracts with labor have been trashed, only contracts oligarchy benefits from are considered sacred.

      Also I do not like using “we” mantra. It is not “we” ordinary people who shaped the reality of the world for 200 years but vested oligarchic interests that shaped the economy, society and politics in a unsustainable way to destroy the global ecology for their own profit while threatening or manipulating people to become tools in this destruction solely for oligarchic benefit.

      Recycling, conservation etc., OK but after the oligarchy who is solely responsible for the carnage in eradicated as a necessary feat of sustainability of the very life on Earth.

    3. mpalomar

      “I actually think the big corporations are doing more than the UN to change the way we live, but it is not enough. This is not something that the “free market” can do in a care free hit or miss fashion.”
      -From the article, the, “fossil fuel industry will be wielding their immense powers to obstruct all imaginable progress on limiting global warming. They will be the true perpetrators of climate genocide. “

      Corporate responsibility as far as global commons policy and actions, if past history is a guide, should probably be evaluated with extreme skepticism. It is not just the fossil fuel industry that is culpable or misguided, agri-industry players like Cargill and Monsanto, tech companies flooding the planet with disposable gadgets, the auto industry, mining companies, all bear responsibility as they have largely resisted from the beginning and continue to resist environmental activist’s attempts to reign in the excesses of the ecocide by market directed capitalism.

      “It is easily as important to find and create the alternatives we need. It’s not that the UN isn’t a good forum for convincing people to think and act in positive ways. It is. But when it’s all hands on deck, the UN is pretty much a day late.”
      -Day late because that’s the way the US wants it. TPTB don’t like effective democratic government at any level and are usually busy sabotaging democratic interests when they conflict with their own. The UN and other international governing and regulatory bodies have been captured by the US imperial project. The Permanent Members of the UN Security Council emulate the obstructive practices of the US when their diverse aims and interests are at stake. Institutionalized dysfunction is the order of the day.

      Serious independent, multilateral policies to engage the various problems facing the planet; famine, war, overpopulation, etc. are typically sidetracked or otherwise obstructed. Yet an effective democratically guided, international body with power to confront the impending apocalypse is likely the only effective means of confronting the large, global disruptions we are likely to encounter because of climate change.

      If at this stage in the well understood event, an intensive and coordinated international effort has not been even approximated, it seems that the planet is likely toast.

      1. VK

        Serious independent, multilateral policies to engage the various problems facing the planet; famine, war, overpopulation, etc. are typically sidetracked or otherwise obstructed.

        anecdotal: About fourteen years ago Heinberg’s “The Party is over” was quite an eye-opener to me. When I did a quick search via goggle under that title, I received hundreds of links to the sequel to american graffiti. That answers imho the question of priorities…

        Yet an effective democratically guided, international body with power to confront the impending apocalypse is likely the only effective means of confronting the large, global disruptions we are likely to encounter because of climate change.

        Which international body would dare to set the question of ‘private property of means of production’ on the agenda again?

        1. Susan the other

          Which international body…? That’s just it, isn’t it. It might well be a consortium of indirect private interests – of the most able militaries. Say us, Russia, the EU, China. Because that’s what warriors are good at – when all else has failed they at least try to change things altogether; screw the contracts and the petty paralysis.

  6. Vatch

    Not since World War II have more human beings been at risk from disease and starvation than at this very moment.

    From 1958 through 1962, nearly the entire population of China was at risk of starvation during the utterly incompetent Great Leap Forward. Tens of millions of Chinese died prematurely during that time.

    1. JTMcPhee

      …and what are called “Native Americans” got pretty well exterminated. But that, I guess, was actually “competent,” since planned and intended. Lots of other examples, all over the place. No egregious, externality-shedding profit in comity and commensalism…

      Humans pretty much suck.

      1. Vatch

        My point was that the current crisis is not the first time since WWII that there has been an enormous risk of famine. Tens of millions died in 1958-1962, and although I said it was due to incompetence, it was only in the first year that incompetence could be blamed. After that, it was pure malice on the part of Mao, because the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party knew what was happening.

  7. different clue

    And speaking of genocide, that article a while ago about “China plans world’s biggest national park in Tibet” is predicting a spot-focus genocide against the remaining people and culture of Tibet, even though the authors may not realize it.

    It is the Buddhist Nomads of Tibet who managed themselves and their domestic animals in such a way that The Tibetan Plateau still has viable wild-animal-and-plant ecosystems at all. The Tibetan Nomads are a live-action demonstration of how to make a human living without destroying the resource-substrate system those humans make a living from.

    But is the Great Han Chauvinist majority of China grateful? No, it is not. This National Park plan is designed to round up all the Tibetans from Tibet and pack them into reservations and city slums in order to erase their culture and thereby erase their ethnic-national existence in their land. It is also designed to get as many of them as possible to die in order to breed the demoralized survivors out of existence in a sea of Great Han Lebensraum Chinese Settlers.

    Pray that not one Tibetan gives in to extortionate pressure to marry so much as one single Chinese. The Great Han Lebensraumists do not deserve the benefit of Tibetan low-oxygen-tolerance genetics. The Great Han Lebensraumists have filled their own toilet. Let them swim in it. Or flush themselves down it as they see fit.

  8. clarky90

    “Folks” from all over the USA will fly to Washington to protest climate change? Most “folks” can’t afford the airfare and the time off work.

      1. clarky90

        It’s not “folk” who are causing climate change, it is the top 10℅, the very people who can take the time to fly to protests. Will many protesters be coming by private jet? My guess is more than a few.

        1. Vatch

          Another good point, Clarky90! Phone calls won’t generate greenhouse gases, but travel to DC will.

  9. UserFriendly

    Here’s the question I think we all should be asking: Is this what a world battered by climate change will be like — one in which tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of people perish from disease, starvation, and heat prostration while the rest of us, living in less exposed areas, essentially do nothing to prevent their annihilation?

    Yes, without a doubt. Human extinction is the only solution.

    We live in a faux democracy where there is absolutely no effect people can have on their government unless they have a 9 digit bank account. TPTB have completely neutered every single avenue for recourse against them. There is no such thing as facts any more. News sources are blatantly partisan; I doubt you could get Breitbart and the NYT to agree on what day of the week it is much less who is responsible for bankrupting the middle class or what we should do to stop millions of poor people starving to death in Africa. Neither Side is willing to admit fault. Ever. On anything.

    Just look at Shattered, Clinton is running around pointing fingers at everyone from millennials to Putin to Comey. We as a society have let the elites pass the buck when it comes to blame on absolutely everything. Just how badly does Donna Brazile need to be caught red handed cheating for Hillary before she faces any consequences? How many of those feckless Dem consultants that created Ada are looking for a new career after their colossal family blog up? Or Obama’s hope and change that amounted to nothing but a blank check and get out of jail free card for the scum that destroyed the worlds economy; yet you could fill a bathtub and drown yourself in all the pathetic hagiographies to him.

    Is Trump going to face any consequences for campaigning with Ron Paul’s FP only to turn into Dick Cheney within a month or two? What about Trumps promise to Drain the swamp only to fill it up with the greedy self serving bankers that blew up the economy and profited off the destruction of the middle class? No. There is not a single damn one of them that will ever face the consequences for the lives they destroy.

    Now is the point in the movie where the elite spy goes around and kills all the evil corrupt bankers and politicians. I can’t wait for that. And short of that; Human extinction is the only solution.

  10. Jeremy Grimm

    Global Warming — among other darknesses blotting our futures demand the concerted actions of nations and large organizations of people. But it’s grown too late in the day to hold on to such lost hope. There will be no action to slow Global Warming and no action to mitigate the impacts of Global Warming until some looming disaster demands organized action and even then the action will probably be military and not a positive action. We hold such mitigations as there may be in our hands as individuals. We must save our families, our friends and as much of the knowledge and culture we possess as we can and work to preserve and propagate them into the future … with hope there will be a future.

  11. ambrit

    A quibble if I may.
    The Super Tucano aircraft is base priced at 10.6 million dollars. Twelve of them would cost 131.2 million dollars. Even with the add ons and maintenance contracts, 600 million dollars is a stretch. Does the author know something about some of the specifics of the venality plaguing “The D.C. Beltway” that the rest of us do not?
    Curiously, the aircrafts’ manufacturer, Embraer, is from Brazil. An assembly plant was situated somewhere in the United States to give political cover to America for preferring a foreign airplane over the domestic competition. Everything I have read says that the Tucano line of aircraft is the best around for the tasks it is designed for, and cheap to boot.
    So, beware of the “mysterious” communication from the Nigerian “Prince” who needs your help in moving some money into America to “pay for my countries much needed aircrafts.”

  12. Rosario

    Beside the call to aid and the exposing of world leader indifference at the beginning, I think this article could have been argued a little better. It reads like it is appropriating these crises solely to promote radical action to address climate change (which I do not oppose) while largely not discussing the primary cause, war, of which the West is playing a large part in either promoting via proxy (Nigeria, South Sudan) or engaging in directly (Somalia, Yemen).

    It is best to recognize that the primary cause of these famines is war, climate change is merely exacerbating the problem. To point, many of these conflicts are directly related to the West’s War on Terror. AFRICOM and joint operations in North Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen have done far more to ruin lives in these countries than drought since the early 2000s. Droughts which many of these regions have seen on-and-off for decades and from which the people in these regions have been able to survive well enough when not at war (though that is getting more difficult with climate change). Similar could be said of Ethiopia in the 80s, the primary cause of famine was war, violent displacement, etc. the periodic droughts hitting at the right (wrong) time made it worse.

    This is not to say climate change should not be addressed radically, but opposing war should be done so just as much, particularly when the West has a hand in them.

  13. paul Tioxon


    The video of the waterfalls is from Antarctica. The article from NATURE is the work of Columbia’s Earth Institute. As they have said previously, the damage is done. Over 250 years of burning wood, coal, crude oil, natural gas for the industrial revolution of Western Civilization has set this motion. The rest of the world may have joined more recently since the end of WWII, but the consequences we see today were a long time in the making.

    In the United States of America, the Republican Party is an existential threat to humanity and much of the planetary ecosystem of life. The Texas Oil Cartel and the OPEC Cartel will not give up their demands for tribute or rent if you like, in the form of all us buying their products so we can drive around, stay warm or cool, as the case may be. The forward motion of Solar Power, as proposed in the Democratic Party’s platform will be slowed to a crawl with only market forces of the incredibly cheap alternatives crowding out the last few hundred coal burning plants in the US. The hoped for Electric Vehicle to displace the internal combustion engine is delayed, just as justice was once denied. And the great diplomatic achievement of the United Nations to work in unity with all of the nations of world formally ratifying the Climate Change goals set forth in COP21, are about to be burned to the ground by the Trump Administration. I understand that it is all a Chinese Hoax and President Trump will use his pen to Make America Great Again by turning back all of the progress to fight carbon emissions, including killing our support for the world wide accord.


    On the local level, the demands for school districts and county and city public property to adopt solar power as much as possible is an ongoing bright spot. I would urge all of the readers of this site to drop much of their wasted time researching stuff and get involved with local political action that is fielding local candidates in a tidal wave of grass roots activity. Of course, if you see no tidal wave around you, become the tidal wave yourself.



    The above letter is good news/bad news. The good news, arctic ice shelves may not break up by the disintegrating force of melting ice forming huge pools of water on their surface causing unsupportable weight of liquid crushing the ice containing it. The bad news, the extent of the melting is greater than previously thought, the water running off of the sides of the ice shelves forming massive rivers that turn into massive waterfalls that are draining directly into the ocean.

    Stay tuned.

  14. From Cold Mountain

    Climate change will stop human caused climate change because it will stop humans.

    Ask me why I should try to help stop it or slow climate change? So middle class people will be comfortable for a bit longer?

    So we can “save our species”? I claim not clairvoyance in regards to the purpose of our evolution so why should I assume it is destiny that humanity be saved?

    No thanks. I am regressing, childless, back into infancy, to forget all of this, to just forget, to live simply, and move when I have to move. I will let all of you fuss and fret for nothing.

  15. thom prentice

    Yes. The current Climate CATASTROPHE and Climate EMERGENCY from GLOBAL HEATING is, indeed, slow-motion genocide.

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