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Volume 69, Issue 154, Thursday, July 15, 2004

Opinion
 

Drastic climate change a threat to freedom

by Matthew Clement

In October 2003, the Pentagon quietly issued a report called "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security." The report covered two related issues in regards to global climate change. It hypothesized the social upheaval that would follow a dramatic and permanent change in the Earth's climate, and it demonstrated why understanding global climate change is essential to national security.

Human behavior is altering the climate, and even the government is taking notice. "The basic physical understanding of nature tells us that the Earth will go through significant changes in the climate because we are substantially changing the composition of the atmosphere," explained UH professor Daewon Byun, who specializes in atmospheric science.

Even in Houston, the evidence of climate change is easy to see. The city has received nearly 45 inches of rain in the first six months of this year. That makes it the wettest first six months on Houston's record, along with the second-wettest June on record (behind 2001, when Tropical Storm Allison attempted to turn Houston into a lake). To put it in perspective, by this time of the year Houston normally has received about 24 inches of rain; almost double that has fallen already. Add to that the fact that the three hottest years on record came after 1997, and there's a problem.

With these facts in mind, the Department of Defense issued a report to evaluate what would happen in the event of abrupt global climate change. How do food, water and energy shortages that presumably will be caused by abrupt climate change affect national security? The Pentagon report hypothesizes scarce resources might lead to increasing political conflict between nations.

It is reasonable, however, that the Pentagon cares about global climate change for other reasons. A brief review of one of the report's authors hints at less innocent intentions than "national security."

Peter Schwartz, who co-founded of the Global Business Network in addition to his contribution to the Pentagon report, has long been a cheerleader for big corporations. In retrospect, it would seem the 1999 book he co-wrote, The Long Boom, was written to convince consumers that the economy would just keep growing despite a catastrophic event. With his and others' praise, we continued to keep buying with some sense of security.

Unfortunately, it seems likely that the real motivation behind this report is corporate security. The question the report seems to seek to answer is, "How do big corporations maintain their oligopoly of power (shared with government) when the weather goes sour?"

Ironically, the CEOs of these big corporations (with the help of people like Bill Clinton, Michael Powell and Alan Greenspan) are responsible for encouraging the behavior that has exacerbated global climate change. If global climate change really is as threatening as it has been portrayed, their empire is in jeopardy of falling. When this happens, the emperors become unhappy and they call in the military to maintain their security.

Viewing the Pentagon report in this way, global climate change is redefined. Previously, being critical of global warming was just about being critical of an apocalyptic future. Now, however, if we are skeptical of global warming, we are accepting the destruction of our civil liberties at the hands of corporate giants. Global climate change pits humanity and life in general against those few with great wealth and power. 

If we are pro-life and liberty, we must do everything we can to prevent global climate change.

Clement, a columnist for The Daily Cougar, 
can be reached at dccampus@mail.uh.edu.
 

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