When all else fails try war

On August 18th, 2009, the New York Times published an editorial that pretty much sums up the current state of affairs: Congress appears to be impervious to the usual scientific statements about global warming but just might listen to an argument that focuses on national security. The trigger in this case is a report published in 2007(!) by “the CNA Corporation, a Pentagon-funded think tank”. CNA warned that, as global warming increases so, too, will the threat of climate-induced political tensions, mass migrations, local and regional conflicts, and so on. All of these changes can negatively affect our security as well as that of other nations.

Having spent almost two decades in one phase or another of national security pursuits I can attest to the superior ability of defense issues to get the attention of Congress. This was particularly the case for issues that might take decades to unfold, as is now the case with measures to avoid the global warming tipping point. Having later spent a few decades in non-defense research I can also attest to the feeling that it is much harder to get a million dollars for non-defense research than it is to get the same amount for defense research.

So, unfortunately, the Times editorial has a cogent point.

Meanwhile, I’m buying another hybrid car, I’ve been teleworking for years, we’re installing high(er) efficiency light bulbs and a more efficient furnace. You can do the same. If you’re not teleworking now please try it. If you are teleworking now please increase the frequency with which you do it. Let’s face it, the climate and oceans have enormous inertia so we have to start this minute if we’re to have any hope of turning things around before warming gets totally out of hand. Although individual efforts mat not seem like even a drop in the bucket, hundreds of millions of such small improvement may make the crucial difference.

If your representatives in government aren’t convinced by the science, or couldn’t care less about events that might happen after the next election, try the national security argument on them. President Eisenhower once warned the nation about the power of the military-industrial complex. That power is still substantial. Maybe it’s time to use it for another, different kind of war: the war against climate change.

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