Don’t stop me if you’ve heard this before.
One would like to believe that in the face of a massive and growing emergency, our benevolent governors will recognize the need to do something, figure out what to do and then, do it. With respect to climate change, none of that is happening. I have created a very modest little mechanism through which anyone concerned can help exert some pressure on the Obama administration to at least begin developing a plan for coping with climate change, which I’ll get to downstream a bit.
Everyone who acknowledges the reality of climate change recognizes that it constitutes a crisis. Five years ago, a staid military think tank called the Center for Naval Analyses commissioned and published a report on the national security threat posed by climate change.
In the national and international security environment, climate change threatens to add new hostile and stressing factors. On the simplest level, it has the potential to create sustained natural and humanitarian disasters on a scale far beyond those we see today. The consequences will likely foster political instability where societal demands exceed the capacity of governments to cope.
CNA is populated by retired admirals and generals whose climate change concerns run mostly toward preparing the US military to cope with the consequences of long-term, escalating global unrest. They’re not a group of flamboyant alarmists. Neither are the technocrats and fat cats at the World Bank, whose concerns are keeping the world safe for development, and who last month issued a frankly terrifying report on climate change called “Turn Down The Heat,” in which they predict a 4-degree rise in global temperatures by the end of this century if the threat is left unaddressed. There is, say the authors, “no certainty that adaptation to a 4°C world is possible.”
In other words, if we proceed as we are then the next generation but one may get to witness the fabled end of the world as we know it, and we’ll all walk down a long mile of very bad road in the meantime.
The end of the world is a pretty big deal, and staving it off will require equal measures of blind optimism, controlled panic and homicidal rage directed at the people who control the resources that must be mobilized in order to succeed. Many people are marshaling their stockpiles of those qualities and doing great work, Bill McKibben at 350.org, and Michael Klare, who writes often at the invaluable TomDispatch, among them. (I mean no slight to everybody I don’t mention; just trying to keep this relatively short.)
Most recently, Klare wrote about the International Energy Agency’s offhand suggestion that even if everybody does everything more or less right, we’re looking at “a long-term average global temperature increase of 3.6 degrees C,” or more or less the same apocalyptic scenario the World Bank says we’re headed for if we don’t do everything right. This is in the context of a report that says thanks to the forward-looking fossil fuel policies of current and recent US administrations, along with the woes of everybody else, the US is poised to become the world’s biggest oil producer by the end of the decade. Which is in no conceivable view a good thing.
As I said up top, I’ve had an idea — a very modest one, but I think rather clever — about how to pressure the Obama administration into doing something concrete and visible to raise the profile of climate change and possibly even to begin developing a concrete plan to do something about it. I created a petition at the White House “We the People” forum — you know the place, where people go to secede from the Union and protect our right to use energy-hog lightbulbs — requesting the administration to commission a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change.
25,000 signatures gathered by December 30 are required to trigger a White House response to the petition. The current total is 98, or 52 shy of the number required to make the petition visible to people searching for the term “climate change” among the extant petitions. This is somewhat discouraging, but I have summoned the blind optimism component of the formula for success and I think the possibility of finding 24,902 additional signatories is pretty good. Obviously, though, I need some help, specifically, yours. I need everyone who reads this to sign the petition and share it with your friends.
As I say, it’s simple and modest. In the best case, enough people will sign to trigger a White House response, the response will be positive and we’ll receive the benefits of both an enormous shitstorm from climate change deniers and an official document outlining the national security implications of climate change.
Even a White House rejection of the petition would have positive results; the administration would be on the record refusing to take what is by any measure a reasonable step toward dealing with climate change. More pressure points are better than fewer; more publicity is better than less.
In the worst case, the petition will go nowhere and generate no publicity around the issue. If that happens, it will have cost no one anything other than the few seconds everybody invested in signing it.
Here’s the petition in its entirety:
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Commission a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change
The United States cannot effectively cope with the consequences of climate change without understanding how climate change will affect local, regional and global security, economic and political situations. This petition requests that the Obama administration commission a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change in order to gain the intelligence community’s assessment of the impact of climate change on our national security.
Simple, specific, and insanely easy to support. Please do. I live on a subtropical island, like to keep my head above water a while longer. Mahalo nui loa.