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Act Now to Stop War and End Racism and Climate Change

by on September 9, 2020

Climate change is real. Look around you. The world’s fifth largest economy, California, is on fire in the north, south, west, and east parts of the state. Oregon is on fire. Washington state is on fire. Not only is Colorado on fire, it’s also experiencing snow storms.

Bay Area sky turns bright orange, some areas see 'snowing' ash - SFGate
San Franscisco skyline, Sept 9, 2020
Dave Aguilera on Twitter: "Warnings for fire, freeze and snow over Colorado  now thru Tuesday! #cowx #4wx @ChrisCBS4 @AshtonCBS4 @LaurenCBS4… "
Colorado weather prediction, Sept. 7, 2020

Hurricanes, while normal, are intensified by climate change (Climate change didn’t cause Hurricane Laura but it did make the storm worse). While hurricanes are an North American thing, typhoons are the same as hurricanes, but occur in different weather pattern zone. While it seems to have been quite overshadowed by the floods, fires, and ice in America, Typhoon Haishen helped render 17,000 South Korean without power, after it became the third typhoon to hit South Korea over the last two weeks.

Südkorea Busan | Taifun Haishen (Reuters/Yonhap)
Typhoon Haishen, South Korea, Sept 2020

Some of the travesties that happen are due to idiocies (hello, gender reveal party) and some are due to other kind of idiocies such as greed (intentionally burning the Amazon), but climate change will make a travesty into a disastrous catastrophe because as things heat up the land and forest are more inclined to catch fire.

Four months ago the Associated Press wrote a great article on climate change and coastal flooding of April of this year. The article, which I’ve seen the AP write about at other times recently, titled “Extreme Coastal Flooding Could Be Daily Event by 2100“. Referring to a study in Scientific Reports, the AP says that:

In the United States, about 40% of the nation’s population lives in coastal areas at risk of hazards such as flooding, shoreline erosion and storm hazards. On a global scale, eight of the world’s largest cities are located on coasts.

This phenomenon of increasing sea levels is caused by two major factors: thermal expansion from warmer waters and melting from land-based ice. With the former, the oceans act as a sort of sponge for the atmosphere, absorbing more than 90% of atmospheric emissions caused by human activity, including heat that causes the waters to expand.

The only piece missing from one of the largest distributors of news in the world is that climate change is increasing because of human activity.

In an NPR article, “Everything Is Unprecedented. Welcome To Your Hotter Earth” Camilo Mora, a climate scientist at the University of Hawaii, explains the science:


Keep in mind that all these things are related….CO2 is increasing the temperature. As a result, the temperature is accelerating the evaporation of water. The evaporation of water leads to drought that in turn leads to heat waves and wildfires. In places that are humid, that evaporation — the same evaporation — leads to massive precipitation that is then commonly followed by floods.

“Keep in mind that these thing are related”. Not only is the science related but the human element is connected. I don’t merely mean our contribution of fossil fuels. The struggle to mitigate climate change and end our patterns of climate degradation is a struggle for human rights. In this way, the fight for climate justice is connected to racial justice and the fights for other human rights, including a life of peace and an end to war.

The Yale School of Environment recently talked with Elizabeth Yeampierre of Climate Justice Alliance. Yeampierre drew “a direct line from slavery and the rapacious exploitation of natural resources to current issues of environmental justice.” Time also wrote about environmental racism just a couple months ago. It concludes, after a summary of recent and decades-long struggle for both the environment and racism, that “the increased attention to systemic racism and the urgency of climate change has made for a unique opportunity: address centuries of racism while saving the world from a global warming catastrophe.”

If the overall goal of saving the world from a global warming catastrophe that is caused in large part by CO2 emissions then the sensible thing to do is to target the emitters of CO2. Connected with the struggle for human rights and a peaceful world, it turns out that a 2019 article found that the “U.S. military emits more CO2 than most countries“. The article says that “the Department of Defense spews so much greenhouse gas every year that it would rank as the 55th worst polluter in the world if it were a country, beating out Sweden, Denmark, and Portugal, according to a new paper from Brown University’s Costs of War project.” While 55 of out of almost 200 doesn’t sound bad, it hardly sounds good.

The irony, Grist points out, is that “the military is concerned about what will happen as the world keeps heating up.” The Department of Defense has said that “half of its bases were threatened by the effects of global warming” including rising seas that regularly flood Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia – even on sunny days- as well as” melting permafrost threatens the stability of military buildings in the Arctic.” Further, “national security experts project that climate change will fuel more conflicts as resources become scarce.” Indeed, climate change probably create the conditions for the civil war in Syria.

Racism and war would both continue if there was no climate change, and it’s clear the war will continue, and perhaps increase, if climate change continues. The need to stop war and end racism are valuable goals and are hopefully the goals of all people not consumed by greed, but if we don’t end the human contribution to climate change we will end up with an unlivable planet.

Look around you. This is climate change in action. Can we really sustain this as a species?

From → Environment

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