Sunday, November 04, 2007

Signs of the Times: Climate Change, the Military, and Civilization

Readers know that, unless you are gazing upon my blog from the FAR right fringe, rip-and-read is not a home for wild-eyed lefty ideas. Unless you are a snake handling evangelical republican stock broker, I'm not all THAT Liberal...not much further left than, say, Harry Truman or Bill Clinton.

But as I sat here over my British Breakfast this morning, two news stories from home caught my eye and I couldn't let them pass without notice.

Both come from the Associated Press.

In the small town of Orme, Tennessee, the water has gone. According to an AP story by Greg Bluestein,this tiny (pop. 145) municipality is importing water from nearby Alabama by fire truck. Residents have to make the most of their mere three hours of running water each day.

Between 6 and 9 every evening, the town scurries. Residents rush home from their jobs at the carpet factories outside town to turn on washing machines. Mothers start cooking supper. Fathers fill up water jugs. Kids line up to take showers.

"You never get used to it," says Cheryl Evans, a 55-year-old who has lived in town all her life. "When you're used to having water and you ain't got it, it's strange. I can't tell you how many times I've turned on the faucet before remembering the water's been cut."

In a related article, as Southern States are being squeezed by the drought tensions over the water supply are beginning to mount. Orme's mayor is quoted by the AP as saying: ""I feel for the folks in Atlanta. We can survive. We're 145 people. You've got 4.5 million people down there. What are they going to do? It's a scary thought."

The Tennessee mayor is not the only alarmist, it seems. In fact, in a separate article, the AP reports the conclusions of a recent report issued by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security.

According to the article, climate change:

Left unchecked, "the collapse and chaos associated with extreme climate change futures would destabilize virtually every aspect of modern life," said the report, comparing the potential outcome with the Cold War doomsday scenarios of a nuclear holocaust.

The report, according to the article by Arthur Max, postulates that a shift in the world's climate will give rise to bitter and bloody conflicts for water resorces, a scrabble for land, as sea levels rise, increased immigration to the United States (and conservatives, take note, these immigrants will NOT be coming because we offer political freedom- but because they want our water and our dry land- it's your worst xenophobic nightmare come to life), and a proliferation of new diseases born of malnutrition, and nasty diseases able to expand their range...imagine, the return of malaria to Pennsylvania...won't that be fun?

Clearly, it is time (past time, actually) for us to start planning for this change. We will need to reduce our dependence of nonrenewable energy (which would have the extra benefit of depriving the middle east of the power it now holds over us) and putting systems of transportation, distribution, and conservation in place that will help us cope, and compete in this new, and unpleasant world.

Again, please take note, I don't make this argument out of some fuzzy "We are the World" bunny-hugging perspective. Personally, I want the United States to remain number 1. I don't want to see us fall far behind. I bear the rest of the world no ill will, but at the same time, I've no desire to live in a world where the culture of Saudi Arabia, China, or Russia is calling the shots. I'm very happy, overall, living in a world which is run according to the principals of the Western Enlightenment. The fact that we are able to indulge in this luxury is due only to the fact that we are at the top of the economic heap. Thus, I'd like to see us stay there.

Still, I have no doubt that, if this report becomes news at all, rather than seeing as a call to Arms to save the American way of life by making needed changes, the Rush Limbaugh crowd will develop a counter argument which enables their voters to discount it and go back to sleep.


Anonymous said...

Wow, this post gave me goose pimples. Believe me, I have already considered these scenarios. I have thought about civil war within our country as people on the low end of the food chain here sink even lower and people become willing to fight to survive (eat, find water, etc.). And I have also considered the fact that I live in Florida, which may end up submerged. People don't want to look at these icky outcomes, and those people are not going to be prepared if/when they happen. I'm moving into a new home soon, and there are damn well going to be water collection barrels on my downspouts and solar on my roof! Not to mention native landscaping that doesn't require watering or mowing. I'm not sure we're adapting fast enough to global warming. Sigh...

Alex said...

What I find encouraging is that this problem is beginning to be seen in a strategic light.

When the question is considered in such a way that some vauge "environmental" concerns are weighed against the needs of modern comfort and civilization, then the needs of bears and bees far away from where we live, then those "environmental" concerns will loose out.

When we consider these problems as a threat to that modern way of life, and to our position of safety and comfort in the pyramid of civilization they will, then, perhaps gain the attention which they deserve.

PS- my home state of Florida is already a lost cause...it has been for so long a shrine to consumerism at all costs, that it will be the first to pay the price.