Since Earth’s creation, no natural threats to its existence compare to the danger that it now faces from climate change, caused by human activity.
Gigantic meteors have struck the earth and volcanoes have spewed out enormous amounts of smoke and ash that dramatically altered the landscape and deeply impacted the flora and fauna, and perhaps caused the massive die off of dinosaurs … but they are not as grave a threat to the existence of Earth now confronting us.
Nuclear winter, a threat during the Cold War between the US and the Soviet Union that could have been catastrophic had it happened, is arguably less of a threat than climate change.
As you read this, the planet Earth is burning up. Not just metaphorically. Literally. Massive species’ die offs are in the offing. Freakish weather patterns, including devastating hurricanes, islands disappearing, and frighteningly high temperatures are already occurring. Forced human migration and battles over necessities such as food and water will be in the near future.
This precious and indispensable planet is the ultimate commons. As the commons it suffers from the fact that no individual and private interests can cope with what the Earth needs to survive and be protected. Those who see things is terms of private interests cannot and will not rise to meet the terms of this crisis.
Climate change deniers are only the natural outcome of the philosophy of private as the be all and end all.
It isn’t “militarism” or the “Military Industrial Complex” or “Corporate Greed.” Those popular terms mask the essence and the source of the problem. The problem isn’t some symptoms of capitalism that some (mostly well-meaning) people latch onto as substitutes for the source of the problem.
The problem is capitalism itself. Government leaders and corporations fiddle like Nero while the Earth burns, pointing the finger at each other and criminally condemning the planet to sure destruction.
While the Earth burns, the governments around the world, but especially in the capitalist citadels, speak of “creating jobs,” “energy independence” and ISIS/terrorism. They wage war after war, plotting even more wars, even nuclear wars, as we speak.
Yet the DoD’s own report warns that global warming will far eclipse by far the DoD’s own publicly stated concerns about terrorism. As I recounted in Globalization and the Demolition of Society at pp. 167-168:
In a 2003 report commissioned by Andrew Marshall and written by former Shell Oil Head of Planning Peter Schwartz and California think tank Global Business Network’s Doug Randall, the Department of Defense (DoD) itself warned of the convulsive effects that global warming in the not distant future will wreak in the form of forced migrations of tens of millions and wars over resources critical to actual survival; the DoD described this as a threat “greater than terrorism.”
The research suggests that …adverse weather conditions could develop relatively abruptly, with persistent changes in the atmospheric circulation causing drops in some regions of 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit in a single decade. Paleoclimatic evidence suggests that altered climatic patterns could last for as much as a century, as they did when the ocean conveyor collapsed 3 ,066 years ago, or, at the extreme could last as long as 1,000 years as they did during the Younger Dryas, which began about 12,700 years ago. . . .
[A]n increasing number of business leaders, economists, policy makers, and politicians are concerned about the projections for further change and are working to limit human influences on the climate. But, these efforts may not be sufficient or be implemented soon enough.
Rather than decades or even centuries of gradual warming, recent evidence suggests the possibility that a more dire climate scenario may actually be unfolding. . . .
As famine, disease, and weather-related disasters strike due to the abrupt climate change, many countries’ needs will exceed their carrying capacity. This will create a sense of desperation, which is likely to lead to offensive aggression in order to reclaim balance. Imagine eastern European countries, struggling to feed their populations with a falling supply of food, water, and energy, eyeing Russia, whose population is already in decline, for access to its grain, minerals, and energy supply. Or, picture Japan, suffering from flooding along its coastal cities and contamination of its fresh water supply, eying Russia’s Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source to power desalination plants and energy-intensive agricultural processes. Envision Pakistan, India, and China—all armed with nuclear weapons—skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land. Spanish and Portuguese fishermen might fight over fishing rights—leading to conflicts at sea. And, countries including the United States would be likely to better secure their borders. With over 200 river basins touching multiple nations, we can expect conflict over access to water for drinking, irrigation, and transportation.
The Danube touches twelve nations, the Nile runs though nine, and the Amazon runs through seven. [Emphasis added.]
The response from the Pentagon’s spokesperson Dan Hetlage to this report was interesting:
We did not expect any White House response to the Pentagon on this report. Andrew Marshall is our Yoda, our big thinker who peers into the future. But it’s all speculation. It was very ethereal, very broad in scope. It wasn’t like, “Oh, wow, that totally debunks the president’s stand on global warming,” because it was merely a thought exercise. We don’t have a crystal ball. We don’t really know. [Emphasis in the original.]
They “don’t really know.” When astronauts go into space, the back-up systems NASA creates to protect the astronauts and their missions are multiple in nature in case the first few fail. The scenarios they run in preparation for outer space travel are diverse and complex. These efforts are protecting a handful of people in space; yet, when the entire planet is at risk, the trigger for action is based on whether or not they know for certain that something will happen. Of course, at the point when the dangers are manifest and present, action in response is much too late. This is the equivalent of packing the entirety of humanity into one big car and those in charge of the welfare of the passengers deciding that they are not going to put on any seatbelts because they do not know for certain that there will be an accident.
Only those who recognize the public interest and who will fight for the public interest can recognize the catastrophe underway and can save the Earth. Only a system that is based upon the public interest can rescue this planet from certain catastrophe, no longer something in the future but what’s happening right now.
That is what is at stake in the protests underway beginning this Sunday, centered in New York.
Dennis Loo sits on the Steering Committee of the World Can’t Wait. This article first appeared on his website DennisLoo.com on September 19, 2014.
 Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security,” Edf.org, October 0667, accessed on July 30, 2010.
 Amanda Little, “Apocalyptic Pentagon Report on Global Warming Could Spur Action on Capitol Hill,” Pentagoners (blog), Grist.org, February 05, 2004, grist.org/article/pentagoners, accessed on July 30, 2010.