An uncertain future
By Stephen Fitzgerald
From the New York Times, the most dire of predictions:
WASHINGTON — A major scientific report issued by 13 federal agencies on Friday presents the starkest warnings to date of the consequences of climate change for the United States, predicting that if significant steps are not taken to rein in global warming, the damage will knock as much as 10 percent off the size of the American economy by century’s end.
The report, which was mandated by Congress and made public by the White House, is notable not only for the precision of its calculations and bluntness of its conclusions, but also because its findings are directly at odds with President Trump’s agenda of environmental deregulation, which he asserts will spur economic growth?
In terms of the consequences of climate change, lets have a look at what’s on the cards:
1. Communities: – Climate change creates new risks and exacerbates existing vulnerabilities in communities across the United States, presenting growing challenges to human health and safety, quality of life, and the rate of economic growth.
2. Economy: – Without substantial and sustained global mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause growing losses to American infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.
3. Interconnected Impacts: – Climate change affects the natural, built, and social systems we rely on individually and through their connections to one another. These interconnected systems are increasingly vulnerable to cascading impacts that are often difficult to predict, threatening essential services within and beyond the Nation’s borders.
4. Actions to Reduce Risks: – Communities, governments, and businesses are working to reduce risks from and costs associated with climate change by taking action to lower greenhouse gas emissions and implement adaptation strategies. While mitigation and adaptation efforts have expanded substantially in the last four years, they do not yet approach the scale considered necessary to avoid substantial damages to the economy, environment, and human health over the coming decades.
5. Water: – The quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.
6. Health: – Impacts from climate change on extreme weather and climate-related events, air quality, and the transmission of disease through insects and pests, food, and water increasingly threaten the health and well-being of the American people, particularly populations that are already vulnerable.
7. Indigenous Peoples: – Climate change increasingly threatens Indigenous communities’ livelihoods, economies, health, and cultural identities by disrupting interconnected social, physical, and ecological systems.
8. Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services: – Ecosystems and the benefits they provide to society are being altered by climate change, and these impacts are projected to continue. Without substantial and sustained reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions, transformative impacts on some ecosystems will occur; some coral reef and sea ice ecosystems are already experiencing such transformational changes.
9. Agriculture: – Rising temperatures, extreme heat, drought, wildfire on rangelands, and heavy downpours are expected to increasingly disrupt agricultural productivity in the United States. Expected increases in challenges to livestock health, declines in crop yields and quality, and changes in extreme events in the United States and abroad threaten rural livelihoods, sustainable food security, and price stability.
10. Infrastructure: – Our Nation’s aging and deteriorating infrastructure is further stressed by increases in heavy precipitation events, coastal flooding, heat, wildfires, and other extreme events, as well as changes to average precipitation and temperature. Without adaptation, climate change will continue to degrade infrastructure performance over the rest of the century, with the potential for cascading impacts that threaten our economy, national security, essential services, and health and well-being.
11. Oceans & Coasts: – Coastal communities and the ecosystems that support them are increasingly threatened by the impacts of climate change. Without significant reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions and regional adaptation measures, many coastal regions will be transformed by the latter part of this century, with impacts affecting other regions and sectors. Even in a future with lower greenhouse gas emissions, many communities are expected to suffer financial impacts as chronic high-tide flooding leads to higher costs and lower property values.
12. Tourism and Recreation: – Outdoor recreation, tourist economies, and quality of life are reliant on benefits provided by our natural environment that will be degraded by the impacts of climate change in many ways.
You don’t have to be a genius to work out that the same scenario applies to every western capitalist country including Australia. In fact, the impact is global. For capitalism to flourish you need economic growth so, are our short sighted leaders, in climate change denial, about to inadvertently or otherwise, destroy capitalism?
Donald Trumps “Mini-me” Australian PM Scott Morrison has the same short-sighted approach to climate change. Taking no action to address the impact of global warming for short term corporate profit will lead to catastrophic economic and environmental loss in the medium to long-term. Actually it’s happening right now if you look at the cost of recent unprecedented extreme weather events!
Here’s the conundrum – Right wing conservatives by definition don’t like change so, why are they embracing climate change and risking the future of humanity and the natural world? The Morrisons and the Trumps are happy to change their spots when driven by greed and the result is, screw the consequences, screw the rest of us and screw the planet. Or is there more to it than that? What’s in their heads besides what the fossil fuel industry wants?
Since, by embracing climate change, they appear to be hell bent on destroying capitalism, what’s the alternative they have in mind? Well, like any good right-winger, if my obsession was money, power and total control, I would be thinking democratic dictatorship so that no-one could stand in my way. That’s how Putin and Xi Jinping keep the civilian population and the financial elite in their place and totally under control.
To go down that path, as a start, you need to give the military call out powers to respond to riots with shoot to kill authorization, you need to control the media, you denigrate and drag down your opponents, you constantly instil trumped-up fear into the community, you increase the fire power and size of the police force and you buy the military with hundreds of billions of dollars in defence spending. $200 billion on defence is more that half our national debt. And, that my friend, is precisely what the Morrison government are doing right now, today, in Australia?
So, we have a choice, ladies and gentlemen – Address global warming and continue with capitalism under a progressive government with some degree of social equality or, turn the page and go for total environmental destruction of the planet and end up with a full blown right-wing dictatorship? It appears to me that conservatives aren’t so conservative after all and, they have an agenda to put themselves in total control and keep the rest of us, including the financial elite, firmly under foot. Wouldn’t Morrison and his cronies love that, no one to answer to. Not even those rich bastards at the top and, no more sucking up to Murdoch and his propaganda machine, to stay in power.
If I were part of the global financial elite, the rich and the powerful, I would be having a serious look at where extreme right-wing governments are pushing societies and why? There are those among us who see catastrophic climate change and the demise of capitalism as a huge opportunity and, a grab for total power.
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