[pjw] INFO: Climate Change Catch 22: US Military Poses Threat to Itself (Counterpunch 9/19)

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Tue Sep 20 18:21:10 EDT 2016

PJW supporters
Below is an article by PJW board member Desiree Hellegers that appeared on 
Counterpunch this past Monday, connecting the issues of militarism and 
climate change in a chilling way. My summation would be this: the more the 
military uses fossil fuels, the more they risk flooding some of their own 
installations with rising tides, but their only solution is to keep doing 
the same thing and just move their bases somewhere else.
dan h
peace and justice works

September 19, 2016
Climate Change Catch 22: It's Official--the U.S. Military Poses a 
Significant Threat to the U.S. Military
by Desiree Hellegers

This week, the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Climate and Security 
announced the release of a series of "bipartisan" statements and reports 
under the banner, "Military and National Security Leaders Urge Robust New 
Course on Climate Change." The most comprehensive of the newly released 
documents focuses on the threat that rising sea levels and catastrophic 
storms pose to U.S. military bases globally.

Compiled by a panel of military luminaries, including Rear Admiral 
Jonathan White and Brigadier General Gerald Galloway, the report 
identifies "[d]ealing with" the "risks" that climate change increasingly 
poses to the "operational effectiveness" of the U.S. military as "a core 
priority" of the military in the coming years.

Among the other documents released on Wednesday was a statement by "The 
Climate Security Consensus Project, a bipartisan group of twenty-five 
senior military and national security experts." The letter identifies a 
laundry list of likely impacts and "stresses resulting from climate 
change," including the "likelihood of intra or international conflict, 
state failure, mass migration, and the creation of additional ungoverned 
spaces, across a range of strategically-significant regions, including but 
not limited to the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, the 
Indo-Asia-Pacific, and the Arctic regions."

Some might be tempted to celebrate the potential for the U.S. military to 
break through the fossil fuel-funded corporate media's silence on climate 
change and the broader culture of climate denial in the U.S. However, the 
newly released documents are best seen as part of broader attempts to 
securitize and militarize the climate crisis. In a 2015 speech to 
graduates of the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, 
President Obama described climate change as a battle, "one where our Coast 
Guardsmen are already on the front lines," one that "perhaps more than any 
other, will shape your entire careers." Calling it "a peril that can 
affect generations," Obama spoke of the "urgent need to combat and adapt 
to climate change."

The strategies outlined in the newly released documents, like Obama's 2015 
speech mark the emergence of what amounts to the climate change equivalent 
of the "War on drugs" and the "War on terror," with what are likely to be 
similarly disastrous results. This boondoggle will, however, no doubt 
garner windfall profits for war profiteers like Halliburton and the 
corporation formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root. In true disaster 
capitalist fashion, these newly released documents, like similar reports 
issued in 2014 and 2015, steer clear of addressing the root causes of 
climate change. Conspicuously and predictably absent from the reports is 
any mention of the fact that the U.S. military is not only the largest 
polluter in the world, but the largest single driver of climate change 
worldwide. In 2009, the daily oil consumption of the U.S. military was 
estimated at 359,000 barrels of oil a day.

To put this figure in perspective, the Pacific Northwest is currently 
embroiled in a struggle to keep the region from being transformed into a 
dirty fossil fuel transport corridor. The proposed Tesoro Savage oil 
terminal, to be sited in Vancouver, WA, would be the largest oil terminal 
in North America. With a an estimated carrying capacity of 360,000 barrels 
of oil a day, the facility is nearly equivalent to the daily oil 
consumption of the U.S. military. The proposed facility poses a major 
threat to the ecological and economic health of the region. An oil spill 
on the Columbia River, which is the ecological, cultural and economic 
lifeblood of the region, would have potentially catastrophic impacts on 
marine fisheries, agriculture, and tourism. But it would also constitute a 
fundamental abrogation of the treaty-protected rights of Columbia River 
Tribal Nations to be able to fish in their "usual and accustomed places."

Even in the absence of a spill, however, the climate impacts of burning 
the fuel would be felt both locally and globally. Pacific Northwest Tribal 
Nations are already dealing with impacts of accelerating climate change, 
given rising sea levels and storm surges, and the impacts of ocean 
acidification and warming waters on traditional foods, including salmon 
and shellfish. The Quinault Indian Nation, which is working to stave off 
the incursion of fossil fuel terminals in Grays Harbor, WA, is already 
making plans to relocate its lower village to higher ground in the face of 
the increasing threat posed by tsunamis in the region.

Readers of the report by White and Galloway might not find the stats on 
the military's oil consumption entirely surprising, given that, as the 
report specifies, "The United States military is the greatest globally 
deployed military force in human history." The U.S. military is "present 
in 156 countries across the globe, and includes 'nearly 562,000 facilities 
on 4,800 sites worldwide and covering 24.9 million acres.'" The report's 
central concern is with anticipated climate impacts on "coastal military 
infrastructure"; between 2035 and 2100, climate change promises to 
significantly impact the "operational readiness" of U.S. forces. The 
report envisions a world in which the U.S. can't bank on retaining its 
existing "assets," and is compelled instead to perpetually "rebalance" its 
"investments," as its installations go under. White and Galloway, et al, 
genteely demur from any mention of the new strategic "assets" that the 
U.S. has already identified in the Arctic, as melting glaciers give way to 
new opportunities for fracking, drilling and mining. But no matter, front 
line communities of color around the world that are most impacted by 
climate change and losing ground--from New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, to 
Puerto Rico, Okinawa, and the Marshall Islands, to Syria and the Persian 
Gulf--can rest assured that the U.S. will be on hand to "deter conflict 
and coercion, and promote adherence to international law and standards."

The report provides sobering and specific insights into the anticipated 
impacts of climate change in the U.S. and globally. It anticipates, for 
example, that "low-lying areas" of "key" Marine Corps training facilities 
at Camp Lejeune and Parris Island, located respectively in North and South 
Carolina, "could be underwater around one third of the year...." 
Meanwhile, "half of the land area of U.S. Coast Guard Station Sandy Hook 
in New Jersey," the report notes, "could be flooded by extreme tides in 

The report discusses the fate of the Marshall Islands, which it describes 
as a "strategic asset." The Marshall Islands, the report notes, "hosts the 
Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site," which White and 
Galloway, et al, affectionately describe as "a pillar of U.S. Strategic 
Command." The report's clinical take on the "growing realization that the 
Marshall Islands may become uninhabitable in the decades ahead," couldn't 
represent a more dramatic contrast to Marshallese poet Kathy 
Jetnil-Kijiner's impassioned address at the 2015 Paris Climate Conference, 
in which she invoked the human cost of nuclear testing and rising sea 
levels, and "will[ed] the world/to find its balance/So that 
people/remember/that beyond/the discussions/are faces/all the way out 
here...." . Not surprisingly, scant concern for those lives can be found 
in these reports and statements.

The weeks before the documents were released saw a groundswell in the 
movement to resist the Dakota Access Pipeline, which threatens to 
contaminate the water and land of the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. 
Also central in the struggle is an understanding of the global climate 
impacts of burning the 570,000 barrels of oil a day that the pipeline will 
carry. On September 3rd, just short of two weeks before the release of the 
Center for Climate and Security documents, Native American activists 
confronted guard dogs and pepper spray as they tried to protect a burial 
ground on the edge of the Standing Rock Reservation from being desecrated 
by bulldozers.

The burial ground was among a number of sacred/culturally significant 
sites identified by the Standing Rock Sioux in an injunction filed just 
days before to try to halt construction while the tribe pursues a lawsuit 
against the Army Corps of Engineers for approving the pipeline without 
adequate review.

The September 3rd assault on activists and on the tribal burial ground 
occurred on the 153rd anniversary of the 1863 Inyan Ska (Whitestone 
Massacre). According to LaDonna Brave Bull Allard, Section 106 Historic 
Preservation Officer for the Standing Rock Sioux, and Founder and Director 
of the Sacred Stone Camp, which is at the epicenter of resistance to the 
pipeline, the U.S. army slaughtered 300 to 400 "Yanktonais, Isanti 
(Santee), and Hunkpapa gathered alongside a lake in southeastern North 
Dakota...for an intertribal buffalo hunt to prepare for winter."  The 
Inyan Ska Massacre, like Wounded Knee, and Sand Creek, is a reminder of 
the long and violent arc of U.S. militarism and what befalls communities 
that are slow to move along to reservations and strategic hamlets and to 
submit their sovereign ancestral lands for inclusion in the U.S.' 
portfolio of "strategic assets" and "investments." Five days after the 
anniversary of the Inyan Ska massacre, North Dakota Governor Jack 
Dalrymple called out the National Guard. "I have asked Gen. Dohrmann to 
make available some North Dakota National Guard personnel to support law 
enforcement and augment their public safety efforts," announced Dalrymple. 
The resistance at Standing Rock, however, shows no sign of abating, as 
more Native activists--and non-Native allies--arrive on the scene to join 
the thousands already on site who are prepared to put their bodies on the 
line to protect the land and ensure the survival of the planet.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is gearing up to "combat" the climate impacts 
of decades of U.S. military dominance. The only and predictable winners of 
a militarized response to climate change will be the Milo Minderbinders 
who profit from making nightmares real.

Desiree Hellegers is a co-founder and affiliated faculty of the Collective 
for Social and Environmental Justice at Washington State University 
Vancouver, and author of No Room of Her Own of Her Own: Women's Stories of 
Homelessness, Life, Death and Resistance (Palgrave, 2011).

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