It’s a dangerous world indeed; James Clapper, the US’ Director of National Intelligence, made an annual “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community” a few days ago. And unlike the denialists in our politics and media, Clapper’s report directly addressed issues of climate change. For example, we’re going to run out of water:
Risks to freshwater supplies due to shortages, poor quality, floods, and climate change are growing. These forces will hinder the ability of key countries to produce food and generate energy, potentially undermining global food markets and hobbling economic growth.
Well, given our species’ metastasizing population, it’s a good question whether “economic growth” correlates well with the overall quality of human life on Earth, but let’s go on.
As a result of demographic and economic development pressures, North Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia particularly will particularly face difficulty coping with water problems. Lack of adequate water is a destabilizing factor in developing countries that do not have the management mechanisms, financial resources, or technical ability to solve their internal water problems.
Translation: lots of people are going to die of thirst and starvation. Those that don’t are going to be hungry, angry, and violent. No doubt our country’s war profiteers are looking forward to new markets for their products. War is of course a shockingly inefficient and climatically-destructive way of reducing surplus population.
The report goes on to address the likely consequences of increases in extreme weather around the world:
In recent years, local food, water, energy, health, and economic security have been episodically degraded worldwide by severe weather conditions. These include more frequent or intense floods, droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, cyclones, coastal high water, and heat waves. Rising temperatures, although greater in the Arctic, are not solely a high latitude phenomenon. Scientific work in the past few years has shown that temperature anomalies during growing seasons and persistent droughts have hampered agricultural productivity and extended wildfire seasons. In addition, intense storms including typhoons, hurricanes, tornadoes, cyclones, and derechos when exposed to growing human infrastructure, contribute to greater damage and threaten ever-increasing urban populations and economic development. This trend will likely continue to place stress on first responders, nongovernment organizations, and militaries that are often called to provide humanitarian assistance.
In the developed world, we’re already feeling “disaster fatigue” as we lose track of how many catastrophes need our urgent donations to aid rescue and recovery. Poor us.
The Republicans in our government used to take these assessments seriously. The past several years have seen the advent of the insane Tea Party caucus, for whom any acknowledgement of scientific fact is anathema — so it is now electoral suicide for anyone in the GOP to treat these warnings with anything short of outright ridicule and denial.
In actuality, it’s the climate-change deniers in politics, media, and society who deserve the ridicule.