Are we on the path to Climate War?
This may well be the first time you've heard the term 'climate war', and in all likelihood you may not hear it again for quite some time.
Climate War unfortunately is the answer to a question that hasn't yet been publicly asked, but the hints are that behind the scenes this is already acknowledged as the path that will be taken in our journey towards protecting the planet.
So what's the question?
When it really comes down to it, you have probably had this thought in the back of your mind, or may have found that it crops up in conversations from time to time. The question is "what is the point in trying to reduce our carbon footprint in western developed nations when other high polluting, developing nations such as China¹ don't really take the environmental threat seriously, and will continue to increase their carbon footprint and planetary pollution?".
Nothing is ever simple, and nothing is ever fully transparent - decisions and plans are made at leadership level, that are not communicated until the public opinion has been aligned through a carefully crafted narrative that has been gradually utilised to change public perceptions and gain their backing for what would otherwise be considered unacceptable.
What is the primary objective?
We are now entering a drawn-out end game scenario for the current world order. This might sound more dramatic and conspiratorial than what it actually means or entails, so perhaps it is helpful to breakdown what this essentially relates to.
The current world order has an invisible hierarchy and structure based upon a mixture of treaties, agreements, alliances, political power and influence, corporate interests, military power, control over resources, and monetary or financial power. This has always gradually changed, for example certain nations have become wealthier over time, or new political relationships and allegiances have changed specific nations position in the overall hierarchy.
What is now underway is a challenge right at the top of the tree - the USA has been at the top of the hierarchy for over 75 years and now through a series of events, breakdowns and failures is facing a critical period. Certain other powerful countries are no longer willing to accept the status quo - they see the USA as having no moral right to this position, nor the aptitude, monetary diligence or fairness, or military dominance to allow this to continue.
There are a variety of different potential outcomes and perhaps an unlikely outcome is for the USA to be knocked off the top position. What is more likely are two alternatives:
1. A splinter group forms - perhaps the use of the term splinter group implies just a small number of countries, but this is not what it would be in practice. There have always been certain countries (such as North Korea) who have not accepted the current hierarchy, and that does not undermine nor bring in to question the reality of the current world order. Such as splinter group would in all likelihood contain dozens of individual nations, and perhaps one third to a half of the world's population, and perhaps the majority of the world's resources. In order to effectively exist they will need to be able to adequately protect their own interests and status as outside of the USA led structure.
2. The USA reasserts itself at the top of the hierarchy and all other countries accept this, willingly or otherwise.
How will the USA approach this looming challenge?
The USA has grown accustomed and comfortable with its privileged position at the top of the tree, including its ownership of the world currency - essentially the equivalent of being both the banker and a player in a game of Monopoly. However it is currently extremely divided, struggling with its own societal difficulties and internal politics. The most likely approach is that America will attempt to go with option 2 and reassert its dominance through a combination of political pressure, financial pressure and military threats, and where necessary actual military use.
So how does this relate to Climate War?
It has always been important that the USA regard themselves as the 'good guys' - they describe themselves without humility as 'the leaders of the free world', and the Hollywood machine, and their education system has built within their population a very clear sense of both moral and societal superiority (although now fraying at the edges) that would hamper any attempt for unjustified military invasions.
Climate Change, whether you believe in the existential threat it poses or not, has the potential to be used to build up the support of not just the US public, but also the populations of its allies, in order to establish moral superiority in support of a gradual narrative build that justifies the threat of war, or the instigation of war, with the pretence of 'the defence of our nations' climates, the life of our people, and life on Earth as we know it'.
Is this opinion too speculative - do you have any evidence supporting this perspective?
The USA is one of the leading members of NATO, and as of 29th June 2022, the latest declaration from the NATO heads of state includes direct reference to Climate Change as a defining challenge of our time² and that they will "integrate climate change considerations across all of NATO's core tasks".
Is this just a reference to developing more fuel efficient tanks, lower carbon footprint missiles or switching lightbulbs to LED bulbs at military facilities? Or is this something considerably more significant - the first step in the narrative change?
NATO are the foundation of our collective defence, and if they fully integrate the idea that Climate Change is one of the biggest threats, it isn't too much of a leap to see how this could be the justification for the use or threat of use of military force in order to address the threat that it poses the member states and the world.
¹ China are the largest CO2 emitter in the world, currently responsible for over 30% of all CO2 emissions.
* Data is for carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion in tons in 2015
² The full NATO declaration - the Madrid Summit Declaration, item 12.