Of all the things the history books may note 2007 for, the most important is likely to be that this is the year the U.S. government finally admitted human-driven climate change was real - while still refusing to actually do anything about it - and the year the evidence finally became in-your-face.
A record number of floods, droughts and storms around the world this year amount to a climate change "mega disaster", the United Nation's emergency relief coordinator, Sir John Holmes, has warned.I keep saying this - it constantly depresses me that no Democratic candidate has yet worked out that climate change is a national security matter of the foremost importance - far greater than any threat from "Islamofascism" - and that Republican intransigence has seriously weakened national security.
Sir John, a British diplomat who is also known as the UN's under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, said dire predictions about the impact of global warming on humanity were already coming true.
"We are seeing the effects of climate change. Any year can be a freak but the pattern looks pretty clear to be honest. That's why we're trying ... to say, of course you've got to deal with mitigation of emissions, but this is here and now, this is with us already," he said.
As a measure of the worsening situation, Ocha, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - part of the UN secretariat that employs Sir John - has issued 13 emergency "flash" appeals so far this year. The number is three more than in 2005, which held the previous record.
Two years ago only half the international disasters dealt with by Ocha had anything to do with the climate; this year all but one of the 13 emergency appeals is climate-related. "And 2007 is not finished. We will certainly have more by the end of the year, I fear," added Sir John, who is in charge of channelling international relief efforts to disaster areas.
As weather patterns change around the world with increasing rapidity, millions upon millions of people will be dislocated from their homes or come into conflict over resources like food and water which are no longer predictable. Here in the U.S., for instance, it's becoming likely that a shift in the general air currents will turn the Midwest into a new dustbowl while previously arid Southwest Texas will see a new influx of humidity, rain and extreme weather which will, in a couple or four decades, turn the almost desert around San Antonio into a prepubescent rain forest. Would anyone like to predict the consequences of such a weather change for America's crop-growing states? It's above my pay-grade, I know that much.
Repeat that, with even greater extremes, over the whole globe. It should be obvious that even First World nations (with serious arsenals) are going to see massive geopolitical shifts and that will inevitably lead to massive international tension or even wars. Yet by sitting on their thumbs and denying the facts for so long, the Bush administration and Republicans in general have left the U.S. dangerously behind the curve. Other nations have been planning for climate change, even planning to take geopolitical advantage of climate change, for years now. The U.S. isn't even limbering up.
Associating climate change with the needs of national security has to be a no-brainer for the Dems. Why have none of them figured this out yet?