Pressing Climate Devastation: Causes, Problems, Misconceptions and Solutions
In April of 2022, protesters of the Extinction Rebellion movement gathered in London to surround the United Kingdom’s headquarters of Shell, the oil and gas corporation’s building (See video). The protesters, including many scientists, glued their hands, flyers and scientific papers to the office building. At another site, the protesters glued scientific papers to the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
As the climate activists protested in Glasgow on November 8th, 2021, they emphasized the role of the U.S. military fueling the devastation of the climate. The Costs of War project at Brown University estimates the military produced approximately 1.2 billion metric tons of emissions of carbon from 2001 to 2017. About one-third came from the wars overseas in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and other nations. Nevertheless, the carbon emissions of the U.S. military have been exempt from the international treatises for climate protection since 1997 during the Kyoto Protocol.
On November 9th of 2021, in response to the global climate negotiations where it was declared through Mainstream Media that there has been historic progress on climate change in Glasgow, Scotland (COP26), a reporter asks a serious question, while declaring shocking facts about the Pentagon and militaries: The Pentagon is the world’s largest polluter. Funding for the Pentagon is increasing, and militaries are exempt from discussions about climate. (Link to video)
Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi: Wait a minute. I want a woman. I want a woman, a woman. (laughs) Gender equality. Maybe I don’t. Let’s see.
Abby Martin: Abby Martin with the Empire Files. Speaker Pelosi, you just presided over a large increase in the Pentagon budget. The Pentagon budget is already massive. The Pentagon is a larger polluter than 140 countries combined. How can we seriously talk about net zero, if there is this bipartisan consensus to constantly expand this large contributor to climate change, which is exempt from these conferences? Military is exempt from climate talks.
U.S. Representative Frank Pallone (New Jersey): Well, I just want to use an example if I can. You know the sea level rise is an important part of what is happening with the climate, and I am not a defense person, but I’ve had so many talks with the defense department, with the Navy in particular, about how they have to respond to what’s going on. So, I really do think that there is no reason why what we are putting together, you know, with Build Back Better and other things, can’t respond to the defense department and have the same impact in terms of reducing emissions, and I do think that the defense department is aware of the fact that they have to play a major role both from a strategic as well as for the good of the world. So, I don’t see what we are doing, in any way or, you know, in increasing the defense budget, as being something inconsistent with climate action. I really don’t.
Pelosi: And I will just add that national security advisors all tell us that the climate crisis is a national security matter. It is, of course, a health matter for our children, the water they drink, the air they breathe et cetera. It is a jobs issue between good clean technologies being the future of our workforce and the training for all of that. It is a national security issue because of all of the conditions that climate crisis produces. I will not go into all of them, but they are cause for migration conflict over habitat and resources. And again, a security challenge globally, and then the fourth, of course, the moral issue that we need to pass on this planet to future generations in a responsible way. Now, recognizing what you said, we recognize that as well, and a big user of fuel. There have been many initiatives over time more successful with more technology to convert from fossil fuel to other sources of fuel to run the military because it would make the biggest difference. Transportation, defense can make the biggest difference in all of that, and that is something that we are very, very focused on. As I say, the defense department see this systemically that we have to stop this as a national security issue, and one way to do that is to stop our dependence on fossil fuels, which exacerbates the climate crisis. I thank you all for being here. Unfortunately, they are telling us that they have to clean the room. I didn’t know about that.
Social and Psychological Impacts of Climate Devastation
Doherty and Clayton (2011) analyze some psychological impacts of “global climate change.” They consider three categories about direct psychological impacts, which concern traumas coming from changing environments and extreme weather events. They analyze indirect psychological impacts, regarding risks to emotional wellbeing that come from observations of direct impacts and uncertainty of future dangers. Also, they consider psychosocial impacts from chronic problems of droughts, migrations, community effects from heat, climate-related conflicts, and adjustments coming after disasters. Doherty and Clayton (2011, 265) write:
The challenge of climate change calls for increased ecological literacy, a widened ethical responsibility, investigations into a range of psychological and social adaptations, and an allocation of resources and training to improve psychologists’ competency in addressing climate change-related impacts.
Allow me to respond to each of these challenges regarding calls to action. Who exactly needs the ecological literacy, the few or the many?
What has become evident as a need for deep consideration is, however, the impact on “climate devastation” mostly caused by global elites from corporate, political and military powers. Moreover, power elites are so crucial to understand concerning extreme weather events and environmental degradation. These reasons for this concern methods of the superwealthy to cause populaces to misunderstand their intentions, plans and actions. They concern not only wealth inequality but the inequality of fame (i.e., for spreading important messages) and power to make substantial changes to our world.
Significant increases in ecological literacy evidently fails to reach the power elites. Ecological literacy has been an utter failure because corporate, political and military power elites, as individuals, EACH directly control careers of thousands and thousands of employees; they thereby indirectly control their families, too.
The essence of elites’ control over employees is based on their power in the hierarchies of organizations (i.e., business, political and military organizations). Elites dictate where employees work, what they produce, how they produce it, who employees are and how long they work. Presumably, each organization controlled by power elites produces vast amounts of waste through its regular activities and productions. Therefore, either power elites lack ecological literacy, or power elites uphold different sets of values, such as placing greater priority in greed for wealth, fame or power than for environmental friendliness, sustainable practices and future generations.
Without thousands of employees being empowered to democratically make such decisions about who, what, when, where and how work is accomplished, it appears that increases in employees’ ecological literacy would simply make employees feel even more powerless. Thereby employees would be more negatively impacted, psychologically, by their small contributions to planetary destruction.
Who exactly needs a widening of ethical responsibility, the few or the many?
The widening of ethical responsibility, as a call to action, also must include increasingly persistent demands on the corporate, political and military power elites because they lay more waste and worse contamination to our planet.
Ethical knowledge comes in three basic forms. First, there is knowledge of the way things are in the real world in which we live. Second, there comes knowledge of the way things Should Be, in accordance with your own set of moral values. Third, knowledge of how to change the way things are to the way they Should Be, according to your own moral value-set.
Obstacles we confront in our worsening world of natural environments and more extreme weather conditions are the propaganda from mass broadcasts. Propaganda about the amount and intensity of destruction of the living part of the earth is funded by the power elites so that they may continue to misbehave in the same ways that made them more wealthy in the past.
Propaganda tends to underrepresent the amount of destruction there is to our planet, making it difficult for people to realize the priority of changing the way our world is to how it should be.
Who exactly should be investigated in respect to social and psychological adaptations, the few or the many?
More significant investigations of ranges of social and psychological adaptations would focus on global power elites’ roles in climate devastation since, historically, part of the upper socio-economic class, namely, “old wealth,” has retained its land and other assets, despite worsening living conditions of their fellow countrymen and women. Thus, there is reason to believe that the ultrawealthy will retain their wealth and at least some of their power, leaving them as the ones who are best suited to make the necessary changes for a future earth that can sustain life with tolerable living conditions.
Improving competency of addressing impacts of climate ad environmental destruction must involve both an intolerance of lifestyles of the rich, powerful and famous as well as changes in their sets of moral values, changing their priorities to focus on sustainable living practices, such as indigenous ways, restorations of natural environments and changes in the priorities of their moral value-sets.
Assessment of the Problem of Climate Destruction
The Pentagon has been using between 100 and 200 billion barrels of oil per year for the last decade. Military bases and installments have increased to approximately 1,000 across Europe, Asia, Central and South America, and many new ones in Africa. Moreover, one-third of the global exports for weapons of war and ammunition come from major U.S. companies. Weapons and ammo of war are the largest U.S. exports. Russian arms global exports are slightly under one-fourth of the world’s weapons exports. They are destructive to the living part of the earth, killing large portions of it and simultaneously making those portions of the earth infertile for life thereafter.
1. There are tragically high rates of extinction of multiple species and at increasingly alarming rates.
2. The increase in nuclear weapons by multiple countries is increasing the threat of the obliteration of all human life.
3. Increases in the frequencies and intensities of violence globally, coinciding with excessive competitiveness at workplaces, workplace violence and increases in violence on television, online, newspapers, Hollywood productions etc.
4. There is a dangerous global and excessively competitive race between arms manufacturers from different nations. Military-grade arms and ammo are being used continuously in other nations after strategies and tactics with political theater. They lead to the massive destruction and death of large parts of the living earth. Contamination and pollution from military transport and constructions are massive. In North America and Central America, weapons and ammo of war continue to be collected and utilized by U.S. police, for instance, which militarizes domestic law enforcement. Also, Mexican drug cartels (e.g., especially Cartél de Jalisco Nueva Generación) are accumulating vast collections of military weapons and equipment.
5. Apart from militaries, the most extensive polluters on the planet are the power elites. The global power elites fly via their own private jets, for example, from their mansions to hotels and to their yachts. Therefore, decreasing the overall amount of pollution requires IMMENSE changes in the habitual lifestyles of excessively wealthy individuals.
The power elites travel without limitations and borders around the planet. Power elites are not like any other citizen because they each control the livelihoods of thousands of people. They produce the most waste per person on the planet.
6. Power elites have marketing advertisements and news propaganda that both supports them and the continuation of their lifestyles. Their lifestyles increase climate devastation. Via ads and propaganda through news outlets, which they own, they attack anyone who is viewed as being in opposition to them.
Power elites own the mass media and news that is mainstream. They own the weapons manufacturing factories as major stockholders. They also promote smaller but partial ownership of weapons and news companies so that a large portion of the populace is also invested in the mass media and weapons companies.
7. They own most of what there is to own. The power elites create massive misconceptions regarding many things. They are the causers of dangerous political ideologies, supporting their greedy self-interests of wealth, fame and/or power. They lead the deviously well-selected people to fool others into voting and supporting candidates who are against their best interests. They are responsible for changes of our politicians who got into the political career with “good intentions,” morally speaking, into the facilitators of massive climate and environmental devastation.
Misconceptions of U.S. politicians
1. There is a misconception in the quote above by U.S. politician, Frank Pallone, about increased military spending. He attempts to spread misinformation about how changes can be made with human activities to help cultivate the environment and restore or maintain the climate. However, his points is that the military can do it because it is a national security issue. Instead, it is an issue of safety, and the militaries are the organizations that are making the entire planet less safe.
The problem-solvers will not be able to have a successful solution to the global climate and environmental problem via increases in military technologies for war and security. There are examples of militaries around the world
Climate devastation is a matter of safety, efficiency and fairness with professional ethics rather than a security issue.
2. Another misconception in the quotes above is that the militaries are doing good in the world.
While it is possible for militaries to plant trees and restore the fertility in environments, militaries tend to be destructive forces toward environments.
The problem-solvers will have to find ways to increase professionalism at workplaces. Increasing professionalism means improving the safety, efficiency, fairness and professional communications at workplaces. Since the safety to our planet is at risk because of militaries, solutions will have to be made to increase safety, especially via massive reductions of military spending as an international collaborative effort, and to increase fairness.
To have security for a group of people, the group must possess the knowledge of the threats to the group. However, the major threat in the case of climate devastation (i.e., an impending risk for the whole planet) are the actions of the group responsible for security and defense of itself and those peoples that it has selected to secure. Therein lies the misconception.
The people who have been selected to have increases in their own security produced by the Pentagon are the corporate, military and political power elites. Nancy Pelosi serves as one example of a political power elite who serves the corporate and military power elites with her votes for increases in funding for the Pentagon. In turn, this increases the prices of stocks of the major weapons manufacturers and increases the power of the military power elites to engage in wars. Moreover, there are ongoing and historical agreements to increase military funding by the political power elites from the major political parties, which is the “bipartisan consensus” mentioned above.
Greed, therefore, is a major cause with respect to climate devastation, and it has three important modes. Wealth: First, wealth is sought greedily by the corporate power elites, and this is accomplished via investments in the major firms for weapons of war in exchange for increasing dividends and stock prices for war profiteers. Power: Second, power is sought greedily by the military and political power elites who are given advantages either for militarily using the weapons and ammo of war or making the political decisions for more war and more military funding to increase the exchange value of stocks of war-profiteering companies. Fame: Third, fame is sought greedily and easily gained via having either wealth or power.
Solutions: International collaboration is necessary, especially between the USA and Russia, in order to reduce the arms and ammo race and to reduce the frequency and intensity of war. The USA and Russia compose more than half of the world’s exports of weapons and ammo of war.
Money and banking must undergo significant changes to increase the sizes of middle classes around the world. Having money and banking benefit the wealthy has historically involved higher interest rates for accounts that have more money in them. So, when one has more money, it is easier to make more money via the accumulation of interest. Also, there are lower interest rates for accounts with less money in them, historically speaking, and oftentimes individuals with less money in a bank are required to pay more for banking fees and services than they can accumulate through interest on their bank accounts.
Having state and national banks as well as cooperative banks would require private banks to compete with banking services that are of greater benefits to families, for example. With some cooperative banks, a limited number of shares to each client who wants them, and the bank is responsible for buying goods in bulk at cheaper prices and selling them to make profits each year for the its shareholders. However, the shares do not decrease in value, and the interest that is gained is not accumulative, but each year each client of the co-op bank receives about 5% interest on his or her shares. When a child is born, the parents take the child to the bank and buy the maximum number of shares to collect the year interest and to have extra security in the savings.
Financial advisors, especially in the USA, are amassing clients’ savings and investing them in companies directly involved in climate devastation, such as the oil and gas companies, concrete, luxury private jets and yachts and weapons companies. Knowledge of this is required in several respects. The people must know that they are invested in companies that are are destructive and wasteful with respect to environments and climate. Other people must have a way of recognizing who the owners are and holding them accountable for environmental destruction and climate devastation caused by their investments.
Doherty, Thomas & Clayton, Susan. (2011). “The psychological impacts of global climate change. American Psychologist. 66, 4: 265-76.
Cite this article: Brant, William Allen. (2022). “Pressing Climate Devastation: Causes, Problems, Misconceptions and Solutions.” Ethical Conflict Consulting. April edition. https://ethicalconflictconsulting.com/conflict-management/climate-devastation/