How climate change impacts people in the U.S.

Last year in March, a huge percentage of people in this country ranked five other topics more dangerous than climate change according to a 2013 Pew Research study.

Of those five topics, only one was a real threat to the working class of the U.S.

Ranked according to what people found most troubling were North Korea, Islam, Iran, international financial instability, China and then climate change.

The workers and oppressed have every reason to rate financial instability among their top worries. The tendency of low-wage capitalism to drive down wages and pummel the living standards of the global working class is very real. And very serious.

All other topics on the list are issues cooked in imperialism’s propaganda pots. The twist on these issues is meant solely to confuse, derail and lie to the people of this country.

It is indeed stunning that North Korea, which is no threat at all, troubles people more than the global economic crisis, at least according to this study.

On the other hand, climate change is an issue where the masses of the U.S. and the world are undeniably being forced to brutally bear the brunt of a crisis they did not create. Even though the voracious capitalist class is the main culprit causing climate change, the workers are paying for it the most.

Climate change is here and now

On May 6, a panel of scientists issued a damning report titled the “National Climate Assessment.” It was unveiled at the White House and President Barack Obama referred to the report in interviews throughout that day.

According to the report, every corner of the U.S. without an exception is feeling the effects of climate change.

The May 6 New York Times reported that water is “growing scarcer in dry regions, torrential rains increasing in wet regions, heat waves becoming more common and more severe, wildfires growing worse, and forests are dying under assault from heat-loving insects.”

The scientists stated that these sweeping changes have been caused “by an average warming of less than 2 degrees Fahrenheit over most land areas of the country.”

“Climate change, once considered an issue for the distant future, has moved firmly into the present,” the scientists asserted. “Climate change presents a major challenge for society,” the report continued. “There is mounting evidence that harm to the nation will increase substantially in the future unless global emissions of heat trapping gases are greatly reduced.”

The findings of the panel included the dramatic rise of the frequency of torrential rains. A case in point was the devastating floods of 2010 that caused extensive damage to Nashville, Tenn., and other cities in the region.

Twenty inches of rain fell in two days. Over 20 people from several Southern states died as a result of the aggressive waters. According to Nashville city agencies, the flood cost an estimated $2 billion in damages in that city alone. Thousands of people lost their homes or experienced heavy damages from water-soaked living conditions.

The NCA report also called attention to the landslide that killed dozens in Washington state after heavy rains fell there. And there are further examples of mass suffering in the U.S. resulting from extreme weather that accompanies serious changes in climate.

Exactly one week after this report, the CNA Corporation’s Military Advisory Board, a government-funded military research organization, published its findings and concluded that “the accelerating rate of climate change poses a severe risk to national security and acts as a catalyst for global political conflict.”

State Department’s criminal response

The report gave the examples of drought in the Middle East and Africa, which led to conflicts over water and food. Rising sea levels in highly vulnerable coastal regions such as those in Vietnam, Bangladesh and India are placing huge numbers of people at risk for food and safety. All this easily leads to an increase in forced migration and “a new wave of refugees.”

According to the Huffington Post, the Center for Naval Analyses and its Military Advisory Board are comprised of a group of 16 retired three- and four-star generals and admirals.

Secretary of State John Kerry, who is scheduled to give a major address on climate change this summer, had this to say about both reports:

“Tribes are killing each other over water today. … Think of what happens if you have massive dislocation, or the drying up of the waters of the Nile, of the major rivers in China and India. The intelligence community takes it seriously, and it’s translated into action.”

Continuing, Kerry said that the report’s findings “would influence [U.S.] foreign policy.” The report also assumed that catastrophic climate change events would create more demand for U.S. troops.

This warmongering tone complements the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, which in its report issued in March noted a direct link between “the effects of global warming and terrorism.”

“These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad, such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions — conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence,” the review said.

Climate change demands mass intervention

In 1992, over 20 years ago, Fidel Castro, the beloved leader of Cuba and architect of the Cuban Revolution, at the Earth Summit in Brazil warned the world about the looming climate change crisis:

“An important biological species — humankind — is at risk of disappearing due to the rapid and progressive elimination of its natural habitat. We are becoming aware of this problem when it is almost too late to prevent it.

“Tomorrow will be too late to do what we should have done a long time ago.”

Cuba is the most sustainable nation in the world. Fidel and the Cuban Revolution have put into practice what others only preach.

In contrast, U.S. imperialism’s answer to the climate crisis is clearly more money for the Pentagon, more intervention, death, destruction and the militarization of the world.

The only solution is to take heed of those in the so-called Third World who are in motion around the climate issues.

The masses of people must rise up with our sisters and brothers in India, Bolivia and elsewhere and demand that the capitalist class stop now its ravages of Mother Earth.

When John Kerry speaks this summer on climate change, the climate justice movement, the anti-war and progressive movement should join with unions and others to tell Kerry in no uncertain terms: “No more war on the world! No more U.S. troops anywhere!”

Revolutionary climate activists have it right: change the system, not the ­climate. n