Obama is poised to intervene in Syria, morally outraged by the Syrian government's chemical assault on its citizens. What seems at first glance a clear cut moral issue is, from a larger perspective, participation in the global failure cascade of Climate Destabilization. This regional horror is symptomatic of a broader process of global genocide into which we are being drawn.

The political unrest in Syria is rooted in widespread farming failure due to Climate Destabilization.

The crunch came in the context of an intensifying and increasingly regular drought cycle linked to climate change. Between 2002 and 2008, the country's total water resources dropped by half through both overuse and waste.

Once self-sufficient in wheat, Syria has become increasingly dependent on increasingly costly grain imports, which rose by 1m tonnes in 2011-12, then rose again by nearly 30% to about 4m in 2012-13. The drought ravaged Syria's farmlands, led to several crop failures, and drove hundreds of thousands of people from predominantly Sunni rural areas into coastal cities traditionally dominated by the Alawite minority.

The exodus inflamed sectarian tensions rooted in Assad's longstanding favouritism of his Alawite sect – many members of which are relatives and tribal allies – over the Sunni majority. [emphasis mine] source


This is humanity on Climate Destabilization. This is how Climate Destabilization unfolds. As environment resources supporting our lives collapse, preexisting social conflicts explode. Conflict resulting from resource depletion brings out the worst in humanity, as war has always done. War-making is intoxicating. Human "enemies" are easy for our ancient instincts to comprehend, as a focus for our rage. Both sides escalate until one sinks to mass atrocity.

The failure cascade of our planet's climate includes OUR social, political, and psychological responses. What we do in response to a deteriorating environment is an inherent component of the destructive process.

To see only the atrocities, ignoring the environment-based forces that push human beings to commit them, is morally naive. Every one of us is capable of committing atrocity with enough pressure, after years of deteriorating conditions, feeling that we must protect our families, our way of life, and everything we hold dear. When we become hopeless and desperate, we turn into monsters. (See Chris Hedges War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning)

Focus on the bottom line. The underlying cause is fossil fuel dependence gradually making our planet uninhabitable. Any military intervention increases fossil fuel use, generating a vicious cycle of its own. It also diverts funds away from clean energy programs.

What is an appropriate moral response?

  • Reframe the issue to focus on what's driving people on both sides of the conflict.  Avoid demonizing and blame.
  • Channel moral outrage on all sides into stopping the underlying process, supporting a global program to switch from fossil fuel to renewables.

It's time to see that "Climate Change" isn't just changes in the air and water, it's "People Change" in the worst sense. Climate Change is People Change! Got it?

Our response to Syria is a critical tipping point. We will either make climate destabilize even faster or channel our outrage constructively. Put another way we will take another step toward being monsters ourselves by trying to rescue perceived victims from perceived enemies, or we'll  take a baby step toward globally responsible mature humanity.

image source(from unrelated topic)

ADDENDUM

If you want to tell congress that you'll refuse to reelect any member who votes for war on Syria go to Peace Voter Pledge

Tags: Climate Change, Climate Destabilization, Syria, failure cascade, military intervention, moral framing

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Apparently the UN has finished it's investigation into the atrocity and has sufficient evidence that a chemical attack took place. However, Russia has pointed out that this evidence does not prove who did it. I don't think the U.S should take military action of it's own volition with only French support. Britain is staying out and the U.N has not committed itself to Syria to date.

I do not support military intervention in Syria. Too many soldiers from Western countries have lost their lives, limbs and sanity from their governments decision to intervene in conflict in Muslim lands.If we have to meet them in battle, it should be on the defensive if at all. The West is being drained by Muslim conflicts and we can't afford to keep going to war. Sure, there is the issue of petrol but I don't think it's worth the fight any more. In future, when Americans get hungry, they can walk to Chick-Fil-A or take a bus.

Of course, there is always Israel but they have their own weapons of mass destruction and it's time they defend themselves without U.S support. If Israel has a genuine hegemony it will stand the test of time

             Peace Man ! Peace now !

Well stated, Napoleon.  I agree that any outside Western military intervention should be avoided.  A military strike does not solve any underlying problems and only further exasperates an already volatile situation. 

As much as I hate seeing the increased loss of life and human carnage, this is a situation that needs to be dealt with internally within the Syrian borders.  The West and the U.S. need to learn that supporting a particular preferred Middle Eastern regime over another is not worth our sacrifice and has never paid off in the long term.  We are constantly getting dragged into local skirmishes and setting aside our humanitarian principals in order to support one inhumane government over another. 

I am fed up with the constant accusation of being the world's bully, yet constantly being called upon to intervene and be the world's police.

There are just as many human injustices occurring in Africa but we seldom send our military there.  Why?  Because our oil doesn't come from Africa.  Our hypocrisy is just as inhumane. 

I agree very good point Napoleon

To see only the atrocities, ignoring the environment-based forces that push human beings to commit them, is morally naive.... "Climate Change" [is] "People Change" in the worst sense.

Focusing on military action against "isolated" atrocities is like prescribing (dangerous) painkillers without diagnosing or treating the underlying disease.

False equivalency.  If a gang is beating up someone in an alley, do you analyze the gang's motivations and root causes, or do you call the cops and STOP THEM, and THEN take preventive action?

Equivalencies, whether false or true, might be irrelevant.

Our highly-privileged military-industrial complex might be wanting to test a new generation of weapons.

Well put, Grinning Cat!

I think the analogy to a gang beating up an individual in an alley is flawed. It's more like a cage full of rats attacking one another because of an experimental treatment.

So ... Assad deploys chemical weapons against his own people and there is no response ... so he can go do it again (and don't doubt but that he will) and there will again be no response?  Rather like what Saddam Hussein did against the Kurds, except that Assad has done this more than once ... charming.

Whether this is fallout from climate instability or not, Ruth, letting this abhorrent business go on without answer is despicable.  We talk a lot about bullies in other fora and not letting them get away with it, yet we wash our hands of Syria because we don't want to get involved?

Don't expect me to sign up for this one.

I never said there should be no response, I said the response should be global mobilization for green energy instead of military attack.

A key difference between these two modes of response is that one reinforces the actor's moral superiority (I rescue you from a demonized enemy) while the other accepts

collective responsibility and avoids the language of blame. Changing the economic foundation of civilization from fossil fuels to renewables is a massive response showing greater empathy for the victims than war-making. It's taking what happened to them VERY SERIOUSLY. It's far more difficult than a military incursion, economically and psychologically. It requires us to examine our personal actions, our collective actions, and even our identities in relation to this atrocity.

Global mobilization for green energy is a LONG-TERM remedy which requires time to implement.  It will not save the Syrians from subsequent chemical or conventional attacks by Bashar al-Assad, nor can it, and I continue to assert that it by itself is no cure.

In engineering, we learn that dynamic systems operate under transient and steady-state conditions and that both must be solved for in order for proper operation of those systems.  This situation, like so many others before it, are no different.  If no action is taken against the aggressor, he will continue to act out either until his goals are met or until a counter-force to stop him is brought to bear.  Once that transient issue is dealt with, THEN you can talk about long-term curative solutions to prevent recurrence, but you need BOTH ACTIONS.

You have a point, Loren. I offer no solution to deter future actions of Bashar al-Assad against his citizens. However, I think reframing the conflict in terms of the global issue is a necessary condition for long term stability.

If Assad is removed from power, whoever replaces his will still have to contend with the climate change-based problems such as a third of the country starving. Is it really a transient condition we're observing? Without reframing the conflict and international organization/action, how will any leader with the resources of Syria recreate a steady-state condition?

... by 2011, between two and three million people were starving in a country with a total population of 10 million. That's nearly a third of Syria, starved by climate change.

As Yaneer Bar-Yam's influential work with food prices at the Complex Systems Institute has shown, as the price of food rises—and millions of erstwhile subsistence farmers who've since flocked to cities to compete for low-paying jobs can't afford it—the prospect of riots and violence become increasingly likely. This is what happened in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

Considering Syria's path to war, step-by-step, provides a powerful breakdown of what might continue to happen in the future, so as long as the globe continues to warm, the food system continues to be in thrall to commodity traders and market swings, and vast swaths of the global population remain impoverished.

Reverse engineer this tragic mess, and you find that it starts with a warming globe, with scorched farmland, with hungry mouths, and then with the ruthless despot. 

So this is our mess too. We're still cranking away at the carbon pump, and no nation is as culpable as the United States—and as long as we do, we'll be at least in some small part, responsible for the starving, rioting masses all the way across the globe. If we're so dead set on intervention, maybe we should be focusing less on missiles and more on clean energy. [emphasis mine]

How Climate Change Warmed Syria Up for War

C'mon, Loren, you won't get drafted.

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