March 12, 2013 / by emptywheel


James Clapper Sneaks Climate Change — But Not Bankster Speculation — Into His Threat Assessment

You wouldn’t know it by looking at his written statement, which lists Cyber, Terrorism and Transnational Crime, Counterintelligence, and Counterspace before it lists Natural Resource Insecurity, but water and food insecurity was actually the first threat Director of National Intelligence James Clapper described in today’s Worldwide Threat Hearing.

That said, in his spoken statement, he didn’t utter the words “climate change.”

Though those words do appear in the written statement, as a subcategory of resource scarcity, as follows:

Food security has been aggravated partly because the world’s land masses are being affected by weather conditions outside of historical norms, including more frequent and extreme floods, droughts, wildfires, tornadoes, coastal high water, and heat waves. Rising temperature, for example, although enhanced in the Arctic, is not solely a high-latitude phenomenon. Recent scientific work shows that temperature anomalies during growing seasons and persistent droughts have hampered agricultural productivity and extended wildfire seasons. Persistent droughts during the past decade have also diminished flows in the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Niger, Amazon, and Mekong river basins.

Note: the head of our intelligence community seems to have missed that “persistent droughts” have not only diminished flows in the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Niger, Amazon, and Mekong river basins. Last year’s drought also diminished flows right here in the US, in the Missouri-Mississippi basin.

I guess somehow the US is exempt from climate change, intelligence folks?

I’m glad Clapper got climate change in his statement, I’m glad he put water and food scarcity at the front of his presentation (last year just water scarcity appeared in his written statement). But if we’re going to treat climate change merely as one underlying factor contributing to resource scarcity, perhaps we should also look at bankster speculation, which is increasingly recognized as a key driver of rising food costs. Food speculation, after all, is something we can do a great deal to fix, here in the US. But we have refused to do so, choosing instead to deal with the instability that results.

Ah well, baby steps, people. The Director of National Intelligence just implicitly said that climate change and resource scarcity is the most urgent problem facing us. I’ll take it.

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