Thinkpiece #2

Who are the major players in climate change? Which countries feel the worst pressure of rising temperatures and who should carry the burden of fixing the problem? These questions have proven to be almost impossible to answer, and the authors from this week’s readings might concur. Overall, the consensus is that the Global South suffers because of the greed and self-interests of the Global North, especially in examples of corporate interests (i.e Shell Oil), which Buxton and Hayes go into some detail about in their chapter. These interests have only led to increasing conflict and further policies to mitigate problems resulted in no progress. For this reason, Watts, Parenti, and Maas call for peace-building initiatives and on the ground, bottoms-up (not top-down) approaches,

Many of the readers we studied have moved beyond Malthusianism and have called generally for a bottoms-up, collaborative and cooperative approach to ensuring environmental security for all members of the global community, with the lasting climatic effects of the Global South their main argument for such movements. The catastrophism thinking driven by Thomas Malthus, the notion that population and resource levels need to be stabilized long term, is not the answer to climate change. This idea, based on the knowledge our global population will ultimately outgrow our resources, only leads to more violence, chaos, and collapse.

Christian Parenti might agree with this statement. In the first part of his book “Tropic of Chaos”, he talks about something he called the politics of the armed lifeboat. Climate change, he argues, will continue to hurt countries of the Global South and developed countries will continue to have power, specifically militarized power, to control what is left of the world’s resources. Increase in civil warfare will eventually occur, such an increase in humanitarian crisis, civil war, religious wars, and state breakdown, and military armed forces will be forced to respond in ways such as counter-insurgency. Parenti argues developed countries will build a sense of green xenophobia, and social issues, including racism, police brutality, and surveillance, will continue to rise.

This was exemplified in his first page example of the death of Ekaru Loruman, making it clear militarism and the Malthusian approach is not the correct response to climate change crises.

Buxton and Hayes agree with Parenti, and also argue that climate change is overlooked when it comes to violent conflicts, especially in developing countries. Environmental crisis, they argue, is “colliding with the twin legacies of Cold War militarism and unbridled free market economics”, enhancing existing conflicts and creating new forms of violence all together. Nigeria, for example, has experienced militarism accompanied by oil extraction, and has led not only to devastation but also resistance.  This follows the thinking of the politics of the armed conflict, for those who have resources, no matter how, why or at what cost, will continue to control them and undeveloped countries will continue to face violence.

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