Wednesday, February 27, 2013

''PO FI" is ''polar fiction'' through the ages: sometimes sci fi, sometimes cli fi, sometimes just a story or a novel set in the polar regions or based on a famous polar expedition of times gone by...

In the last few months I've read four novels set in Antarctica. One  which I can recommend highly is A Brief History of the Dead  which The concerns a young scientist who finds herself trapped in Antarctica when a global disaster strikes the rest of the world.

  1. Polar Fiction




  5.  Selected fiction with Polar, Antarctic, or Arctic themes, ...

  6. 1838,

    The Narrative of Arthur G Pym of Nantucket,

    Edgar Allen Poe


  7. 2011 ''Fusion'' by Colin Hazlehurst  The northern hemisphere is wiped out by natural disaster and war, civilization in Antarctica only
  8. wha'ts your favorite fiction set in polar lands? | North and South ...

    2010 Fracture Lines David Wandless US Vice Pres. secretly plans to nuke Ant., so it melts, raising seas & wiping out the US' economic competitors, esp. India & China

  9. 2012 ''Arctic Fire'' by Stephen Frey Secret American intelligence group in the Arctic

    I guess I'll have to say The Terror by Dan Simmons as it's the only fiction book I've read set in a polar region. I'll be looking into some of the ...
  10. 2009 Ice-Shedding of Ages Kauko Loukas Greenland glacier bursts causing problems

2010 Solar by Ian McEwan Unpleasant Nobel-winning physicist gets involved with global warming, including a trip to the Arctic

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Scott Thill on CLI FI as a new subgenre of SCI FI

''I call it Cli-Fi. Few want me to.'' - Scott Thill Tweets

RE  @newinquiry: “Literary works that forefront climate change just now emerging in the American mainstream.”

NOTE to Scott and NewInquiry: See Judith Curry's blog on all this, and see Margaret Atwood's tweet on cli fi as a new literary genre which she tweeted in 2011.

As for who coined the term and when, the jury is still out on this one and it's hard to pin down exactly.

Scott Thill used the term first in 2009. Are any readers of this blog aware of anyone use the term CLI FI for climate fiction earlier than 2009?

It would seem that someone might have coined the term even before 2009, but so far we cannot find any references online. However, research continues.

Climate Change Will Slashe Labor Capacity By 10 Percent, Study Says

NOAA Study says: A Hotter, Wetter Climate Will Slash Labor Capacity 10%

By Deborah Zabarenko
Earth’s increasingly hot, wet climate has cut the amount of work people can do in the worst heat by about 10 percent in the past six decades, and that loss in labor capacity could double by 2050, some U.S. government scientists reported.

Because warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air, there’s more absolute humidity in the atmosphere now than there used to be. And as anyone who has sweltered through a hot, muggy summer knows, it’s more stressful to work through hot months when the humidity is high.

To figure out the stress of working in hotter, wetter conditions, experts from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration looked at military and industrial guidelines already in place for heat stress, and set those guidelines against climate projections for how hot and humid it’s likely to get over the next century.

Their findings were stark: “We project that heat stress-related labor capacity losses will double globally by 2050 with a warming climate,” said lead author John Dunne of NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in Princeton. He intimated as well that if nothing is done to stem the tide, the Lower 48 of the USA could very well become unlivable by 2300 AD or 2500 AD at the latest, and millions will have to trek north to Alaska to find shelter in so-called POLAR CITIES in Alaska, Canada and Russia, which will serve as safe refuges for survivors of climate chaos in the distant future. [See Jim Laughter's cli fi novel POLAR CITY RED and Stephan Malone's POLAR CITY DREAMING, both books published now, for more background on Dunne's study.]

Work capability is already down to 90 percent during the most hot and humid periods, Dunne and his co-authors wrote in the journal Nature Climate Change. Using a middle-of-the-road projection of future temperature and humidity, they estimate that could drop to 80 percent by 2050.

A more extreme scenario of future global warming, which estimated a temperature rise of 10.8 degrees F (6 degrees C), would make it difficult to work in the hottest months in many parts of the world, Dunne said at a telephone briefing.

Labor capacity would be all but eliminated in the lower Mississippi Valley and most of the United States east of the Rocky Mountains would be exposed to heat stress “beyond anything experienced in the world today,” he said.


Under this scenario, heat stress in New York City would exceed that of present-day Bahrain, while in Barhrain, the heat and humidity could cause hyperthermia—potentially dangerous overheating— even in sleeping people who were not working at all.

Humans are endothermic creatures, which means they give off heat. If they can’t get rid of it faster than they create it, they go into hyperthermia. Typically, humans cool off by doing less heat-producing activity, but it may get so hot and humid that even a sleeping person wouldn’t be able to dissipate heat fast enough.

“This planet will start experiencing heat stress that’s unlike anything experienced today,” said Ronald Stouffer, a co-author of the study. He also intimated as well that if nothing is done to stem the tide, the Lower 48 of the USA could very well become unlivable by 2300 AD or 2500 AD at the latest, and millions will have to trek north to Alaska to find shelter in so-called POLAR CITIES in Alaska, Canada and Russia, which will serve as safe refuges for survivors of climate chaos in the distant future. [See Jim Laughter's cli fi novel POLAR CITY RED and Stephan Malone's POLAR CITY DREAMING, both books published now, for more background on Dunne's study.]

The only way to retain labor capacity, Dunne said, is to limit global warming to less than 5 degrees F (3 degrees C).

Global average temperature has risen by about 1.2 degrees F (0.7 degree C) compared to pre-industrial times. It is likely to rise another 1.8 degrees F (1 degree C) by mid-century, Dunne said.

The way some workers already adapt to heat stress – taking a siesta during the hottest hours of the day, working outdoor jobs like construction at night when temperatures drop or ceasing work entirely during periods of peak heat and humidity—could migrate to places where heat stress is increasing.

The U.S. West Coast and Northern Europe are likely to be two of the regions that will be affected last by the trend toward more hot and humid climate, the scientists said.

Part of the issue is how well-adapted certain regions are to extreme heat stress, Dunne said.

As an example, he noted that some 70,000 people were killed during a disastrous 2003 heat wave in Europe, where heat stress was highly unusual. However, the same kind of stress was normal for a place like India, where a similar heat wave killed 3,000.

“It’s very regionally dependent and highly determined by adaptation,” Dunne said.

To: "Ronald.Stouffer",

Cc: "deborah.zabarenko"

(Reporting by Deborah Zabarenko; Editing by Eric Walsh' Rewriting by Danny Bloom)

Monday, February 25, 2013

The ''cli fi'' novel in a time of climate change

The past dozen have seen a significant increase in cli fi and po fi novels focusing on climate change.

Novels by renowned writers such as Margaret Atwood, David Brin, Ian McEwan, Hamish MacDonald and Doris Lessing -- and by relatively unknown writers such as Jim Laughter, Stephan Malone and Clara Hume -- have all tackled this complex issue.

The multi-faceted nature of climate change as both a scientific and cultural phenomenon has resulted in an increasingly radical and experimental approach to plot, character, setting and structure in the contemporary novel.

Researchers at the University of Exeter are leading the way in the literary analysis of climate change and cli fi novels as a cultural phenomenon.

Dr Adeline Johns-Putra, Senior Lecturer in English at the University of Exeter’s Cornwall Campus, is working with
Dr Adam Trexler, a postdoctoral research fellow in English, to explore how and why literature is changing in response to climate change.
Dr Johns-Putra and Dr Trexler are working with scientists and geographers from the University on a cross-disciplinary project funded by the European Social Fund, entitled ‘From Climate to Landscape: Imagining the Future’. They are also participating in a conference entitled ‘New Climes: Critical Theory, Environmentalism and Climate Change’, which will see leading humanities’ academics debate the role of literary theory in understanding climate change at the Cornwall Campus.

The complexity of climate change is a challenge to conventional modes of representation, and cli fi writers are responding with innovations in character and plot, according to Dr Johns-Putra.

She said, “Popular cli fi novels such as the ‘Science the Capital’ trilogy by renowned science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson provide an excellent example of this. Robinson overturns our expectation of how novels work because of the demanding nature of his subject matter. For instance, most novels rely on a hero. Yet, Robinson gives us no obvious hero, no simple caricature of the scientist who will either save or destroy the world. Instead, he produces an ensemble cast. The trilogy’s collective hero is the community of scientists, or indeed science itself, rather than just one person.”

Robinson challenges ideas of plot development and setting, inserting meticulous descriptions of scientists, politicians and funders, who are the actors on the expansive platform that climate change demands, she added. Even the impressive length of the trilogy is unusual in contemporary popular fiction, as he returns to ideas of the epic novel in order to deal with the massive scale of the problem of climate change.

Dr Johns-Putra said, ”Rather than a linear narrative working to a dramatic ending or resolution, there is no obvious conclusion or solution offered by writers like Robinson. Writers such as Robinson show that there is no utopia when it comes to the current environmental crisis. For Robinson, utopia is what he would refer to as a work in progress rather than an end result.”

Dr Johns-Putra’s research has so far been published in the two journals, the WIREs Climate Change and English Studies. It was also presented at the fourth Utopias conference 2010 in Melbourne, Australia, at which Robinson was an invited speaker. Robinson, one of science fiction’s most distinguished and acclaimed writers, has often made clear his views on the need for academics in the sciences and humanities to work together to understand climate change.

Robinson said “Climate change will be the overriding story of the 21stcentury, and everyone alive today and for years to come will have to deal with it. It is by nature a multi-disciplinary effort, and no matter what you are interested in or what gives your life meaning, climate change will become a part of it. So it's best to start telling the stories as soon as possible, to prepare ourselves for the inevitable changes we have already set in motion."

The ''CLI FI ''Novel: A Simulator of Environmental Politics, pPo and Con?

Cli fi, po fi, whatever, the climate wars heat up, and literature reflects this, too

By Adam Trexler
on November 7, 2011
Adam Trexler is an independent scholar and social entrepreneur, having previously held research and professorial posts at the University of Exeter and Queen Mary, University of London. He is currently completing a book, Anthropocene Fictions, for the University of Virginia Press, and has written a number of articles on climate change and literature. Another monograph, exploring how a radical socialist journal called The New Age shaped modernist poetry, is currently under revision.

His current projects aim to make gold investment available to all people and to create a shift to ethically-sourced gold.

Over the last 30 years or so, more than 200 CLI FI novels have been written that try to imagine our future in a climate-changed world. Novels are fanciful by nature, doomsaying or utopian, and would never be confused for serious policy arguments. However, these 200+ novels, taken as a whole, indicates some of the fundamental difficulties we have in articulating a just and sustainable future. Call it CLI FI for climate fiction or in some cases, PO FI, for polar fiction (see Hamish MacDonald's FINITUDE in 2010, or Jim Laughter's POLAR CITY RED in 2012, for example)

Despite decades spent talking about climate change, our culture remains mired in political uncertainty. Anthony Giddens recently described the crux of the problem as follows: An effective response to global warming must be multilateral, but we lack the institutions, mechanisms, and international relationships needed to make progress. Simply put, we lack a politics of climate change.

Imagining what could fill this gap has proved as problematic as predicting the physical climate. The IPCC has long used emissions scenarios—narratives about policy, technology, population, the economy, and emissions—to describe climate outcomes. While no particular scenario is likely to come true 100 percent, the scenarios help describe some of the complex interactions we should expect.

What the emissions scenarios struggle to incorporate is a deeper level of complexity: the interrelated personal, aesthetic, social, and political choices people make as they react to changes in the climate around them. Novels typically explore this very range, tracing the interactions between personal perspectives and the larger forces of society, politics, and environment.

The majority of climate change novels are not explicitly political, though they do tend to engage with the fundamental argument over our need to act. Those who would delay cutting emissions typically assert that climate change won't be disastrous, particularly because our grandchildren will be richer, equipped with new technologies, and thus better able to adapt. Persuading people of the need to act involves shifting "the perceived trade-off between damage and cost," and addressing the harm done by present emissions to future generations.

Dystopia has become a common technique for s h o c k i n g people. Thus in Cormac McCarthy's The Road, we see that scorched earth has led to the collapse of the state, bands of roving cannibals, and murder over canned food. In Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower, small armed bands of religious devotees fight water thieves and drug-crazed rapists in desertified California. In The Book of Dave by Will Self, a flooded Great Britain is governed by a benighted, repressive, medieval state.

I've only found one climate change novel that describes, in detail, a successful ecological revolution, and it's also, hands down, the worst.

While IPCC emissions scenarios and other policy literature assume the state will persist and continue to make "rational choices" about greenhouse gas emissions, novels like these describe how climate change threatens the basic operation of our economies, democracies, and political institutions. The horror of these scenarios acts to shift our political calculation in favor of immediate action. In practice, though, these novels often efface and elide the political dilemmas of the contemporary moment.

A very different set of novels addresses the need for international cooperation on greenhouse gas reduction. From the late 1980s through the Copenhagen climate conference of 2009, many hoped the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change would lead to a meaningful international agreement, comprising "universal participation, binding emissions targets, integrated emissions trading and compensation to poorer countries to get their cooperation." Interestingly, not a single novel I have found follows the path from multilateral negotiation to a binding emissions deal: The complications of the process may well exceed the limits of both fiction and productive diplomacy!

Since the failure of COP15, many have wondered whether bilateral deals might bring more progress, and bilateral negotiations seem to offer the right level of complexity for a suspenseful plot. Clive Cussler's Arctic Drift traces the escalating conflict between Canada, made a rich, pugnacious villain by its tar sands deposits, and an energy-poor, emasculated United States, pairing a sophisticated account of energy production with cartoon politics.

Paolo Bacigalupi's The Windup Girl is a bit more nuanced, describing a future Thai kingdom torn between global enterprise and environmental protectionism. While American agribusiness threatens to colonize the country with private security troops and weaponized crop diseases, the Thai environment ministry violently polices emissions and guards the seeds of its edible plant stocks in an underground vault. Ultimately, Bangkok sinks under the pressure of natural disaster, corporate exploitation, weakened sovereignty, and an impoverished economy, leaving an indelible impression of a developing country in the era of climate change.

Perhaps the most important bilateral relationship is between the United States and China. America's size, massive per capita emissions, and diplomatic reach, along with China's inexorable expansion as the world's biggest emitter, make their participation in any international accord essential, yet both have refused to accept binding targets.

Matthew Glass's Ultimatum dramatizes future climate negotiations between the two superpowers. David Victor has described Ultimatum as "the most insightful look at how [the relationship between the United States and China] might unfold," trumping all existing nonfiction. In 2032, the incoming Democratic president receives a secret briefing from his Republican predecessor: Global warming is accelerating exponentially; if massive emission cuts are not made immediately, whole regions of the United States, as well as whole countries, will become uninhabitable and tens of millions of people will become climate refugees.

President Benton realizes that no meaningful deal will result from the Kyoto process, but pressure from Europe, the UN Secretary-General, and his own party force him to pay lip service to it, even as he pursues secret, bilateral talks with China. Within the American camp, coherent action is delayed by cabinet rivalries, legislative momentum, election cycles, the need to mislead or inspire the public, media leaks, and ideological differences between party strategists, State Department officials, and military generals.

President Benton's negotiators struggle to convince the Chinese of their sincerity. They also have difficulty navigating the internally divided Communist Party, such that they can't tell when their interlocutors are milking them for more concessions and when they genuinely cannot budge. All of this generates tremendous suspense. The negotiators turn belligerent, renege on agreements, and walk out. Economic sanctions build pressure. China invades Taiwan. Military "exercises" engage the enemy and ultimatums are exchanged. Limited nuclear strikes kill millions and threaten mutual destruction. Benton finally stands down and both sides declare victory.

Although the war finally leads to an unprecedented emissions deal, the novel's political portrait is actually nostalgic, invoking comparisons to the Cold War and Cuban Missile Crisis. Worse, the suspense plot all but obscures the fundamental dilemmas of political representation, social justice, global governance, and conservation. A few powerful men must resolve climate change for the world, despite almost insurmountable economic and political obstacles, and only the rhetorical force of nuclear war is able to overcome their inertia. Although Ultimatum presents international diplomacy as the appropriate space for overcoming the crisis, its nihilism about the effectiveness of negotiations calls the whole process into question.

Of course, environmentalists have long questioned whether mainstream political action merely bolsters the legitimacy of a system that is ultimately responsible for environmental degradation. Some even argue that sustainability must be pursued in tandem with direct democracy, since the prescribed emission cuts already amount to "civilization change." There is an abundance of climate change novels that imagine activist resistance to totalitarian repression and the collapse of democratic society. However, novels in this vein tend to realize political progress while neglecting to provide a vision of environmental sustainability.

I've only found one climate change novel that describes, in detail, a successful ecological revolution, and it's also, hands down, the worst. In George Marshall's The Earth Party, global warming makes Britain as hot as Kenya. The country is flooded and the energy infrastructure destroyed. Parliament responds by forming a cross-party coalition and declaring a police state.

The emergency also transforms the Earth Party—a fringe group advocating decentralized democracy and a green lifestyle—into a hierarchical organization controlled by ex-military extremists. After the state declares the new Peoples Earth Party a terrorist organization, it leads a successful revolution, evacuates the cities, and breaks the population into self-sufficient farming groups. In these "Earth Cells," people are policed by an "Earth Guard." Suicides keep the numbers low, leisure time is treated as a disciplinary problem, and supplies are withheld to keep the workers fighting for survival.

The repugnant protagonist relishes his authority as a cell leader before rising through the party and resuming a middle-class lifestyle. PEP policy, it emerges, is guided by a computer model: How it learned to emulate medieval pastoral fantasies, misogynistic dystopias, and Soviet authoritarianism is anyone's guess.

What's least convincing is that the "optimal" Earth Cells just wouldn't work. Cultivating all arable land would decimate wild species, and local self-sufficiency is impossible if unpredictable weather ruins crops. Revolution itself will never stabilize the climate, since the existing greenhouse gases will continue to trap heat for thousands of years.

Despite these faults, The Earth Party does point to a real problem. Our representative democracies and consumer economies depend on choice as a fundamental organizing principle, but can individual choice create the mass consensus, reduction of consumption, and unprecedented social organization needed to respond to climate change?

T. C. Boyle's incisive satire A Friend of the Earth also explores activism in the era of climate change. The novel moves back and forth between two time periods. In 2025, California's climate is "like leaving your car in the parking lot in the sun all day with the windows rolled up and then climbing in and discovering they've been sealed shut—and the doors too." The comfy security of air conditioning, weather insurance, and social security is also long gone. The main character, Ty Tierwater, is in his seventies and still working, managing an aging and eccentric rock star's menagerie of all-but-extinct animals too ugly for anyone else to conserve. When Tierwater's home is swept away in a flash flood along with all the animal pens, they are all forced to take shelter in a new habitat: the rock star's mansion. The animals prowl the twenty-car garage, sleep in piles of shredded rock memorabilia, and are fed decadent cuts of extinct meat from the walk-in freezer.

Much like the recent tragedy of escaped animals in Ohio, a SWAT team mows down the entire collection. With his job now defunct, Tierwater regroups to the Californian wilderness he once loved, only to find the "trees snapped at the base, uprooted and flung a hundred yards by the violence of the winds." Thirty years prior, activists had tried to block environmental "criminals" from destroying vulnerable species, forests, and communities, yet global warming swept them away anyway.

The other strand of the novel examines why the environmental movement failed to stop climate change while there was still time. From 1989 to 1995, Tierwater was a member of Earth Forever!, a "radical enviro group" modeled loosely after Earth First! and locked in a logic of twentieth-century social protest—fighting the logging and energy corporations, their working class employees, and a justice system that defends them. Tierwater's environmental rage is amplified by his own implication in the system: His inherited strip-mall fortune, redwood-sided house with a massive oil burner, Jeep Laredo, and Eddie Bauer habit simultaneously deliver and destroy the nature he wants to protect.

Inspired by Black Power, revolutionary socialists, and ecological saboteurs, Tierwater finds himself in a cycle of imprisonment and revenge. He blocks loggers, attacks police, destroys heavy machinery, topples electrical towers, and finally tries to poison Santa Barbara's water supply. "To be a friend of the earth, you have to be an enemy of the people," he explains. With 30 years of hindsight, the older Tierwater sees his violent tactics as a political failure, exacerbating rage and separating him from all the people chasing "the new and the improved, the super and the imperishable."

While Tierwater serves time, his wife Andrea brings EF! into the mainstream: selling berets, t-shirts, and coffee mugs; directing actions with a clipboard, Evian water, and $300 cowboy boots; wooing big donors with a sleek, black BMW, cocktail parties, and slideshows. By the time Tierwater is let out of jail, Andrea is "knocking down eighty-five thousand dollars a year as a member of E.F.!'s board of directors" and utterly convinced that a 73 percent voter approval rate for the environment will translate into political action.

From the longer perspective of 2025, her misjudgment is clear. While EF! environmentalists were unwilling to give up their luxury cars, kitchen appliances, and suburban ranch houses, the electorate proved even less willing to inflict self-sacrifice.

The Tierwater tragedy repeats itself in countless climate change novels. Radical environmentalism creates an excellent vantage point, outside the system of contemporary capitalism, to understand how difficult it ultimately is to oppose climate change. But 30 years of environmentalism and climate change novels suggest it is very difficult to imagine how environmental activism leads to a new relationship with nature or a social reorganization that excludes fossil fuels. Even so, climate activism indicates the great shortcoming of politics-as-usual, which requires the threat of annihilation to take structural action.

Across the board, the novel has long depended on human conflicts—national, social, and political—to narrate different points of view. Bilateral negotiation, ultimatums, two-party politics, and activist resistance have unfolded along the same logic. However, these recent novels about global warming suggest we need new ways of envisioning political alliances, blending technocratic and utopian aspects of policy.

Unlike policy scenarios that are rooted in the hegemonic institutions of the day, the novel can begin to describe whole systems of interests, and simulate new forms of collective association between individuals, animals, corporations, regions, and countries. Yet after 30 years spent imagining our possible futures, the limits of the genre are starting to bump up against the limits of our political imaginations. Whether or not we successfully respond to global warming, much of the existing order may not survive. Perhaps the time has come to start reflecting on which extinctions we could embrace.

Adam Trexler is a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of Exeter. The research for this article was enabled by the European Social Fund.

Cli Fi as a new literary genre catching on and gathering steam

First came sci fi, and then speculative fiction, a term Margaret Atwood says she prefers to describe her novels, and now comes cli fi, a new subgenre of science fiction that revolves around climate fiction, or cli fi.

Margaret Atwood tweeted in 2011: ''Here's a new term: "Cli-Fi" = SF about climate change.
Coined by Dan Bloom re: ''POLAR CITY RED'':

CLI FI novels are books set either in the distant past or the near or far future which take climate issues and global warming as their themes, from Bruce Sterling to David Brin, from Margaret Atwood to Jim Laughter, from Clara Hume to Gemma Malley. If you search on Wikipedia under dystopian literature or ectopian literature, you will see some lists of over 200 novels that focus on CLI FI over the ages.

Judith Curry, a science professor in Georgia, recently blogged on the CLI FI meme, as did Adam West and others, and not everyone takes the same stand on climate issues, either. Some CLI FI authors are climate denialists, like Adam West, and others, like Jim Laughter, look into the future and see ominous things in store for humankind if we do not get the climate issues under control soon. So CLI FI is not one one monochrome block of color, and it has no one agenda. Climate denialists use the term to denigrate climate activists like Joe Romm and David Roberts, while climate activists -- and climate alarmists and warmists -- use the term to indicate that yes we have a problem here on Earth and time is running out.

What's your take on CLI FI as a new literary genre?

see "Cli-fi and Radical Feminism go together like Czars and..."
on Dec. 22, 2011..........on a blog called

A few questions, too?

1. Who coined the term CLI FI and when and why?
2. What's the first reference online you can find for the CLI FI term?
3. In non-English speaking countries, are there other terms in other languages for CLI FI? For example,
in German or French or Italian or Spanish or Hebnrew or Chinese or Japanese?

UPDATE: a new term has also surfaced on WIKI recently, called PO FI, for polar fiction, and this terms
seems to focus on novels, both pro and con climate change and global warming, that situate the story and locate the characters in polar regions of the world, be it on Antarctica or in the northern reaches of Alaska, Canada, Russia or Norway/ "Po fi" might not have a smooth a time as CLI FI as a new term, but it's catching on, too, and surely Jim Laughter's POLAR CITY RED, as a novel, could be classified as either a CLI FI novel or a PO FI novel. Any others you can think of?

That term isn't familiar to me in the first place. The all-cap type styling "CLI FI," though, makes it look (I think) as though it'd be pronounced "see - el - eye / eff - eye" ... if 'twere my editorial call (which it sure ain't), I'd probably type "Cli-Fi" ... which might resemble what I suspect is the more common styling "Sci-Fi" (rather than "SCI FI").

Climate change has lately been doing a number on us, too, here in the Merrimack Valley -- albeit less drastically than on the Jersey Shore. Hope the climatic mood swings are taking as little as possible outta you and yours.



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2012/12/23 – Adam Trexler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, analyzing Cli-Fi books. I stumbled up this blog post The Climate Change ...

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2011/12/22 – Thanks to Paco for 'Cli-Fi', which would expand to 'climate fiction', clearly. Equally brilliant: 'an Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women's ...

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2012/1/26 – Forget missions to Mars and start thinking about mass migrations of ''climate refugees'' north to Alaska.

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2012/4/15 – Bio: Danny Bloom is a global citizen who helped midwife, er, midhusband, Jim Laughter's new cli fi novel titled POLAR CITY RED, now for sale ...

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2012/6/1 – It's more than a “cli-fi” thriller. It also exposes the underbelly of humankind's most terrifying nightmare: the possible end of the human species ...

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2012/4/23 – Instantly connect to what's most important to you. Follow your friends, experts, favorite celebrities, and breaking news.

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2013/1/4 – Well this Post is very belated as I've just returned from 2 weeks travel, on which I didn't have sufficient time or access to do an update. But for ...

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2013/2/17 – Cli-fi novel "Polar City Red" paints dystopian Alaska future by Libbie Martin FAIRBANKS — Whether you agree that climate change is caused ...

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Adam Trexler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Exeter, analyzing Cli-Fi books.  Judith Curry says she stumbled up this blog post The Climate Change Novel:  A Faulty Simulator of Environmental Politics.  Trexler states that “Over the last three decades, more than 200 novels have been written that try to imagine our future in a climate-changed world.”   Of the novels discussed by Trexler, most seem to be of the Sci-Fi scorched earth genre, rather than Cli-Fi. 

Clara Hume has written a cli fi novel titled ''Back to the Garden''

Clara Hume has written a cli fi novel titled ''Back to the Garden'' which takes us through an apocalyptic North America near the end of this century, when climate change and other ecological disasters have devastated the planet.

In a recent email interview with the author, who lives in Canada, we asked her a few questions about the book, how it came to be and what she hopes the book will accomplish in terms ofraising public awareness among the young and old about climate change and global warming issues.

Danny Bloom: Why did you choose this date and time frame and do

you think that timing will be sooner, or perhaps a bit later, now that

you published the book and gotten some feedback from readers with

reviews pro and con?

CLARA HUME: I meant to be vague with "near the end of the century". An earlier

draft of the book had some journal entries dating back through the years,

culminating in the final year of 2079. The journal entries showed the

progression of the world from now to then, since the writers of the

letters would have been the main characters' ancestors, and would be

living right now. The journal entries are still in the book (I won't spoil

it), but without dates. I don't know how bad things would be by a

certain time, and concluded that fiction should lend to imagination

rather than prediction, so I took the dates out.

I have gotten some feedback from readers but so far but not about the

credibility of what goes down in the book. However, one Waterkeeper

who works in the area of Idaho where the book starts, and who had at

least read a synopsis of the book, was sad about the future of the

lake her organization is a "keeper" of. Lake Pond Orielle is near the

Selkirk Mountains ranch where the book begins. The Waterkeeper of that

lake told me about some invasive species and such, but I think she

might have bigger hopes that the lake remains healthier than it's

described in my book. It wasn't really a credibility issue,

again--more like a sadness that things might get that bad.

I personally have no guess about how things will change in our

lifetimes. But considering that huge earth-saving, global policies for

clean air and water, less emissions, and so forth, are not in sight,

my hopes aren't high for our future.

Danny Bloom: Tell us more about the plot of the novel, the characters, the themes.

CLARE HUME: These are survivors of a long

decline in the health of our planet. There's not a lot of mention of

specific events, but there are a few. One is the 'Resource Wars'. We

know this happens when the oldest character in the book was a little

boy, watching it on the news. Resource Wars describes an event of

economic and natural competition, and an aggressive one at that, but

outside of that I don't go into much detail. Same with the various

sicknesses resulting from vector-borne viruses and lack of clean water

as well as horrible sanitary conditions.

Same with a final breakdown

of global society as we know it today, due to no central governments

or communication, and really...for all the characters know, the world

is mostly off the grid save for minor use of solar powered technology.

The main characters in the book remember an age descending from our

modern days, in that they recall things getting worse and worse each

year. They remember the internet. They remember electricity. But they

just happened to be living at that tipping point when things went from

bad to a hell of a lot worse real quickly.

Again, however, I was vague

about some issues. I thought about going into details on some events,

but I wanted the book to be more about the characters and their

relationships because it is up to them to give us hope.

I have been contemplating these issues for a long time, really all my

life. I remember when I grew up, as a child in the 1970s, there were

worries about the ozone layer, population growth, and saving

electricity (I always made everyone in my family turn off lights they

weren't using).

That must have also been part of the launch of the

throw-away period, which we're still in, which means there's a lot of

disposable stuff filling up our landfills and oceans. It has occurred

to me all my life, probably due to my great love of natural areas and

the outdoors--and knowledge that our survival is absolutely dependent

on the ecosystems around us, that, at least in my lifetime, we've been

using too much of the world's resources too fast.

I have always

preferred the riches of family, love, and good relationships over what

power and money gives, so to me it is really a foreign concept that

the polluting world operates the way it does (i.e. consumerism and


For more on what sparked my novel, see this link: Yes,

climate change has been on my mind for about as long as scientists

began reporting the current state we're in.

Danny Bloom: Who are you trying to reach as readers?

CLARE HUME: Along with the last question, my goal for the book is to reach

everyone, young and old alike. I think art is a good way of inspiring

people, and I hope people will see the book as a motivator to look at

the world in a new way and start acting as a strong steward for our

planet. The writing isn't complicated, so I think all ages would

understand it, though there are some visually grotesque things in the

book I wouldn't want children to read.

Danny Bloom: How are marketing the book in terms of publicity and advertising?

CLARE HUME: I've done quite a bit of direct marketing, sending a press release

about the book to everyone from Bill McKibben to NRDC to climate

change and similar organizations in the USA and Canada. I also sent

news of the book to climate change forum leaders.

I mentioned the book on a few other

forums too. I also joined an online book club for a different project

and talk about the book there occasionally. I search news articles for

climate change books and comment on them about this book. I also put a

clickable banner ad for the book up on (which is the

science/nature blog affiliated with my press--which gets a bit of

traffic due to my series on the Great Bear Rainforest).

I also have a

couple grand following my press on FB, and use twitter and google +

While no newspapers have reviewed the book yet, a woman who writes

for the NYT and Slate has a review copy in hand now as does a panel doing a

climate change literature event this spring.

Danny Bloom: Where does your vision of the future come from? Can you explain where this novel came from?

CLARE HUME: This is exactly how I imagine our future. I think in time as the world

heats up, more land will become desert-like, and already, the way it

is, our waterways are screwed and will become more so as we divert

water for industry--from soda pop to agriculture to water used in oil

sands--and as we continue to use lakes and seas as dumping grounds.

The "deplorable faces of death" were the words that came to me when I

thought of some incidents that happen in the book. I won't spoil these

for you, but in my mind they are very visual and frightening.

Danny Bloom: What can readers, the public, do to help stop the slide

into despair as the climate heats up century by century?

CLARE HUME: This is exactly why I think the book is credible. Not enough is being

done to curb emissions and clean up our act. I used to think Canada

had a good environmental model others could look up to, but Prime

Minister Stephen Harper is pro-industry and has not only threatened

advocates of anti-oil sands expansion but has passed a huge omnibus

bill that defunded scientific programs and air/water monitoring up

here as well as other environmental programs. There's plenty of

opposition to him, thankfully, but I hope/think Obama might behave

better on similar oil sands proposals in the US (i.e. Keystone XL).

I think my children and grandchildren will live in a different world,

and it will be tougher and they'll have to struggle. But sometimes a

lot of beauty and renaissance and growth comes out of tough periods. I

can speak from experience that being somewhat stupid, or perhaps

adventurous, in my youth made me a stronger, more open-minded person

today. I think cultures, like individuals, can learn from their


Danny Bloom: Pessimist or optimist?

CLARE HUME: I'm both, or maybe neither. All of humankind's historical activism on

this planet has been a push and pull from one sort of side to the

other. We generally come up somewhere in the middle at any point in

time. I don't think we'll will ever be too vastly different as a

species. Today's humans are ruining the planet, and tomorrow's humans

will be smarter about it. It seems almost a clinical way to look at

things, but trust me, it is not without great care and concern for the

human race.

Danny Bloom: Who are your climate issues teachers?

CLARE HUME: I think people who are concerned about climate change are the same

people who worry about pollution, deforestation, monoculture crops,

animal farms, and so on. This is simply another part of the

destruction of our planet, and it really works in tandem with a lot of

other things we've already been concerned about. Though I do admire

the people you've mentioned, such as Margaret Atwood and James Lovelock, I tend to see this issue of climate

change as an evolution from other issues, and for that reason would

rather give you names of people who inspired me to love nature.

One was my father, who died in 2009.
I dedicated the
book to him and my mother.

Dad loved taking us canoeing and hiking and

rafting. He and Mom (who grew up on a mountain in Kentucky) always had

books around about the world. I remember the old Time-Life books,

which began my education about evolution, oceans, deserts, mountains,

and so on.

Others who inspired me are poets Gary Snyder and Michael

McClure, author Bill Hotchkiss, and activist John Muir and Jane

Goodall. Also, a big nod to Daniel Quinn, who is brilliant.

Danny Bloom: The title, what does it mean to you?

CLARE HUME: I mention this on the link above. The title alludes

to the Joni Mitchell version of the song (I love the phrase "We are

stardust. Billion year old carbon"; it ties in with the ephemeral but

important characters in the book, which you will see at the end of the

book) There's also the reference to the biblical garden of Eden as a

place most people think of as pristine. The book starts near, and ends

near, an apple grove. In between is a long journey, where a lot of

jarring discovery is made, and thus so is some soul-searching and

redemption. The title is a little metaphorical then. It's the

beginning and the end of the book and the beginning and end of a


When asked if many young people, younger readers, had writtten to her

yet about the book, Ms. Hume replied:

No younger people have written to me yet, but I am hopeful that once

they read this book they would really think about it. Younger people

are so much more tuned in to climate change and environmental issues

than people might think. This article gives me a lot of good vibes:{%2210151342826702408%22%3A138534429648449}&action_type_map={%2210151342826702408%22%3A%22og.likes%22}&action_ref_map=[]

Also, I had the chance to talk to the college student, Magdalena Angel, leading the

Great Bear Rainforest Youth Paddle last summer, and I asked her a

similar question: not about climate change but about protecting the

rainforest up here from pipelines and supertankers. She said she was

very surprised that the attitudes of her age group at college were

very concerned with such issues.

NOTE: A  link to that interview with Magdalena Angel is

Saturday, February 23, 2013

.DreamWorks Planning Movie About Polar Cities for Survivors of Climate Chaos in a Distant Future (Exclusive)

.DreamWorks Planning Movie About Polar Cities? YES!
10:54 AM PST 2/22/2013 by Kit Happle
Comments 12,759

The story of survivors living in a polar city in Alaska in distant future will be directed by  helmer Matt Russell.

YES: The story is heading to the big screen.

DreamWorks has picked up a pitch after Danny Bloom - related to Jake Bloom, yes -- sent it in, with Jack Amiel and Michael Begler attached to write and Matt Russell, who most recently directed "Time to Sway:", attached to helm.

Friday, February 22, 2013

1989 ''Mystery Train” star Masatoshi Nagase from Japan coaches ''Kano'' team in 1931 movie in Taiwan

Movie News

“Mystery Train” star coaches Kano

YES HE KANO: Veteran Japanese actor Masatoshi Nagase, who plays the role of a strict coach in the upcoming baseball movie “Kano,” says he has relished his time in Taiwan

Readers familiar with cult American films might remember Jim Jarmusch’s 1989 movie Mystery Train, which not only put the director on the world map but also turned the then-22-year-old Japanese actor Masatoshi Nagase — a high school drop-out from the countryside — into a star.

Fast forward to 2013 and Nagase is in Taiwan as part of the cast of Kano, a baseball drama about a 1931 Chiayi high school team. The film, backed by Wei Te-sheng (魏德聖), is directed by Seediq Bale (賽德克‧巴萊) alumnus Umin Boya.

Filming has been going on in five cities around Taiwan since November, from Chiayi to Keelung, and is set to wrap at the end of March.

An all-Taiwanese cast comprised of mostly unknown faces, as well as four well-known Japanese actors playing pivotal roles, is bringing the Wei-scripted story to life.

Among the four Japanese actors, Nagase, now 46, has been cast as a strict Japanese high school baseball coach. During a recent press conference in Chiayi, Nagase said he was enjoying his time in Taiwan, even posting photos of various Taiwan scenic locations on his Facebook page.

big budget flick

Nagase told reporters at the conference in Chiayi that he was impressed by the Hollywood-style set that has been built in Chiayi, confessing: “A movie set of that size is rare even in Japan today.”

When asked by the Taipei Times if Jarmusch was aware of his starring role in Kano, Nagase said in English: “I’m not sure if he knows yet, but I hope he will find out later. I love Jim Jarmusch.”

According to the producers, over NT$50 million has been spent to build a 1931-era set, and there are plans to retain some of the Kano main street set as a tourist attraction before and after the movie opens next year.

a taste of old chiayi

There’s a huge wooden replica of an old Japanese-style Chiayi train station from the 1930s, complete with a bright red Japan Post Office collection box made of cardboard, several fake telephone poles with fake telephone wires strung up in the air, and emergency sand containers used to put out fires in the Japanese colonial period days before fire trucks and fire hydrants were put into service here.

The three other actors from Japan cast in the film are Takao Ozawa, Maki Sakai and Togo Ikawa.

Putting Nagase in Kano appears to be a stroke of casting genius since Jarmusch is a big name in America and Europe and it is hoped that Nagase’s star turn will bring in Western viewers to the baseball drama — not to mention his many fans in Japan where he has appeared on TV shows, movies and in an assortment of popular and often humorous TV commercials over the past 20 years.

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Clara Hume on her book titled “Back to the Garden”

Author Clara Hume -- the pen name of Mary Sands Woodbury-- talks about her book “Back to the Garden”...

Clara Hume's ''Back to the Garden''

takes the reader through apocalyptic America near the end of the 21st century, around 2100 AD, when climate change and other ecological disasters have devastated the planet. A group of survivors heads out to find loved ones, meanwhile facing painfully nostalgic memories of a different world as well as struggling through personal loss and tragedy. Across fierce deserts and ghost towns, contaminated lakes and rivers, and deplorable faces of death, the group develops surprising relationships and resolutions. Clare Hume is a pen name for a writer living in North America.

NOTE: Clara Hume’s novel takes the reader through apocalyptic America near the end of the century, when climate change and other ecological disasters have devastated the planet. A group of survivors heads out to find loved ones, meanwhile facing painfully nostalgic memories of a different world as well as struggling through personal loss and tragedy. Across fierce deserts and ghost towns, contaminated lakes and rivers, and deplorable faces of death, the group develops surprising relationships and resolutions.....
The novel presents a frightening and tragic possibility for our future but doesn’t ignore our affirmative connection to nature and other people. The novel attempts to open people’s eyes to the importance of respecting limits, before it’s too late.

I haven’t really talked about Back to the Garden except for in a little wording for press releases and descriptions. This was my 2nd completed book and my first published novel. The nature of the book resulted from the fact that a lot of ecological devastation is going on, and there aren’t enough laws to protect our water, land, and air. Also, climate change is the biggest issue we’re likely to face this century, but it is not addressed correctly in the media nor by politics. These two things–climate change and ecological devastation–are huge umbrella terms that are challenging to address and include so many layers that nobody seems to be able to look at them properly. I figured a fictional novel might work as long as it wasn’t preachy. Rather, Back to the Garden evolves as a framework for how characters resolve issues in a new world.

A few years ago I woke up from a dream in which I was on a very dry beach, so dry that my throat was parched. The wind was blowing my hair wildly around my face, stinging. I had a sense that I was a survivor far into the future after climate change and other problems had ruined much of the population. Across the beach was a man who looked like Leonardo DiCaprio, but only a little. He was way more rugged and not gentle or kindly as I would imagine. He was gruff toward me and very much inside himself. He had made a camp across the beach, though, so I had to put up with him. I can’t remember much happening in the dream other than a few rude words he said to me. At the same time, he still seemed to respect that I was there, that I was alive too.

I woke up the next day and began to write the novel, which at first had no name, but had the filename “Fan and Leo.docx”. The novel went through a few title iterations, including a name change of one of the main characters, “Fan” to “Fran”. I put this beach from my dream at a lake in Idaho and began to build up the characters’ home, pasts, family, and friends. About a quarter of the way through, I spent so much time going back to clean up the first chapter or two that I didn’t foresee ever really finishing the novel. My father-in-law Al said to me, “Don’t worry about editing anything. Just keep writing until you’re done. Revise it after you’re done.” His advice was the best. Al was never a writer. He had raised his kids, including my husband, on a ranch when they were young. Ranch life back then was rough, and in the mountains of the interior of British Columbia, life was rewarding but cold in the winter and hot in the summer. He knew how to get things done. Just do it.

Some influences

•Fragments of Nomad Days, by Allan Graubard: The author wrote the prose after being visually inspired by a triptych of a woman named Caroline. The writing represented the narrator in exile in the same sort of dry land I had dreamed of. The writing was haunting and full of transience and shadows. Graubard’s visual poem (illustrated by Ira Cohen) typified the type of thought process and imagery that I would summon for Back to the Garden.

•The song Back to the Garden, live version by Joni Mitchell. This is the only version that should be thought of as being inspirational to the book, due to her slow, pure voice. I didn’t really care about the reference to Woodstock, but did like her lyrics: We are stardust. Billion year old carbon. These two lines, like Graubard’s prose, drove me to write the characters as important but also ephemeral. There’s a little religious allusion there too, as the garden is introduced in the opening scenes–among these gardens are also apple groves, which show up in the end of the book too.

•Daniel Quinn’s Ishmael, which gave the book its interim name The Leavers. Between the first and subsequent drafts of the novel, I termed it The Leavers, changing the name to Back to the Garden only a few months before publication. In Quinn’s novel, the leavers and takers are two types of humans (beginning with Australopithecus) having lived on planet Earth, with the leavers having lived for three million years, within the limits of their environment, and the takers having wiped out the leavers during the agricultural revolution, which set in motion the beginning to the end of ecological destruction on earth. Going back to the idea of the garden of Eden, Quinn also explains what he feels are perhaps the intended narratives behind the Tree of the Knowledge or Good and Evil as well as the Cain vs. Abel story. My novel also gives a nod to Quinn’s discussion of immutable laws. I left the original title and cover photo in the book’s front matter.

•The show Lost. I’m not a big t.v. fan, but that changed with the epic show Lost. I was pretty impressed with the way the creators of the show presented a multi-faceted narrative involving different characters. I haven’t seen too much of that in writing, and it is much harder to do when you don’t have a visual platform. When I wrote, I envisioned the landscape and the characters as if they were on screen, and wrote them from others’ perspectives. The book’s main characters are built upon, and soon there are ten characters who present perspectives about situations throughout the novel. While these narratives don’t contradict each other, they do add on to what others have perceived–which is really how we get as close to truth as possible: to lend credibility through peer review. But the book isn’t so much about seeking truth as it is redemption. Each character has something from their past that they are struggling with. These things are directly brought on by the changing world, and as one of the characters Elena points out while quoting Melville, it is only when humans redeem their natural environment that they can begin to redeem themselves.

•There’s a lot of other references in this book, not just Melville but biological poet Michael McClure, Tolkien, and many others who write about the land.


Kristal Mikels

I was drawn into this book immediately because of the writing style - very Steinbeckian with great detail to characters and surroundings. The story line had me hooked, but Ms. Hume's way with words kept me enthralled with each page.

I loved that the author switched between characters to give different points of views on what was happening.

Overall a wonderful book and I'll be recommending it to friends and family.

M. Woodbury

Amazon Verified PurchaseI won't call it post-apocalyptic because it's the end of society isn't going to happen by something sudden like in Cormac McCarthy's The Road but this book takes a good look at life in the time of man-kind after its golden age has ended. Oil's scarce, international travel no longer possible, governments don't exist.

The story follows several characters through the course of a year living in this not-so-distant future of our world. The focus is more on the characters than on cataloguing what exactly has changed in the world and the book is more effective for it. A realistic betrayal of how people cope and keep living their lives despite the changes around them.

I recommend .....for its insightful vision and compelling story. Not your usual "apocalyptic" tale of doom. ..... "Clara Hume" (pen name) is a very good storyteller, so I hope she keeps at it!

I found the book well written and engaging with likeable characters, especially "Buddha". Well done!


Clara Hume is her pen name. She says: "My reason for choosing this name is multi-layered, but first and foremost, another author in Canada already goes by my real name.

In 7th grade Spanish class, we were supposed to use the Spanish equivalents of our real names. Well, someone else had chosen mine and so I chose Clara, pronounced klär’uh. It sounded pretty and meant “bright, shining, or clear”. The name has always been one of my favorites.

I chose the last name Hume based on the “Lost” character Desmond Hume.

His character was based, of course, on Scottish philosopher David Hume, a famous empiricist of the Scottish Enlightenment whose basic premise about the nature of humans is that behavior is driven by passion instead of reason.

He said, “Reason is, and ought only to be, the slave of the passions.” While I’m not sure I follow that model in life, I do in my writing. Passion inspires my writing, whereas in real life I’m sort of a logical and almost boring person.

But back to the character Desmond: he is also Scottish. My background is Scot-Irish, as my mother’s ancestors settled in Appalachia–and those people, both moonshiners and crazy baptists alike, are people I hold dear. Also, one more connection: In the show, Desmond was a time-traveler, and I believe that writers must be able to travel through time, while of course retaining a constant to ground them to the present. (Faraday was also a consideration in my nom de plume.)

In my first novel, Back to the Garden, I traveled to the future.

I examined what our world might look like post-ecological (and thereby economical) collapse.

Rather than try to be too preachy about it, I wrote not only from the future but through ten main characters’ voices. I examined how these main characters chose to survive, and how their choices, compared to a once more convenient life, changed them in some way. I used this redemption to drive how they connect with others, both friends and strangers, and how their choices will hopefully determine the future.

''Under the pen name Clara Hume, I have published a novel about a world after more global warming and ecological destruction. This title, Back to the Garden, is a fictional account of people near the end of the 21st century who are adapting to near post-apocalyptic survival. I tried not to be preachy or mention climate change too much. I wanted this story to be a tale, first and foremost, with interesting characters, dialog, and plot. ''


She is the oldest daughter of Jerry and Janice Sands.

She notes:

''My husband Morgan and I live in an older house in Coquitlam, BC. Our house is unique and has character, and our lawn is wild, with roses, overgrown blackberries, lavender, hydrangea, and about a million other flowers and trees. Last year we got a solicitor who said he felt like he was walking into the rainforest when entering our yard. It’s not a tacky yard, but not the kind that’s well-manicured. Last year I built a garden, with snow peas, pole beans, lettuce, cilantro, strawberries, dill, carrots, leeks, basil, and pumpkins. The pumpkins all died. This summer I plan to plant some green peppers too.

If you read anything I write in my blog or on Facebook, you might think I’m a nostalgic old sap. This is true to an extent. As I matured from a rebellious teenager into a woman, my father became ill. He had Parkinsons Disease from the time I graduated college until 2009, when he passed away. When he died, it was a wake-up call about how fleeting life can be. But I began to study his and Mom’s pasts and developed a family website, scanned a lot of photos, and felt closer to my extended family. Death teaches you to never take anyone for granted. I also felt a need to preserve our family history in writing. And for some reason my memory is excellent and I am constantly having the oddest, most random memories of something that happened when I was very young.

But my present life is full of being busy too. I’m never satisfied to sit and do nothing. I can barely sit to watch television unless it’s LOST or a really good movie. In 2010 I opened a small publishing company called Moon Willow Press, and I began publishing in 2011. To supplement the publishing company, I have been writing a lot at, which is my nature and science blog. In 2013 I hope to get distribution and continue doing a few small book-binding projects.

Last year I was laid off from the non-profit I was a director at for 3 years. They just ran out of money for operations and staff due to lack of funding. I’m still volunteering though, occasionally. I also immediately began working at a local college on-call, whenever they need someone to invigilate students taking exams or just do a variety of administrative tasks (update: I am there more permanently now as a program assistant). I also have volunteered at the Port Moody Ecological Society and have taken samples from creeks, done analyses on water samples, and helped with their their fingerling festival in May 2012–the hatchery released 40,000 young chum salmon into Noon’s Creek, and those salmon will make their way to the Pacific Ocean. It will take them about 4 years!''

Mary Sands Woodbury co-founded Jack Magazine, along with Michael Rothenberg, in the summer of 2000. She also maintains a Beat Generation site. Mary has been editor of Jack, which is a small but interesting and imperfect literary magazine that creates an arc between her Beat site and Michael’s Big Bridge. She lives in “City of the Arts”, Port Moody, in beautiful British Columbia. She is Outreach Director for an environmental non-profit organization that acts as a steward for the Fraser River, and recently opened a small press, Moon Willow Press. Mary is a graduate of Purdue University, with degrees in English and anthropology, and has interest in obtaining another degree in ocean or forest sciences — which means living to be 121.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dystopian novels about climate chaos are new wave of future literature and movies

Dystopian novels aren’t new. Writers have been imagining dark futures since we started drawing in caves. In current times, think Margaret Atwood, Bruce Sterling, David Brin.

In his 2012 cli-fi novel “Polar City Red,” Laughter envisioned a sad and tragic world a few decades into the future, where temperatures have risen to the point that “island nations that stood only a few feet above sea level were affected ... their coastlines disappearing under a surge of tidal encroachment, eventually to be buried beneath an infringing ocean.”

Climate change and ecological disaster have long been the themes of dystopian despair; we’re a species quite capable of destroying ourselves and our planet. Laughter’s vision follows the format well: disaster destroys most of the world; humanity devolves back to savagery; some bright spots of civilization exist, albeit under constant attack from chaos; these bright spots all have dark secrets that threaten to destroy the “humanity” inside us; and some brave soul takes on those forces of evil to bring mankind back to the light

The  fact that the climate is changing cannot be denied. Glaciers and ice at the poles continue to melt faster than ever; destructive species are moving up into latitudes that used to be too cold for them; and 100-year floods, droughts and superstorms are now almost yearly occurrences.

Back in 2013, long before millions of climate refugees from the Lower 48 started flooding Alaska seeking refuge from the story -- the climapocalypse -- Tulsa, Oklahoma sci fi author Jim Laughter, 59, took taken the then current-event scenario and extrapolated into the future, -- assuming we continue to ignore the evidence before our eyes and keep our heads in the sand while pulling fossil fuels from it.

In his 2012 cli-fi novel “Polar City Red,” Laughter envisioned a sad and tragic world a few decades into the future, where temperatures have risen to the point that “island nations that stood only a few feet above sea level were affected ... their coastlines disappearing under a surge of tidal encroachment, eventually to be buried beneath an infringing ocean.”

There’s a lot written about climate change, but only a handful of fictional works put it at the core of the story

Laughter's novel is one.

It took a hurricane of devastating proportions for the issue of climate change to raise its head in the 2012 US election. In a political culture where global warming is believed by many American conservatives to be the invention of a conspiracy, the consequences of the threat posed by the Earth’s altered environment remained largely unspoken about until disaster struck.

However, if climate change is the elephant in the room in political culture, it is also curiously under-represented in contemporary literature; the fallout from the ongoing exploitation of the Earth’s natural resources is largely ignored in the present-day fictional landscape.

Is there such a thing as contemporary eco-literature, and who are the writers best examining this most fundamental challenge to human existence? In literary fiction, global warming rarely makes its presence felt. Radically changed weather systems are occasionally evoked as a metaphorical reflection of psychological landscapes (think of the unusual snow that dominates Anne Enright’s The Forgotten Waltz), but they are rarely the central focus of the plot nor, indeed, a theme.

There are a few notable works of literary fiction that place an eco-drama centre stage, but even these ecologically-themed narratives use the subject as a means of exposing human weakness rather than pointing to our culpability in the crisis or offering any potential solution.

As the impact of Hurricane Sandy on the US election made clear, it is the effects of climate change on human life that make us care about the larger issues. Ultimately, it is human stories that will provoke change, and literature has an important role to play in allowing us to imagine just how devastating our future may be.

Cli-fi: five of the best

Polar Ctity Red, Jim Laughter, 2012When the Lower 48 becomes unlivable, millions make their way north to Alaska is search of shelter.

The Year of the Flood, Margaret Atwood, 2009
An eco-cult goes underground after a waterless flood washes away emotion and the world is taken over by robotic GM human beings.

The Drowned World , JG Ballard, 1962
The Earth has been sunk under water in this futuristic novel. How do human beings behave when they have water on the brain?

Watership Down , Richard Adams, 1972 The plight of a warren of rabbits becomes a metaphor for the destruction of the environment.

Ecotopia , Ernest Callenbach, 1990 Callenbach strikes a rare note of environmental optimism in Ecotopia, but is there a human price to be paid for energy efficiency?

Galápagos , Kurt Vonnegut, 1985
A rare piece of ‘cli-fi ’ set in the past; Vonnegut imagines humans devolving into seals.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Polar Cities and Climate Change in a World of National Security Concerns Come tthe Climapocallypse in the Next 500 Years: Just 30 Generations to Solve This Pressing Problems or it's Curtains for the Human Race


Climate change and the serious possiblity that we might need polar cities in the future to house climate refugees in Alaska and Canada fleeing the Climapocalypse in the Lower 48 and Mexico -- not to mention refugess from South America, Asia and Africa as well -- presents a serious threat to the security and prosperity of the United
States and other countries.

 Recent actions and statements by members of Congress,
members of the UN Security Council, and retired U.S. military officers have drawn
attention to the consequences of climate change, including the need for polar cities for survivors of unspeakble Lower 48 tragedies, destabilizing effects of
storms, droughts, and floods.

Domestically, the effects of climate change could lead to the need to build over 100 polar cities in Alaska alone, and also
overwhelm disaster-response capabilities. Internationally, climate change may cause
humanitarian disasters, contribute to political violence, and undermine weak

In this Special Report, Danny Bloom moves beyond diagnosis of the
threat to recommendations for action, including the need now to discuss, plan, pre-site and pre-build 100 polar cities for survivors of climate chaos over the next 500 years. It's not too early to begin taking Bloom's ideas seriously.

Recognizing that climate change is real and
inevitable, he proposes a portfolio of feasible and affordable policy options to reduce the
vulnerability of the United States and other countries to the predictable effects of climate
change. His main thrust is the need to build polar cities for our descendants in 500 years time.

 He also draws attention to the strategic dimensions of reducing greenhouse gas
emissions, arguing that sharp reductions in the long run are essential to avoid
unmanageable security problems.

KEY WORDS: John Busby, Richard Haas, Richard Hansen, James Lovelock, Andrew Revkin,
Marc Morano, Mark Lynas, Fred Pearce, Jim Laughter, Stephan Malone, Polar City Red, Polar City Dreaming, Margaret Atwood, Bruce Sterling

The result is an authoritative, well-written, and practical paper that merits careful
consideration by members of Congress, the administration, and other interested parties in
the United States and internationally.

Richard Has
Council on Polar Cities



 by Danny Bloom

In developing this Special Report, I interviewed a number of individuals who
work on climate change, national security, and the intersection between the two. These
included current and former U.S. government officials, former members of the military,
and academics, as well as staff from international organizations, nongovernmental
organizations, and businesses. During the course of writing this report, I consulted with
an advisory group that met to offer constructive feedback. This publication was sponsored by the Polar Cities Center and was
made possible, in part, by a grant from the Bernie Bloom
Foundation. The statements made and views expressed in this report are solely my

-- Danny Bloom

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005, Americans witnessed on their own
soil what looked like an overseas humanitarian-relief operation. The storm destroyed
much of the city, causing more than $80 billion in damages, killing more than 1,800
people, and displacing in excess of 270,000. More than 70,000 soldiers were mobilized,
including 22,000 active duty troops and 50,000-plus members of the National Guard
(about 10 percent of the total Guard strength). Katrina also had severe effects on critical
infrastructure, taking crude oil production and refinery capacity off-line for an
unprecedented length of time. At a time when the United States was conducting military
operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the country suddenly had to divert its attention and
military resources to respond to a domestic emergency.

Climate change and Katrina cannot be linked directly with each other, but the
storm gave Americans a visual image of what climate change—which scientists predict
will exacerbate the severity and number of extreme weather events—might mean for the
future.1 It also began to alter the terms of the climate debate. The economics community
has been engaged in an important, ongoing discussion since the early 1990s about
whether early action to prevent climate change is justified; this debate has compared the
potential economy-wide costs of lowering greenhouse gas emissions to the possible
economic costs of climate change. In 2007, the debate turned, broadening beyond
economics to include, in particular, the consequences of climate change for national
security. In March 2007, Senators Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE)
introduced a bill requesting a National Intelligence Estimate to assess whether and how
climate change might pose a national security threat. In April 2007, the CNA
Corporation, a think tank funded by the U.S. Navy, released a report on climate change
Scientists do not attribute single weather events like Katrina to climate change; at most, they would say
that climate change make extreme storms like Katrina more likely. Whether climate change has been
responsible for an increase in both the severity and number of hurricanes is one of the most hotly debated
subjects in the scientific community.
and national security by a panel of retired U.S. generals and admirals that concluded:
“Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile
regions of the world, and it presents significant national security challenges for the
United States.” That same month, the UN Security Council—at the initiative of the UK
government—held its first-ever debate on the potential impact of climate change on
peace and security. In October 2007, the Nobel committee recognized this emerging
threat to peace and security by awarding former vice president Al Gore and the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change its peace prize. In November 2007, two
think tanks, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the Center for a
New American Security (CNAS), released another report on the issue, concluding from a
range of possible scenarios of climate change that, “We already know enough to
appreciate that the cascading consequences of unchecked climate change are to include a
range of security problems that will have dire global consequences.”2
The new interest in climate change and national security has been a valuable
warning about the potential security consequences of global warming, but the proposed
solutions that accompanied recent efforts have emphasized broader climate policy rather
than specific responses to security threats. Because the links between climate change and
national security are worthy of concern in their own right, and because some significant
climate change is inevitable, strategies that go beyond long-run efforts to rein in
greenhouse gas emissions are required. This report sharpens the connections between
climate change and national security and recommends specific policies to address the
security consequences of climate change for the United States.
In all areas of climate change policy, adaptation and mitigation (reducing
greenhouse gas emissions) should be viewed as complements rather than competing
alternatives—and the national security dimension is no exception. Some policies will be
targeted at adaptation, most notably risk-reduction and preparedness policies at home and
abroad. These could spare the United States the need to mobilize its military later to
rescue people and to prevent regional disorder—and would ensure a more effective
response if such mobilization was nonetheless necessary. Others will focus on mitigation,
CSIS/CNAS, The Age of Consequences: The Foreign Policy and National Security Implications of Global
Climate Change, November 2007; available at
which is almost universally accepted as an essential part of the response to climate
change. Mitigation efforts will need to be international and involve deep changes in the
world’s major economies, such as those of China and India. As a result, the processes of
working together to craft and implement them provide opportunities to advance
American security interests. Such opportunities exist within many areas of climate policy:
military-to-military workshops on emergency management, for example, can help other
states deal with new security threats and, at the same time, cement strong relationships
that can pay off in other national security dimensions.
The 2007 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the
leading expert body in this field, summarizes the effects of climate change by kind,
likelihood, and impact on different sectors such as agriculture and human health (see
Table 1). Its main conclusion is that “some weather events and extremes will become
more frequent, more widespread, and/or more intense during the 21st century.”3
Table 1: Summary of Expected Effects in IPCC 2007 Report
Phenomenon and Direction of Trend
21st Century
Over most land areas, warmer and fewer cold days and nights, warmer Virtually certain
and more frequent hot days and nights
Warm spells/heat waves. Frequency increases over most land areas
Very likely
Heavy precipitation events. Frequency increases over most areas
Area affected by drought increases
Intense tropical cyclone activity increases
Increased incidence of extreme high sea level (excluding tsunamis)
Sources: IPCC Interim Working Group Report 1, April 2007; IPCC Synthesis Report, November 2007.
Very likely
While some areas in northern Europe, Russia, and the Arctic may experience
more positive effects of a warming climate in the short run, the long-run net
consequences for all regions are likely to be negative if nothing at all is done to reduce
emissions of greenhouse gases. Africa and parts of Asia are particularly vulnerable, given
their locations and their limited governmental capacities to respond to flooding, droughts,
and declining food production. Even the United States will face negative impacts from
This report focuses on physical effects that scientists already regard as those most likely to surface in the
coming decades, rather than more long-term, uncertain, or unlikely effects, which would include abrupt
climate change and the scenario of a twenty-foot sea-level rise popularized in former U.S. vice president Al
Gore’s film An Inconvenient Truth.
droughts, heat waves, and storms. Each of these has potential consequences, direct and
indirect, for national security.
National security extends well beyond protecting the homeland against armed
attack by other states, and indeed, beyond threats from people who purposefully seek to
damage or destroy states. Phenomena like pandemic disease, natural disasters, and
climate change, despite lacking human intentionality, can threaten national security. For
example, the 2006 U.S. National Security Strategy (NSS) notes that the Department of
Defense has been charged to plan for “deadly pandemics and other natural disasters” that
can “produce WMD-like effects.” It also notes that “environmental destruction, whether
caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes,
earthquakes, or tsunamis … may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond,
and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response.” Like
armed attacks, some of the effects of climate change could swiftly kill or endanger large
numbers of people and cause such large-scale disruption that local public health, law
enforcement, and emergency response units would not be able to contain the threat.
Climate change does not pose an existential risk for a country as large as the
United States. Moreover, while Washington, DC, has had its share of storms, the nation’s
political and military command-and-control center is not as vulnerable to extreme
weather events as other parts of the country. However, Hurricane Katrina demonstrated
all too well the possibility that an extreme weather event could kill and endanger large
numbers of people, cause civil disorder, and damage critical infrastructure in other parts
of the country. It would be easy to dismiss that storm’s effects as the result of a
particularly vulnerable city and an extraordinarily damaging hurricane. But the 2007
IPCC report explicitly warns that coastal populations in North America will be
increasingly vulnerable to climate change—and nearly 50 percent of Americans live
within fifty miles of the coast. While the Gulf Coast’s vulnerability is well known, other
densely populated coastal areas are also at risk. For example, a NASA simulation that
combined a modest forty-centimeter sea-level rise by 2050 with storm surges from a
Category Three hurricane found that, without new adaptive measures, large parts of New
York City would be inundated, including much of southern Brooklyn and Queens and
portions of lower Manhattan.4
Climate change could, through extreme weather events, have a more direct impact
on national security by severely damaging critical military bases, thereby diverting or
severely undermining significant national defense resources. This could have a
compound effect: in the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Department of Defense
recognized that military assets would likely be called upon in the event of future domestic
emergencies. Its consequences might also ripple abroad: for example, Tampa Bay, the
site of MacDill Air Force Base and U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), the center of
strategic operations in Iraq, is extremely vulnerable to hurricane damage. A University of
South Florida simulation found that the base would likely be inundated if the region were
struck by a Category Three hurricane.5 Other military assets located in Florida are also
vulnerable to extreme weather events. U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), the
strategic command for Latin America, is in Miami, another of the cities identified as most
vulnerable to hurricane storm damage. In 1992, Hurricane Andrew did such damage to
Homestead Air Force Base in Miami that it never reopened. In 2004, damage from
Hurricane Ivan kept Pensacola Naval Air Station closed for almost a year. Given the
kinds of effects hurricanes have historically had on military bases in the region, it is not
farfetched to imagine serious impairment to U.S. national security as Florida sustains
further hurricane disasters—and climate change will make such events more severe and
potentially more likely.
The effects of climate change on America’s neighbors could also be severe, with
spillover security effects on the United States. Caribbean countries such as Haiti and
Cuba could be hard hit by extreme weather events, contributing to humanitarian disasters
as well as the possibility of large-scale refugee flows and state failure. Both Haiti and
Cuba have historically used the threat of migration to extract concessions from the United
States. In 1980, Fidel Castro forced the United States to accept more than 100,000
Cubans after he encouraged tens of thousands to migrate to Florida during the Mariel
Vivien Gornitz and Cynthia Rosenzweig, Hurricanes, Sea Level Rise, and New York City (Columbia
University, Center for Climate Systems Research, 2006); available at
Kevin Duffy, “Could Tampa Bay Be the Next New Orleans?” (Palm Beach Post, July 9, 2006); available
boat lift. In 1994, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, in exchange for U.S. intervention to restore him
to power, was able to dissuade thousands of Haitians who had constructed makeshift rafts
from emigrating to the United States. In the absence of U.S. action to address climate
change or support risk reduction, countries in the region could be increasingly tempted to
use the threat of migration again.
The United States also faces the likelihood that summer sea ice in the Arctic will
be gone by the middle of the century. This will open up the Northern Sea route (north of
Russia) and the Northwest Passage (through the Canadian archipelago) to shipping, at
least for parts of the year. Both would be attractive for shipping, as they would provide
much shorter routes between Europe and Asia than the Panama Canal—4,000 nautical
miles less in the case of the Northwest Passage. While this is one of the potential benefits
of global warming, the issue threatens to become caught up in interstate disputes over
sovereign control over those waters. Canada has claimed the Northwest Passage as
internal waters while the United States has asserted they are international waters through
which free passage should be permitted. Another concern is contested control of potential
petroleum reserves in the area that have heretofore been inaccessible. In the summer of
2007, the Russians raised the stakes by laying claim to the North Pole and the resources
underlying it, setting in motion a scramble by other national governments. Though armed
confrontation remains unlikely, tensions over territorial waters hearken back to the kinds
of border disputes that once led to interstate war.
The United States also has national security interests farther afield, and some of
the countries that are vulnerable to climate change may, in particular, be of national
security concern to the United States, as sites of U.S. military bases and embassies, allies,
potential global or peer competitors, sources of raw materials and/or significant economic
partners, sites of major transportation corridors (ports, straits), or places where blowback
from events could have an impact on the U.S. homeland. A few specific examples are
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population—about 88 percent of its
245.5 million people. Some have been radicalized, but most have not. Indonesia is also a
fragile democracy and politically unstable with a history of separatist movements.
Meanwhile, as an island archipelago with large forest reserves, the country is both
vulnerable to climate change and important for climate mitigation. Climate change,
through drought conditions or storms, might further destabilize Indonesia, and if the
government provided a weak response to a future weather disaster, this could encourage
separatists or radicals to challenge the state or launch attacks on Western interests. In a
foretaste of what may be to come, the Indonesian government’s weak response to the
tsunami of 2004 damaged its authority in the province of Aceh.6
Similarly, China is a major economic partner and potential peer competitor. While
its authoritarian government currently has a firm grasp on power, rapid social change and
widening economic inequality make future instability possible. The country is vulnerable
to climate change, as a result of both potential freshwater shortages and storm damage
along its densely populated coast. The immense human costs of extreme weather events
in cities such as Shanghai and Tianjin could also damage China’s industrial production
capacity and ports, with knock-on effects on the global economy. An unstable China
might also have a less predictable foreign policy.
Other countries with less obvious strategic importance also have large, vulnerable
coastal populations. One recent study from the International Institute for Environment
and Development found that a tenth of the world’s population—634 million people—live
in coastal areas that lie between zero and ten meters above sea level.7 (Storm surges make
low-lying coastal areas vulnerable even if sea levels rise only modestly.) Fully 75 percent
of those live in Asia. Bangladesh, for example, has 46 percent of its population located in
low elevation areas, many of them living in areas less than five meters above sea level. Its
capital, Dhaka, with about 12.6 million people, is also one of the most vulnerable cities to
flooding. Devastating floods in Bangladesh could send tens of thousands of refugees
across the border to India, potentially leading to tension between the refugees and
recipient communities in India. In the event of such an emergency, the United States
would likely be called upon, given its relief efforts in the region after the 2004 tsunami
and the 2005 earthquake in Pakistan. Even if the United States has limited strategic stakes
Ironically, the tsunami also contributed to a peace settlement between the government and separatists.
Unlike most natural disasters, the effects of the 2004 tsunami were so severe that Aceh separatists decided
to hand in their weapons and end their demands for independence.
International Institute for Environment and Development, Climate Change: Study Maps Those at Greatest
Risk from Cyclones and Rising Seas (2007); available at
in Bangladesh, support for adaptation measures would still be the right thing to do and
much less costly than disaster response.
Sub-Saharan Africa is also particularly vulnerable to climate change. While U.S.
strategic interests in the region have historically been limited, Africa’s growing oil
exports to the United States and worries about terrorism have strengthened U.S. interests
in the continent.8 The United States has supported two major antiterrorism efforts in
Africa in recent years—one in the Sahel and the other in the Horn of Africa. With the
designation of a new U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) in 2007, Africa will have an
institutional anchor in the military hierarchy. The CNA report concluded that declining
food production, extreme weather events, and drought from climate change could further
inflame tensions in Africa, weaken governance and economic growth, and contribute to
massive migration and possibly state failure, leaving “ungoverned spaces” where
terrorists can organize.9
The United States has other compelling reasons to be concerned about Africa. The
continent’s vulnerability to climate change on top of its other problems makes the region
especially susceptible to humanitarian disasters with some African governments either
unwilling or unable to protect their citizens from floods, famine, drought, and disease.
The region is home to a number of unstable regimes and ongoing conflicts, in Somalia,
Ethiopia, and the Darfur region of Sudan, with spillover effects on neighboring Chad.
Countries in the region are already vulnerable to water shortages, which can exacerbate
local grievances and contribute to conflict over scarce resources. Drought conditions
(which memorably affected Ethiopia in the 1980s and Somalia in the early 1990s) may be
increasingly normal in a world of climate change. Since the United States will be
pressured to deploy military forces or at least provide lift and logistic support for large-
scale humanitarian emergencies, it has an interest in helping countries minimize the
adverse effects of climate change through enhanced local capacity to respond to natural
More Than Humanitarianism: A Strategic U.S. Approach toward Africa, Anthony Lake and Christine
Todd Whitman, chairs (Council on Foreign Relations Press, 2006); available at
A 2007 RAND report looks at indicators of ungovernability and conduciveness to terrorism in a number
of regions. See Ungoverned Territories: Understanding and Reducing Terrorism Risks; available at
These regional examples provide only a partial glimpse of the intersection of U.S.
strategic interests, climate vulnerability, and political risk. Nonetheless, they are
illustrative of the kinds of complex national security challenges the United States will
face as climate change intensifies.
Responding to the security consequences of climate change will require the United States
to support policies that will insulate it as well as countries of strategic concern from the
most severe effects of climate change. At the same time, climate policy will also provide
the United States with opportunities to improve its relationship with important countries,
both rising powers as well as those most vulnerable to environmental damage.
The United States should prioritize so-called no-regrets policies, those that it would not
regret having pursued even if the consequences of climate change prove less severe than
Domestically, the concentration of human settlements near the coasts justifies
many risk-reduction and adaptation policies even if the effects of climate change are
modest. Coastal populations are already vulnerable to hurricanes and floods, and policies
such as improved building codes make sense irrespective of climate change. Likewise,
investments in evacuation and relocation strategies could save lives in the event of
terrorist attacks or non-climate-related natural disasters, such as fires or earthquakes.
Among other programs that will be beneficial regardless is water conservation, since
water scarcity poses a threat to agriculture and human consumption patterns.
Internationally, military-to-military environmental security initiatives (on disaster
management, emergency response, and scarce water resources) such as those the U.S.
military has sponsored in the Persian Gulf and Central Asia are worthwhile even if the
environmental benefits are minimal. U.S. Central Command deputy commander
Lieutenant General Michael P. DeLong underscored this point in a 2001 speech: “The
United States would not have had access to Central Asia bases to fight the war on
terrorism were it not for the relationship established through environmental security
Costs for these conferences were likely in the hundreds of thousands of dollars—a
small price to pay. Institutionalizing a series of annual regional conferences at which
militaries can discuss natural hazards and disaster preparedness would be among the
cheapest investments that the U.S. government could support. For about $100 million, the
U.S. government could develop a multiyear program with militaries from Africa, Central
Asia, South Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East.10 At the very least, the meetings
could potentially facilitate better ties between militaries (and thereby dampen the
possibilities of interstate mistrust). They could also inform the U.S. military about
emerging threats, independent of environmental concerns.
No-regrets policies will pay off even if climate change proves less worrisome
than many now fear. But given that the worries about climate change are likely to be
proved right, policymakers need to go beyond these minimal measures.
The strongest policies will simultaneously address problems in multiple domains.
Policies should address climate security challenges but could also help reduce greenhouse
gas emissions, shore up energy security, or provide economic benefits.
Stephen E. Flynn of the Council on Foreign Relations has made a strong case for
investments in U.S. physical infrastructure and disaster response capabilities to reduce
the potential for catastrophic damage from terrorism, natural disasters, and pandemics.
Drawing on a recommendation from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Flynn
suggests that an investment in our infrastructure of $295 billion per year for five years
will create spillover benefits to the national economy, in the same way the Interstate
Highway System did in the 1950s.11 The United States should support this infrastructure
One 2002 study estimated a five-year Central Asia environmental security program (including
conferences, staff, exchanges, and small projects) would cost $18 million. Updating for inflation and
multiplying by five, a similar initiative today would likely cost $100 million. R.B. Knapp, Central Asia
Environmental Security Technical Workshop: Responding to the Centcom Vision (Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory, August 1, 2002); available at
See page xxi in Stephen Flynn, The Edge of Disaster (New York: Random House, 2007).
investment program and dedicate a healthy portion to “climate proof” vulnerable
infrastructure, particularly in coastal areas.
Another example comes from the Law of the Sea Treaty. As argued earlier, the
melting of Arctic ice puts U.S. interests in jeopardy. However, by not ratifying the Law
of the Sea Treaty, the United States risks not being party to the adjudicating body that
will determine which countries have rights to the region’s resources. The Law of the Sea
Treaty has been strongly supported by American commercial interests, environmentalists,
and the military, all of which see their specific concerns enhanced by ratification. As of
this writing, however, a highly motivated few who see treaties as infringements on
national sovereignty have stymied final approval. In light of new security concerns from
climate change in the Arctic, the U.S. Senate should overcome this inertia and provide its
consent to the treaty.
Reducing risks ahead of time is almost always less costly than responding to disasters
after the fact. One estimate from the U.S. Geological Survey and the World Bank
suggested an investment of $40 billion would have prevented disaster losses of $280
billion in the 1990s. Between 1960 and 2000, the Chinese spent $3.15 billion on flood
control, and averted losses of an estimated $12 billion.12 Yet the world currently spends
too little on adaptive strategies that would reduce climate risk because adaptation has
been wrongly perceived as a competitor to mitigation. Supporters of a more robust
climate policy have been unenthusiastic about adaptation because they fear it would
signal that the world had given up on greenhouse gas emission reductions. This attitude is
starting to change, but unless the change is accelerated, the United States and its allies
will be forced to expend greater effort later on, including calling upon military assets, to
compensate for inadequate risk reduction and disaster response capabilities.
See DFID, Natural Disaster and Disaster Risk Reduction Measures, December 8, 2005; available at
The government effort should begin by providing incentives for individuals and
firms to reduce risk, particularly through building codes and ensuring that federally
funded disaster insurance discourages dangerous coastal settlements. The latter might be
done, for example, by limiting government guarantees to rebuild homes and
infrastructure that are situated in vulnerable places. The Stern Review, a report by
economist Nicholas Stern to the UK government, estimated that the additional resources
required to insulate new infrastructure in the United States from climate risk would be on
the order of $5 billion to $50 billion per year.13 Since this estimate includes only new
infrastructure, it likely understates the total need. Stephen Flynn’s proposal for an
infrastructure investment program of $295 billion per year for five years would probably
be adequate to “climate proof” critical infrastructure and serve other vital public
purposes. While not all of the costs of climate risk reduction will ultimately have to be
shouldered by the government, some public resources will be needed, even if these are
financed by revenues from a carbon tax or from the auctioning of permits in a cap-and-
trade system.
Internationally, there are also scant funds for risk reduction. The World Bank’s
Global Environmental Facility (GEF) administers two adaptation-related funds for
developing countries: the Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and the Least Developed
Country Fund (LDCF). Together, pledges to GEF adaptation programs cumulatively
amount to about $215 million, and although other resources for adaptation exist within
the World Bank Group, their scale should be dramatically expanded.14 Though the United
States is a donor to the GEF, the United States has not contributed to either adaptation
fund. The Stern Review estimated that it would cost developing countries between $4
billion and $37 billion per year to minimize the climate damage to new investments. Of
that total, between $2 billion and $7 billion can be expected to come from external
HM Treasury. The Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, 2006; available at
In April 2007, for example, the LDCF had total pledges of $115.8 million and the SCCF had pledges of
$62 million. Another $50 million was available for the Strategic Priority on Adaptation under the GEF
Trust Fund. The December 2007 climate negotiations in Bali will discuss the institutional home for the
Adaptation Fund, another funding source derived from a portion of the proceeds from Clean Development
Mechanism (CDM) projects. The CDM is one of the Kyoto Protocol’s flexibility mechanisms. Global
Environmental Facility, Status Report on the Climate Change Funds (GEF, June 6–9, 2006); available at Rev.1ClimateChange.pdf.
finance to cover direct foreign investments vulnerable to climate change. But the balance
of developing countries’ infrastructure investments needs to be protected, too. Given poor
countries’ resource constraints, foreign aid should cover at least part of the cost. A
modest investment in adaptation in poor countries will likely be much more cost-effective
than responding to state failure or humanitarian disasters through military and relief
The United States should take the lead on adaptation by supporting a Climate
Change and Natural Disaster Risk Reduction initiative on a scale similar to President
George W. Bush’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. The president’s AIDS plan
delivered $15 billion over five years through a combination of bilateral programs and
support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria. Based on the initial
estimates of the adaptation costs for poor countries, climate risk reduction should have at
least that level of support, divided between bilateral and multilateral programs. The bulk
of this support should finance adaptation programs by vulnerable governments. It should
go beyond the protection of new infrastructure and include agricultural research and
planning for emergencies. The previously mentioned military-to-military workshops for
disaster management should form part of this effort, too. The United States should take
advantage of the creation of AFRICOM to create a multiagency African Risk Reduction
Pool with a budget of at least $100 million per year. AFRICOM may develop new ways
of incorporating climate and other environmental concerns into conflict prevention. It
may also serve as a model for interagency coordination that is applicable to other regions.
AFRICOM is already structured to have a State Department official as the deputy.
There is a danger, however, that the mission will be conceived narrowly as capturing and
killing terrorists. While important, another component should be conflict prevention to
address the underlying causes of political instability, including the potential for climate
change to contribute to refugee crises and water and resource scarcity, among other
problems. For conflict prevention, most environmental adaptation programming will be
development work rather than traditional security initiatives, necessitating greater on-the-
ground coordination between civilian and military agencies.
The idea of a risk-reduction pool is based on the African Conflict Prevention Pool
(ACPP), a collaborative effort by the United Kingdom’s Department for International
Development (DFID), the Ministry of Defence (MOD), and the Foreign and
Commonwealth Office (FCO), which is equivalent to the U.S. State Department. The
three agencies pool their funds for conflict prevention. The ACPP, with a subsidy from
the UK Treasury, has a budget of more than £60 million per year ($120 million). Funds
are administered by all three agencies in a “joined-up” field operation where interagency
teams collaborate on a common strategy. Depending upon their area of expertise and
comparative advantage, individual agencies draw down resources for different purposes
(such as security sector reform, demobilization of soldiers, efforts to control small arms,
and programs addressing the economic and social causes of conflict). This model offers
great potential for enhanced interagency collaboration in the field and can minimize
duplicative programming. The U.S. version, likewise, should draw upon a broader
number of civilian agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the
Department of Agriculture, NASA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA
(National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). The pool should finance a number
of climate security initiatives, including early warning systems of extreme weather events
as well as investments in coastal defenses, water conservation, dispute settlement
systems, and drought-resistant crops. Whatever climate changes come to pass, these
measures would be designed to minimize the potential consequences for political stability
and social strife.
Even a successful portfolio of risk-reduction and conflict prevention strategies
will experience an occasional failure. When crises do strike, the pool approach would
facilitate rapid response and better integration of military and civilian efforts to move
quickly from emergency to postcrisis. The pool should finance contingency plans for
humanitarian relief operations and purchase some relief supplies in the event of crises,
including surplus grains from African farmers. While African countries may resist a
heavy U.S. footprint, the United States should consider some pre-positioning of lift
capabilities and ground transport for emergency situations either at the main base in
Africa, once established, or distributed throughout the region as needed. The Africa
example is a model of what potentially could be extended to other vulnerable regions.
At the domestic level, the absence of a federal policy on climate change has paralyzed
more proactive efforts to insulate the United States from climate risks, and this extends
even to efforts to document the problem. As of October 2007, the House of
Representatives had appropriated $50 million for an innovative two-year Commission on
Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation for fiscal year 2008. The Senate had not
appropriated any support for the commission. An important complement to the ongoing
National Intelligence Estimate on climate and security, the commission would allow the
EPA to fund studies by a number of federal agencies. Studies could also consider the
cost-effectiveness of different policy remedies, including improved sea defenses, building
codes, emergency response plans, and even relocation strategies. Congress should fully
fund the commission’s activities. Research should focus on whether and where extreme
weather events could cause localized humanitarian crises, divert or disable national
security instruments, or contribute to regional disorder.
Internationally, the first priority should be to generate more precise estimates of
adaptation costs. The United States, perhaps acting in coordination with the IPCC or
World Bank, should take existing studies of coastal areas vulnerable to climate change
and evaluate which strategies are likely to yield the most damage reduction at the least
cost. A similar analysis should be conducted for food production and freshwater
availability. A global assessment from the Bank might identify countries most vulnerable
to climate change without regard to their underlying geopolitical importance. A U.S. risk
assessment might be more targeted, focusing on countries that are of more obvious
national security concern to the United States. The National Intelligence Council is
preparing an analysis on climate change and national security that may provide a first
assessment of this challenge. More global studies would have the advantage of pooling
expertise and potentially identifying areas of non-obvious security significance.
Analysis and projections should be supplemented with more sophisticated real-
time information on changing climate conditions. While meteorological information
about the United States is extensive, satellite coverage in other parts of the globe is
patchy. One asset that would be valuable, particularly in the African context, is the High
Altitude Airship (HAA), an unmanned blimp that can be positioned for months at a time
to monitor weather systems and provide more continuous surveillance than a satellite.
Unfortunately, funding for an HAA prototype from the Missile Defense Agency has been
cut in recent years and is scheduled for elimination in 2008. For this worthwhile program
to continue, Congress should appropriate $100 million over the next three fiscal years to
ensure that the prototype is ready by the end of fiscal year 2010.
While risk reduction is essential, climate damages are likely to exceed most
governments’ adaptive capacities unless a major reduction in greenhouse gases takes
place before the mid-twenty-first century. For example, the IPCC reports that by 2050,
three coastal deltas—the Nile, the Mekong, and Ganges-Brahmaputra—will be extremely
vulnerable to climate change, meaning that more than a million people could be
displaced.15 And just as many adaptation policies have clear national security dimensions,
so do many possible mitigation initiatives. Consider three cases that illustrate this: China,
India, and Indonesia.
Engagement remains the most important strategy to encourage China to become a
status quo power and reduce the risk that China’s rise leads to confrontation between the
great powers. Climate policy provides a valuable avenue for such engagement. While
advanced industrialized countries bear historic responsibility for existing concentrations
of greenhouse gases, China will be increasingly fingered as a climate culprit in the future.
This will create a common interest between the United States and China in avoiding
world condemnation for being “climate villains.” Enlightened climate diplomacy could
build on that common interest to improve U.S.-China relations.
At the same time, climate change could also possibly become a wedge issue in the
U.S.-China relationship. For example, a climate bill currently before Congress would
R.J. Nicholls, et al. “Coastal systems and low-lying areas.” Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation
and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 2007);
available at
allow the president, if he or she deems a country’s climate efforts to be inadequate, to
impose tariff-like fees on carbon-intensive imports such as steel beginning in 2019. Such
legislation, if passed, would probably be used against China, adding to existing frictions
over trade, intellectual property, and the level of China’s currency. So just as climate
change presents an opportunity to solidify relations with China, so too does it present the
possibility of new tensions in the relationship. Deft handling of the climate dimension of
the U.S.-China relationship could have profound implications.
Once the United States joins other rich countries in adopting a domestic regime to
control carbon emissions, climate change will become an important part of the global
rules–based order. Whether China chooses to remain engaged depends on whether it can
meet its perceived needs inside the system. A climate policy that induces China to join
the rules-based global regime for dealing with global warming—independent of the fine
details of that policy—would contribute to the broader project of cementing China’s
commitment to the world order, which in turn could create payoffs in building a positive
security relationship. At the same time, clumsy handling of climate issues could sour
relations more broadly, damaging American security interests well beyond the climate
The same is true of India. While the 2006 nuclear agreement with India was
designed to reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation,16 from a security-oriented climate
perspective, the nuclear deal also has the potential to restrain the country’s greenhouse
gas emissions. David G. Victor of Stanford University and the Council on Foreign
Relations estimates that if India were to build twenty gigawatts of nuclear power as
envisioned in the 2006 agreement, this could save 145 million tonnes per year of carbon
dioxide emissions that would otherwise have been belched from coal-generating plants.17
As part of this broader strategy of geopolitically informed climate policy, the
United States should make sure that enhancing formal participation by China and India in
Michael A. Levi and Charles D. Ferguson, U.S.-India Nuclear Cooperation (Council on Foreign
Relations, June 2006;); available at
David G. Victor, “The India Nuclear Deal: Implications for Global Climate Change,” testimony
before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources (Stanford University Program
on Energy and Sustainable Development, July 18, 2006); available at
important global institutions is a part of its climate change mitigation strategy. In
particular, it should promote closer engagement between China and India and the
International Energy Agency (IEA), a body that currently excludes both countries from
its membership. The IEA is an important organization for building trust and cooperation
among energy consumers. It will also be increasingly significant in helping countries
reduce greenhouse gases.18 Already, the IEA has memoranda of understanding with both
countries to enhance cooperation on climate change; were the U.S. government to support
the deepening of these ties with an eye toward eventual membership, it would help
advance climate goals while further integrating China and India into the rules-based
global order.
Indonesia provides another example. Indonesia is a major player in climate
change because of deforestation, which releases carbon stored in plant matter and the
soil: deforestation and forest fires in Indonesia helped make it the third-largest
contributor of greenhouse gases behind the United States and China. Paying Indonesia to
keep its forests would likely be a much cheaper way for rich countries to avoid emitting
greenhouse gases than retrofitting existing industrial infrastructure or seeking a rapid
change in transportation fuels. But there is a security angle here, too. Indonesia’s political
instability has fostered terrorist groups that may have global ambitions. Managing
forestry payments deftly could help to solidify Indonesia’s social order and discourage
radicals. In Aceh, for example, the provincial government, led by a former rebel, is
seeking support for avoided deforestation as a means of persuading former separatists to
protect the forests and refrain from picking up their guns; providing him with the
resources he seeks could mitigate both climate change and separatism. Similar win-win
opportunities may exist in other strategically important countries, including Brazil and
the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The idea of compensating other countries for avoided deforestation has gained
attention in recent years, spurred by a proposal from Costa Rica and Papua New Guinea
on behalf of forest-rich countries at the 2005 Conference of Parties (COP) in Montreal.
However, the Kyoto Protocol, largely because of worries about problems monitoring and
IEA membership is linked to membership in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD). The OECD has ongoing discussions about making both China and India members,
though the lack of democracy in China may prove an impediment to formal membership.
charting actual savings, did not allow avoided deforestation to generate tradable
emissions credits. Thus, countries can get paid for replanting forests but not for
preventing them from being cut down in the first place. At the 2007 G8 Summit, the
World Bank achieved agreement on a $250 million pilot project for avoided deforestation
in five countries.19 The Bank is now seeking funding for the pilot; the program’s official
launch is supposed to take place at the climate negotiations in Bali in December 2007.
However, if countries like Indonesia are to benefit and if savings from avoided emissions
from forestry are to materialize, the United States must play an active role in addressing
the remaining technical issues and ensure the pilot program is fully funded.20 At the same
time, the U.S. has an opportunity to shape future climate negotiations by insisting that
credits from avoided deforestation be included in a successor agreement to the Kyoto
Avoided deforestation is now also referred to as reduced emissions from deforestation and degradation
(REDD). The World Bank estimates that the pilot program could result in about 40 million tonnes in
avoided carbon dioxide emissions between 2008 and 2012, conserving about 100,000 hectares of forest.
The World Bank has proposed an ambitious Global Forest Alliance (GFA), partnering with large
environmental nongovernmental organizations like the Nature Conservancy to implement the program, the
so-called Forest Carbon Partnership Facility.
Among the main technical issues that need to be determined are how to develop baselines for emissions
reductions and how to compensate states and individual forest owners for their actions.
The importance of climate policy to national security demands that it receive much
greater prioritization across the U.S. federal government. In the current administration,
climate policy is largely run by two players: the head of the White House Council on
Environmental Quality cooperates with the senior climate negotiator at the State
Department in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific
Affairs. Other players in the federal government have largely been sidelined. There are
few efforts to integrate climate concerns into top-level decision-making.
Several positions created during the 1990s but abolished in recent years could be
useful templates for the future. A special assistant position on climate change, focused
only on climate rather than on the broad range of environmental questions that fall under
the purview of the director of the Council on Environmental Quality, was tasked to
oversee interagency cooperation. The NSC also had a senior director for environmental
affairs, a position that was later eliminated and folded under International Trade, Energy,
and the Environment. The Department of Defense created a deputy undersecretary of
defense for environmental security tasked to deal both with the environmental footprint
of the military and the emerging security concerns associated with environmental harms
and natural hazards. The military’s environmental impact was later subsumed into the
portfolio of the deputy undersecretary for installations and environment; the substantive
policy focus was dropped.
Given the strong links between climate change and security, the rebuilding of a
cadre of officials focused on climate should begin at the Pentagon. A new deputy
undersecretary of defense position for environmental security (under the broader mandate
of OSD’s policy office) should be created to redress the insufficient institutionalization of
climate and environmental concerns in DOD decision-making.21 With a small staff of
roughly two dozen people, that office could provide constant attention to the strategic
dimensions of emerging environmental security threats and champion specific proposals
Environmental cleanup and conservation should remain in a separate office on the logistics and
installations side of DOD.
like the military-to-military workshops, the African Risk Reduction Pool, and investment
in the High-Altitude Airship. At the same time, the environmental security outfit could
ensure that other offices charged to deal with homeland security look beyond terrorism to
consider environmental threats like extreme weather events. Concerns about emerging
environmental harms should also be integrated into the planning and operations of the
regional combatant commands. Unless these issues are perceived to be a priority by DOD
leadership at the highest levels, regional commanders might treat environmental security
as solely the preserve of this small new office. That would be a mistake. The next
president can ensure the issue gets the priority it deserves by integrating climate security
concerns centrally into its National Security Strategy.22
It would be counterproductive, though, to treat climate security concerns solely or
even primarily with the traditional tools of national defense. These instruments may not
be best suited for the purposes of reducing the vulnerability of countries to natural
hazards made worse by climate change. While greater integration of the military into
coordinated disaster planning will be useful and necessary, there is a tendency to confuse
national defense with what the military can do. Adaptation policies, both at home and
abroad, will likely be supported by non-Defense Department agencies.
Mobilization of all the tools in the U.S. government’s arsenal will require high-
level attention to climate change among White House officials who lead the interagency
process. Since climate change is an issue that straddles domestic and international
domains, neither the National Security Council nor the Domestic Policy Council is
equipped on its own to develop a coherent response across the federal government. The
president should direct the leadership of both agencies to work together to clarify
responsibilities and coordination mechanisms so that climate security concerns do not fall
through the cracks.
Leadership from the White House could take several forms. The president could
re-create a senior director position at the NSC and a small number of supporting directors
to deal with climate change and the environment. Given the cross-cutting nature of the
That, in turn, will set the stage for broader climate security concerns to cascade down, as they should,
into other planning efforts like the Quadrennial Defense Review and Theater Security Cooperation Plans.
Theater Security Cooperation Plans are documents that combatant commands use to coordinate regional
security cooperation during peacetime.
issue, that senior director should be appointed to the NSC, the Council on Environmental
Quality, and the National Economic Council. But since these officials would not control
agency budgets, additional senior NSC staff might be needed to ensure that the security
dimensions of climate policy get sufficient attention. One possibility is to create a deputy
national security adviser (DNSA) position for sustainable development, tasked to oversee
foreign assistance, humanitarian issues, pandemic disease, and also emerging
environmental threats like climate change. The DNSA and the senior director for
environmental affairs at the NSC would be well placed to guide the interagency process.
Even with these recommendations, the links between climate and security still
might not get sufficient attention. One additional institutional change could overcome this
problem by placing climate change closer to the president. Special advisers to the
president with some budgetary authority can be especially effective. President Bush
created positions for a global AIDS coordinator and a director of foreign assistance.
Presidents have long had drug czars. President Bill Clinton had a special assistant for
climate change. Re-creation of this post with actual budgetary authority would go a long
way to driving interagency coordination and ensuring more coherence between the
national security pieces of this problem and those related to energy and environmental
Congress should adopt a more limited agenda of institutional change to increase
the visibility of climate security. Climate security touches on the potential jurisdiction of
a number of different committees, and given the fractious nature of the legislative branch,
it may be difficult to channel climate security concerns in a way that boosts their salience.
The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Climate Change was
created to focus climate and energy policy, but its mandate is set to expire at the end of
October 2008. It may be helpful to make this committee permanent while tasking it to
identify appropriate policies to reduce U.S. vulnerability to climate security risks. Since
this committee is new and has no legislative authority, it is unclear if it will be a useful
vehicle even before it expires. Congress should wait to evaluate its success before making
it permanent.
Congressional oversight, though, will be important regardless. The assessment of
climate and security that is being prepared by the National Intelligence Council (NIC)
should be provided to the relevant committees in Congress, including the House and
Senate Committees on Appropriations, Armed Services, and the Select Committees on
Intelligence. Congress should ask the NIC to provide regular updates on climate and
security risks. At the very least, it would be useful for Congress to get updated
assessments after the release of important peer-review reports of climate science, like the
IPCC assessments or those the president may request from the National Academy of
Until recently, the debate about climate change has emphasized how large the economic
consequences are, how these compare to the costs of action, and whether the United
States or other nations can afford to address the issue. Extreme weather events such as
Hurricane Katrina, the fires in Greece, and the floods in Africa and Asia suggest a
different way of thinking about the issue. The macroeconomic costs of Hurricane Katrina
were minimal in the context of a large and resilient U.S. economy, but the human and
political consequences were significant and painful. Whether or not Katrina was linked to
global warming, climate change will likely yield more of these kinds of episodes, which
are characterized by concentrated costs to particular places and people, leading to severe
local impacts and cascading consequences for others.
The concentrated impacts of climate change will have important national security
implications, both in terms of the direct threat from extreme weather events as well as
broader challenges to U.S. interests in strategically important countries. Domestically,
extreme weather events made more likely by climate change could endanger large
numbers of people, damage critical infrastructure (including military installations), and
require mobilization and diversion of military assets. Internationally, a number of
countries of strategic concern are likely to be vulnerable to climate change, which could
lead to refugee and humanitarian crises and, by immiserating tens of thousands,
contribute to domestic and regional instability.
Climate policy should seek to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.
It should start with no-regrets measures that make sense even if the consequences of
climate change prove less than severe. These include coastal protection at home and
support for military-to-military environmental security conferences overseas. In addition,
the United States should support policies that simultaneously address multiple problems,
such as those that reduce security risks but also provide economic benefits—investments
in infrastructure, for example. The United States must also recognize that the existing
concentration of greenhouse gases guarantees that some climate change is inevitable.
U.S. policies should thus support risk reduction and adaptation at home and abroad.
Specific adaptation policies that could be supported are early warning systems, building
codes, emergency response plans, coastal defenses, and evacuation and relocation
While risk-reduction programs are a necessary component of a climate policy that
addresses national security, the United States and the world will need to move to a
decarbonized energy future before century’s end—it is widely agreed that a major push to
support new technologies to lower greenhouse gas emissions and sequester carbon is
essential. But policymakers must recognize that mitigation policies involve not only costs
but also opportunities to strengthen national security. A new compact on clean energy
technology transfer to China and India would bolster support for the rules-based global
order that the United States has nurtured since World War II. An avoided deforestation
scheme, particularly in strategically important countries such as Indonesia, could not only
reduce greenhouse gas emissions but also support stability and conflict resolution.
Finally, for these policy recommendations to have traction, institutional reform is needed.
To give voice to climate and security concerns, several new positions should be created
across the executive branch—in the Department of Defense, in the National Security
Council, and in the Office of the President.
The policy proposals presented here are illustrative rather than exhaustive, but
they have the potential to strengthen national security by reducing U.S. vulnerabilities to
climate change at home and abroad, securing and stabilizing important partners, and
contributing to other goals such as energy security and industrial revitalization. In a world
of new security challenges, forging a climate policy along these lines must be a national

Danny Bloom is the founder of the POLAR CITY RESEARCH CENTER in 2006.


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