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Pentagon Fears Confirmed: Climate Change Leads to War, Refugees (bloomberg.com)
55 points by gregcrv 18 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 61 comments

7.5+ billion people and counting, some of which enjoy the highest standard of living our species has ever known. Those that don't enjoy that standard of living want it, drawing down from a pool of finite resources.

Now throw in the ramifications of climate change like drinking water shortages, food and resource scarcity, and migrations from coastal cities - the opportunity for conflict will only rise amongst people and nations.

My concern is that this can lead to large scale nuclear war. Yes I'm aware of MAD, but that doesn't protect us from everything. Look at Vasili Arkhipov, Stanislav Petrov, Boris Yeltsin and the Norwegian Rocket Incident. They are just a small number of publicly known incidents where large scale nuclear war was almost triggered due to computer glitches and/or miscommunication. The proliferation of nuclear weapons adds additional challenges in maintaining the peace and we must also deal with existing nuclear actors experiencing wide swings in political leadership - like what has happened with the US presidency.

We live in interesting times.

It's not the resources that's the limiting factor, it's the side effect from our consumption

The world will be forced to give up this standard of living by force, be it human or by nature, and it is not going to be pretty.

FWIW, during my one and only ayahuasca retreat...I remember hearing "It will get worse before it gets better. Free yourself of the Disease."

Lately I've been wondering if a full-scale thermonuclear exchange might actually save us in the long run. Our endlessly growing industry is going to eventually wipe out much more of our biosphere than even a worst-case nuclear exchange would. Imagine that. It might actually end up dampening our industry and giving us more time. Sure, fallout is a terrible thing--you have a bunch of deadly isotopes hanging over a region with a half-life of 80,000 years or so--but what is the half-life of a Sahara desert? How would most of the world hunker down and survive if nearly all latitudes resembled that for the next few million years? What about when our oceans completely collapse? There's already dead zones the size of entire continents out there. How long will that last when the whole thing is a dead zone and has to start over? If that happens, all large, complex life on land will be 100% fucked. That would last so, so long that even if humankind somehow miraculously managed to survive (fyi: they wouldn't) the survivors would no longer be anatomically modern humans by the end. They would have slowly differentiated and adapted and evolved through several stages of new, distinct species along the way. Our sentence for the crimes we're carrying out today will be that long.

The great oxygenation event is probably the most similar historical precedent for what could happen if we continue chemically sterilizing the oceans:


We're in for a very tough time--I don't want to sow any seeds of defeatism or unnecessary cynicism, but we are no longer looking at a choice between catastrophe and a continuation of our normal way of life. We are looking at a choice between catastrophe and utter cataclysm. Between hundreds of millions of deaths and billions. This is going to eventually come to truly desperate measures. Humankind will not get through this without having to make some incredibly difficult and bloody decisions in the future. Every day we dawdle and ponder what to do makes the decision our descendants will get stuck with more and more horrific and Pyrrhic. It will eventually come to a point that the most rational decision is to start attacking industry and agriculture with force. That's terrible, but there will come a day when it's an act of basic self-defense. It will also lead to strife and death and famine for millions. But we no longer have the privilege of choosing an option that doesn't involve suffering and atrocity--we have missed our best chances and in the future we will be forced to choose based on the degree of harm, not whether or not there will be harm. The horrors of the 20th century won't even hold a candle to what we're currently laying out for our offspring. It's utterly shameful.

The world today is safer, more civilized, and more prosperous than it has ever been in history, but this is a false stability that we're borrowing against our own future to maintain. It's eventually going to come back to us with a shitload of interest.

It focuses on the middle east, where the US (& allies) / NATO have been the driving forces behind most of the recent "conflicts" that led to forced migrations (Iraq, Libya, Syria), and then says "climate change had a significant impact"? Do generals at the Pentagon get too war-happy when it's too warm on average in any given year? Or is it that plunging Libya and Syria into civil war and leaving Iraq close to it wouldn't have mattered as much if it wasn't for that sea level rise?

"The ongoing Syrian conflict, which began in March 2011, has drawn attention from both the scientific community and the media to the question of how climatic conditions can contribute to political unrest and civil war. Recent studies of the Syrian uprising have shown that growing water scarcity and frequent droughts, coupled with poor water management, led to multiyear crop failures, economic deterioration and consequently mass migration of rural families to urban areas (Gleick, 2014; Kelley et al., 2015). Rapid growing population, overcrowding, unemployment and increased inequality put pressure on urban centers and finally contributed to the breakout of political unrest"

That's the introduction paragraph. "Blaming the US" for all turmoil in the Middle East is far too simplistic.

I don't doubt that you can find something statistically significant (once you control for everything else) but every time this comes up, the relative sizes of things seem vastly under-emphasized.

If 5% less rain does bad things for stability, and what surely matters is food per mouth, then what's 4x the population doing?


5% rain doesn't mean 5% less crops. It's a nonlinear relationship that could mean 1% less crops or 90% less crops.

Absolutely, and I pulled 5% out of thin air, too.

Here's a graph with the famous Arab spring 2011 drought... about 10%, for one year. You can debate how much of that you wish to attribute to what cause. But note that this is also the population growth since 2011 alone.


If you have 4x the population, you plant 4x the grain. If you have drought, 4x the grain would succumb to drought.

You can plant extra grain in anticipation but you need to commit to buying possibly unneeded grain, which pushes up costs, which causes problems for the people you're trying to help.

> That's the introduction paragraph. "Blaming the US" for all turmoil in the Middle East is far too simplistic.

Sure, you're right (at least in a general sense; Libya, Iraq are 100% on the US/NATO). But saying climate change plays a significant role in a conflict that has been started by external forces is a joke. We might've seen wars in the middle east without US/NATO starting them, and climate change would probably have played a role in those (as would population size), but we won't, because they did start them.

It's a nice meme, though. "It wasn't us by arming, training and directing forces to topple a Regime we didn't like - it was climate change!"

It's clear from that same introduction paragraph that the focus of the studies is pretty narrow and excludes a whole slew of factors that would normally be considered extremely relevant.

No it's making a whole generation of people coming from agriculture or other water/climate dependent jobs looking to change their untenable situation. When they don't find it, they're easily recruited cannon fodder for hate/terror orgs.

You mean they enroll in the US military? /sarcasm

the latter, although it doesn't have anything to do with sea levels in these cases

My favorite thing is when Republicans - so supportive of the military and focused on practical matters of safety and defense - are the ones continuing to deny climate change. Even though the military is publishing statements and studies saying "no, actually this is a thing we're very worried about and actively taking steps to prepare for".

Support our troops! (Unless they have ideas which threaten our world view...)

Click bait. The article is clear... "political conditions play an outsize role. If it’s too authoritarian or too democratic the results are different."

Not explicitly mentioned: The research they reference links droughts in the middle east during 2009-2012 to the migration and refugee situation which has played out in last decade from the Arab Spring.[1]

The casual factor that I don't see talked about much: increased local food prices[2] caused by droughts, which in my opinion very much provided the kindling of the "Arab Spring", whose consequences are still very much being played out today.

Related aside: When learning about ancient Rome, it stuck with me that the emperors and ruling elite were acutely aware of the importance of providing sufficient "bread and circuses" with the goal of quelling revolution and uprising. When the political situation is not popular in the first place, revolutions are often sparked when food and basic necessities suddenly become difficult to acquire. This has been true since antiquity. [3]

When looking at the impact of climate change, I am very concerned about what the impact of a small number of poorly placed natural disasters could do to the world's food supply and prices. Much of the world's food production is concentrated in a small number of breadbaskets, and global commodity markets can be very sensitive to relatively small changes in supply. These breadbaskets are often close together, represent only a small amount of the world's land area and when conditions are good are highly productive.[4]

I'm sure the security agencies of the world are aware of this and are deeply concerned about this, but unfortunately I can only see our global situation getting worse before it gets better. At some point we need to realize this as a serious, shared issue that ignores borders.

[1] https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20190123-climate-stress-dr... [2] https://www.americansecurityproject.org/climate-change-the-a... [3] http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/plebians.html [4] https://myweb.rollins.edu/jsiry/agrcultint.jpg

Every 80s and 90s post-apocalyptic movie taught me this.

I would rather blame overpopulation than climate change for the upcoming wars and refugee waves

The problem isn't "overpopulation" it is resource consumption.

How can it be too many people when a person in one country uses 20x as many resources as a person in another?

It's both. Unless we plan to stop, by force if necessary, the rest achieving a developed life.

If 1m have profligate Western lifestyle, the planet and climate would cope just fine.

If 7bn desire and are advertised at to desire a profligate Western lifestyle, then the climate is going to break long before all get there.

But the resources in question here (for stability of mid-east countries) are local: there's only so much land along the Nile, and only so much oil in the Saudi wells. Quadrupling the population makes every fight over slices of the pie more intense within these countries.

The miracle is really that somehow they have almost kept up. Here's the green revolution: Egypt has roughly doubled yield, and (if you click around) roughly trebled the harvest, while quadrupling in population:


> How can it be too many people when a person in one country uses 20x as many resources as a person in another?

A non-uniform distribution of resource use and overpopulation are not mutually exclusive, both occur simultaneously.

Pithy response but not in line with reality. If we are talking about climate change in the context of globalized economies, then it should be understood that US demand and lifestyle is contributing more to the problem than a poor guy living in India.

India still has a number of people comparable in size to the entire US population living without any electricity, and that's arguably a failure on India's part. I agree that this should be understood.

I'd also take it another step and point out as India makes progress on pulling its overpopulated disaster out of poverty it will quickly surpass the US in absolute CO2 emissions because of how many people there are. This is especially true should they utilize their abundant coal reserves in the process.

Just look to China's CO2 emissions. It's already nearly double the US as of 2013 [1], while they still have plenty of room for growth on the quality of life axis.

All this crap is only problematic because of overpopulation across the planet. It requires the huge numbers of people to produce such volumes of emissions that we're altering the global climate. We can bicker and finger-point all we want about which group arrived at the western high-consumption lifestyle first and enjoyed more of it before everyone else got there, but it's ignoring the elephant in the room; that there's far too many people to simultaneously live this gluttonous party globally. The more people there are, the less equal things must be.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_carbon_di...

Well, some countries are lucky enough to own land apt for large-scale agriculture and agroindustry: Argentina, Canada, Russia, others are not: Jordania, Yemen, Libia... So, having large populations in these less fortunate countries is not sustainable at all, and this regardless of how selfish are those 20xconsumption countries

Does the Pentagon "fear this", or more likely "yay this"?

loving this new Civilization 6 expansion, cool mechanics

What if this is the insidious reason those in power refuse to address climate change? They know they can make money off of the chaos and war.

Never underestimate the profits of established industries from continuing business as usual...

Climate change is not just some "use electric cars" thing, it's also "change whole industries", "stop producing/selling as much crap" thing, and that flies in the face of constant magnification of everything...

It is a pesky little fact that all the climate models have thus far been wrong and there is still no scientific proof that CO2 drives temperatures.

The best research on the table at the moment shows we may be facing a super maunder minimum and possible mini ice age. This research will pan out or not in the next 2-5 years as it is actually falsifiable.

No falsifiable claim = no science

Your foolish fringe-science delusions and intellectual arrogance are going to drive your descendants to despair and death. But I have no doubt you'll go to your grave unconvinced no matter what the evidence points to, blissfully leaving the outcome of your decisions to future generations. It's ironic that you mention falsifiable claims, since literally no amount of overwhelming evidence can ever convince deniers that their claims are false.

Climate models are not "wrong" or "right," they are models based on finite variables which resemble reality within an expected margin of error. Thus they will always have slight but expected variance from actual measurements in the future. Science doesn't reveal absolute truth, it gets us fractionally closer to absolute truth. Right now 97% of scientists have reached a consensus that even based on the most conservative extremes of the margin of error of our climate models that anthropogenic climate change is real and is marching towards catastrophe. That's a higher degree of certainty than plenty of other scientific concepts that we have put into practice. You are claiming to have better knowledge than the utterly overwhelming majority of evidence and expert observation. Is it because you are miraculously the smartest person on earth, or is it because you are a deluded crank? It's pretty obvious which it is to everyone but yourself and other conspiracy peddlers.

Ad hominem attacks are the sign you have left logic at the wayside and are running on emotion. It is often a sign that your belief, true or not, has been reinforced with false logic, as when confronted with true logic you are unable to appropriately respond. Don't worry, we all get better with practice.

Falacy Falacy. It's not nice that the meanie head called you names, but where is your actual citation? Where are actual studies to back up your claims?

You just repeat yourself here, as elsewhere, that somehow an "ad hominem" by your opponite supports your view? That's not how this works and is in fact, ironically, an ad hominem attack.

Condescending, gets hung up on form and image instead of substance. Pretty obvious deflection. Everybody runs on emotion as well as reason, and there are perfectly reasonable situations to get emotional. Maybe you get a lot of ad-hominem attacks because you deserve it.

Want the debate club response? Just endless, endless sources and studies and data. They are out there and they are overwhelming and conclusive.



Be sure to click through and check out all the individual citations. I wonder if you'll actually live up to your supposed principles and care about the evidence.

I actually have a theory about debate club weenies like yourself - you act in such an annoying and objectionable way to force people to roast you, because saying "ah, adhominem, therefore I win" is the only way you can win since your arguments can never withstand scrutiny

> The best research on the table at the moment shows we may be facing a super maunder minimum and possible mini ice age.

That's not "the best research," that's the research that fits your worldview most comfortably.


It is the research with the most accurate models at the moment.

It used to be consensus that the world was flat. Consensus is not science. Only falsifiable claims are science.

A lot of people who share your view on climate change still think the world is flat. Something to think about.

I'm not sure what you mean about my view. Perhaps you can explain?

It is a fact all atmospheric climate models have failed. The temperature rise predictions based on atmospheric CO2 have not materialized.

It is a fact there are other models that are more accurate than atmospheric models. It is a fact we will find out in a few years if those models are tracking or not.

Are you against performance scientific inquiry if it conflicts with your assumptions? Isn't that the entire point of science, to find out the truth?

> It is a fact all atmospheric climate models have failed.

That isn't a fact.

* citation needed

edoo 18 days ago [flagged]


The solar physicist community has the current most accurate climate models and they only crunch sun data and not C02 data in any way.

Those models show lowering temperatures as we now enter a maunder minimum. Those models will pan out or not in the next few years. Their claim is falsifiable.

Their claim is not falsifiable. They’ve taken PCAs of magnetic waves. They might be right about their part, but this is seriously misleading deflection to say they’re right and others are wrong. Climate models are difficult. Defining accuracy is difficult. Thing is, models that can explain thousands of years of historical climate isn’t relevant, because it’s a different problem than predicting climate now. It’s changing at an unprecedented rate.

You can set up a greenhouse effect experiment and verify that carbon increases the temperature from the sun yourself. We don’t know many things, such as how much CO2 the ocean absorbs, but it really doesn’t matter. We know the globe is getting warmer, CO2 causes atmospheric temperature increases, and that we’re dumping massive amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere.

Their claim is absolutely falsifiable. They have made predictions based on the data. Those predictions will pan out or not, just like all the current CO2 models have failed. What is irrefutable is their models are currently the most accurate. This is real science, the answer will arrive, and even if it is wrong we learned something.

Nah man that’s doubt propagation.

A talk by a climate change denial lobbying group isn't going to convince anyone.

They are doing real science. Their models will be proven wrong or not. All the CO2 based climate models have already been proven wrong. Odd that you would be so against finding out the truth.

I look forward to reading their peer reviewed work then. Otherwise I'm going to take any organization with such an obvious conflict of interest with a giant grain of salt.

I have a model that says you’re a shill. It’d be weird if you contested that because my model is scientific.

If you have a falsifiable claim let's test it. Otherwise I win, you devolved to ad hominem attacks in the face of logic.

Test that you’re a shill...? Ok, let’s test it! Let’s see your name and list of corporations / interest groups sending you money.

That’s the best way to falsify this. It would be weird not to check this because it’s a scientific endeavor.

If you know of any groups that would actually pay me to point out fallacious logic I would love to know about them.

Ok ok. That’s enough for me.

Out of character now. Serious question.

Is it mind numbing or is it entertaining to vomit gross rhetoric to push out an agenda and piss people off? Genuinely curious because I feel like this would suck after a couple hours and especially on forums where you get more sincere bites.


Well, feel free to falsify my earlier statement by utterly doxxing yourself. Until then by the powers of logic and reasoning, for I too am a master, I’m going to reason that given your extremely one sided agenda, repetition of key phrases like “real science” and “falsified”, lack of any actual data, insistence that we need to wait years before knowing anything either way because you can’t actually disprove anything, baiting attempts and now an irrelevant political inflamement that you’re just sucking on the shaft of some corporate interest group paid to spread doubt. Cheers

This is real science, we get to find out if they are right or not in the next couple years. It is rather weird to attack efforts at real science.

Your citation is a Youtube video? How come people who argue against you can cite peer reviewed articles and a ~97-99% consensus among the scientific community?

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