News Release

Environmental Disasters and Their Beneficiaries

On Monday, the New York Times reported: “Humans are transforming Earth’s natural landscapes so dramatically that as many as one million plant and animal species are now at risk of extinction, posing a dire threat to ecosystems that people all over the world depend on for their survival, a sweeping new United Nations assessment has concluded.”

“Democracy Now” reports Tuesday morning that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo remarked at a meeting of the Arctic Council: “Steady reductions in sea ice are opening new passageways and new opportunities for trade.” [See video and text]

VICTOR WALLIS, zendive at aol.com
Wallis is author of Red-Green Revolution: The Politics and Technology of Ecosocialism (2018) and Democracy Denied: Five Lectures on U.S. Politics (2019). See his website: VictorWallis.com.

Wallis said today regarding Pompeo’s remarks: “‘Denial’ is what they broadcast to the public. To the captains of industry, Pompeo is confirming that climate change is indeed taking place and is something to rejoice in! However, the very ice-melting that makes him salivate will lead, at the same time, to the submersion of coastal regions — including major population centers — around the world.” Wallis added that this might result in “opportunities” for “disaster capitalism” that are economic in nature, but “perhaps more significantly, would provide pretext for tightening the screws politically.”

Wallis has written: “The disaster that ecological activists of the last half-century have sought to prevent is already vividly present. Its most dramatic expression, apart from the endlessly repeated scenes of fire, flood, parched earth, and emaciated polar bears, is the tens of millions of refugees, desperate for a place to live. Some are fleeing sea-level rise and flooded or storm-battered homes; others are fleeing wars precipitated by sustained, drought-induced collapses of the food supply (as in Syria, Central Africa, and Central America). Still others are fleeing wars and repression that reflect long-standing imperialist projects, but whose initiators have become ever more intransigent as they seek to ward off the prospect of a diminished resource-base.”

“Increasing percentages of the refugees, if they survive their typically harrowing treks or dangerous sea voyages, come up against vast numbers of agents ‘trained, armed, and paid to stop them.’ This drive to ‘stop them’ is promoted by a ruling class which at the same time relentlessly stokes the economic engines of capital that gave rise to the climate crisis in the first place. While the top U.S. mouthpiece of this ruling class, along with his acolytes at the Environmental ‘Protection’ Agency, mocks the reality of climate change, the military leaders who command the system’s armed enforcers have had no hesitation (for at least the last fifteen years) in publicly situating what they acknowledge to be the consequences of global warming — the droughts, floods, and hurricanes that directly or indirectly have pushed mass migration to its current extreme levels — at the center of their concerns.”

“The alternatives are sharply etched. The currently dominant forces, rather than join the fight against climate change, erect walls to block out its victims. By militarizing the problem, they not only draw resources away from any possible remedial steps; they also accelerate the spread of devastation.”