By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch
SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — America’s “WWIII, the Global Warming War” was launched by the Bush Pentagon in 2004 with this warning: “Climate could change radically and fast … be the mother of all national security issues … hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined,” reported Fortune, causing “massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes.” Accelerating population unrest, so that by “2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening … an old pattern could emerge, warfare defining human life,” expanding in 12 climate change war zones worldwide.
In the past decade America spent over $7 trillion on the Pentagon’s budget. We’ve had time for a new General Eisenhower to emerge, plan and launch a WWIII “D-Day” attack on the “Climate Change” battlefield. Instead, we’re losing WWIII, in retreat, sabotaged by Big Oil, GOP political drama, and a powerful army of climate-science deniers … as 2020 and the “mother of all national security issues” relentlessly targets our defenses.
Well, the president finally launched a counterattack, rearming America with new EPA regulations targeting large carbon emitters, coal-burning power plants. But these regs are the global warming equivalent of video games fighting against combat-ready warriors, military strategies, weapons, B-2 bombers, nuclear armed drones and silo-launched missiles. We’re still virtually defenseless against an enemy with a war chest of billions, millions of employees and science deniers, plus the backing of shareholders, politicians, lobbyists, bankers and auto owners.
Yes, the new EPA regs may minimize the more immediate dangers of all the incoming bogies that trigger global warming — auto pollution, fracking, methane, hot oceans, overfishing, deforestation, glaciers melting. But unfortunately, the new EPA regs aim too low, targeting aging power generators and coal-burning power plants with outdated technology, most of which already are slated for replacement and release a mere 4% of the industry’s CO2 emissions. Worse, the full impact of the new regs won’t kick in till 2030 … long after the Pentagon’s warning ignites.
WWIII? Where’s the “D-Day” urgency? A decade after the Pentagon’s warning that by 2020 “warfare will define human life,” our leaders still lack moral courage as our collective conscience keeps drifting deep into pure materialism, choosing short-term economic growth and jobs, handicapping the long-term survival of the planet and our civilization. Worse, we’re ignoring the growing threat as the world’s population explodes from 7 billion today to 10 billion by 2050, further accelerating unrest among all nations.
WWIII Phase 2: new EPA regs vs. Big Oil, GOP, science deniers
Yes, global-warming politics is an American war, started by the Bush Pentagon. Obama’s EPA regulations officially launched Phase II. As the president put it in an interview with New York Times columnist Tom Friedman: “No more than one-third of proven reserves of fossil fuels can be consumed prior to 2050.” The president added, “Science is science. There’s no doubt that if we burned all the fossil fuel that’s in the ground right now that the planet’s going to get too hot and the consequences could be dire.” So “we’re not going to be able to burn it all. … but we have to use this time wisely, so that you have a tapering off of fossil fuels replaced by clean energy sources that are not releasing carbon.”
The GOP counterattacked: House Speaker John Boehner called the new EAP regs a “war on coal” that “will kill 224,000 jobs and surge electric bills by $17 billion every year.” The conservative Townhall magazine says “a half a million workers” could lose jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce claimed businesses would lose over $50 billion a year. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell called the regulations “a dagger in the heart of the middle class.” Forbes, and other media echoed Boehner’s numbers. When the noise cleared, newspaper fact-checker PolitiFact.com analyzed Boehner’s statement, ruled it “false.” This war is in our heads.
For years we’ve been using a 12-sector investment strategy based on Jared Diamond’s classic, “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” He analyzed 12 macroeconomic areas that over the centuries resulted in entire civilizations disappearing. Here are those 12 macro sectors. Given the threat as 2020 approaches, these 12 are now war zones in President Obama’s Phase 2 of the accelerating WWIII Global Warming Wars:
1. Global population growth
Optimists and bulls see an abundant world and three billion more consumers by 2050 and others see the United Nation’s estimates as limiting growth. However, population is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment,” says Scientific American. In Diamond’s 12-factor equation, population growth and lifestyles increases are the two main drivers impacting the others. By 2050 global population will explode from 7 billion to 10 billion, with 1.4 billion each in China and India. Yes, experts challenge the numbers. Earth Institute’s Jeffrey Sachs says even five billion is unsustainable.
2. Worldwide consumer lifestyle
Today, all across the world, people have their own version of the American Dream. In effect, we are all capitalists, the rich, middle class and poor all want more. Witness luxury-car sales in China, microloans for entrepreneurs in India. The downside is that even if population levels off, accelerating lifestyle demands are driving all nations to increase resource use to the same rate as America today, 32 times more resources and dumping 32 times more waste.
3. Global water crisis
Buffett says buy what you know. Well, buy water. It’s everywhere, essential for drinking, industry, agriculture, transportation. And threatened. Media calls water the “new gold.” Water generated over a half trillion dollars in revenue worldwide in 2010. As world population accelerates, as more than one billion “lack access to clean drinking water,” it will soon “trade like oil futures.” For many, water is more valuable than fuel. Consider bottled water companies, soft-drinks, purification, desalination. Buy water.
4. World’s food and nutrition
Huge opportunities: “If you want to become rich, become a farmer,” says Jim Rogers in “Hot Commodities.” The World Bank, UN and IMF all estimate a billion of the planet’s seven billion people are poor, undernourished, surviving on two dollars a day. Mostly subsistence farmers. Monsanto and other agriculture giants have a huge stake in the future of farming, fertilizers, pesticides, irrigation, and genetically engineered seeds. Downside: Money manager Jeremy Grantham says the planet can’t feed the three billion more projected. Others focus on commercial opportunities, and they’re hot.
5. Productive agricultural zones
Both billionaire investors and nations see the opportunities: Owning farmlands is a solid bet on the future of developed economies and emerging nations. Critics call the trend “land-grabbing” when rich nations buy the agricultural assets of poorer nations. But rich or poor, new populations demand better lifestyles, needing more food. So today there’s a global rally in ag lands, with 25% returns possible.
6. Worldwide forest lands
The demand for urban land and lumber rides population growth up. China and India are planning 500 new cities. Former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson is advising China. Half the world’s rain forests and natural habitats have been converted into new urban centers. Another quarter will be converted by 2050. Downside: Soils are being eroded by water and wind at “rates between 10 to 40 times the rates of soil formation,” much higher in forests where erosion is “between 500 and 10,000 times” replacement rate, due to the accelerating of mega fires.
7. Global fossil fuels
Even if you’re not a cash-rich nation or superrich billionaire, you can still invest in energy mutual funds at Vanguard, Fidelity and Pimco. They manage hundreds of billions in oil and natural gas equities, bonds and commodity funds. Pimco’s Bill Gross predicts a “significant break” in the world’s “growth pattern,” betting we’re past the “peak oil” tipping point. His New Normal strategy accounts for a decline in consumer shopping as economies grow slower and “corporate profits will be static.” Many investors already own energy stocks and mutual funds.
8. Alternative energy
In his classic, “The Quest,” Daniel Yergin, the world’s leading energy expert, says alternative energies will remain a niche market for decades. Fossil fuels will remain 80% of the total in 2050. The Foreign Policy journal echoes Yergin’s forecast in “The 7 Myths About Alternative Energy.” Biofuels, solar, wind and nuclear may not be the “major ticket,” but still huge with global economies now in excess of $80 trillion annually. And with America spending over a trillion annually on total energy usage, 20% on alternatives may grow even faster as fossil fuel production costs increase.
9. International solar power
New technologies are inviting innovative alternatives, such as fuel cells and batteries. Also promising: When the Mars Rover project shut down, Silicon Valley billionaires privatized the Mars engineering team tasked to build new rockets and robots to explore and mine 10,000 asteroids for energy resources potentially worth trillions. If this sounds like a plot right out of the movie “Avatar,” well, it is.
10. Global toxic chemicals
11. International ozone
Yes, human activities, autos and manufacturing plants produce carbon dioxides and other gases that escape into the atmosphere and destroy the protective ozone or absorb and reduce solar energy. Innovative geo-engineering plans are under development to explore using space rockets to block harmful sun rays, reduce global warming, reverse climate change.
12. Species diversity
In his classic “Collapse,” Diamond warns, “a significant fraction of wild species, populations and genetic diversity has been lost. And at present rates, a large percent of the rest will disappear in a half century.” Diamond also targeted the unpredictable consequences of transferring native species onto foreign lands where they begin “preying on, parasitizing, infecting or outcompeting” native animals and plants that lack evolutionary resistance, infecting native species with new diseases.
We’re falling behind, losing WWIII. The new EPA regs are a small step. Lots more must be done. Soon. Diamond tells us these 12 climate-change war zones are “time bombs with fuses of less than 50 years, if unsolved would do us great harm, because they all interact with each other … we need to solve them all.”
Piecemeal solutions won’t save us from collapse: “The world’s environmental problems will get resolved, in one way or another within the lifetime of the children and young adults alive today…. The only question is whether they will become resolved in pleasant ways of our own choice, or in unpleasant ways not of our choice, such as warfare, genocide, starvation, disease epidemics, and collapses of societies.”
-Paul B. Farrell