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world wide wednesdays :: the larger terrorist agenda

long-term damage after an attack in syria
sure, we hear a lot of politicians talking about isis and their apocalyptic plans to destroy all who don't believe in their incredibly narrow interpretation of the qu'ran. but what if i told you that isis is only a tiny group of people, one that could be contained with relative ease through international cooperation? and what if politicians are just trying to make you focus on isis because it is a pretty easy problem to solve and one that makes most leaders look better because what leader wouldn't disown a group like isis? what if it's like ebola, where there's a danger, but it's comparatively small, and there's actually a way bigger monster planning to unleash terror on every country in the world and that has already produced casualties in a single attack that isis can't match in a year? i'm talking about climate change, people, and it is the greatest terrorist threat the world is currently facing. make no mistake: climate change wants to kill you, your family and everything you know and it is coming for all of us.

climate change's political aims are a little unclear: it seems to support unfettered enterprise and resists any form of government regulation to do with the environment. it does not seem to be affiliated with any religious movement, but has clear elements of an apocalyptic cult: it is dedicated to bringing about the end of the world as we know it, to destroying human civilization and causing the death of millions. the organization is unclear about the ultimate end, the post-destruction world and the life it promises its supporters, but this does not seem to have hampered its ability to attract devotees. its principal promise is that supporters can continue to live a life of relative comfort, or to accede to such a life with relative ease and comparatively low expense. however, the real tool of climate change is not the carrot, but the stick: acolytes are threatened with the economic collapse on a grand and personal scale and are told that they will suffer privations at the hands of 'infidels'. thus is climate change able to radicalize its supporters through fear.

aftermath of an attack in nepal
there are numerous terrorist activities associated with climate change:

  • the five year drought in syria, which resulted in mass displacements and social unrest and triggered a civil war. that war has resulted in even more displacements, to lands even farther away and severely compromises syria's ability to recover from its current political upheaval. 
  • the accelerated melting of glaciers in nepal, which has compromised the practice of subsistence farming. although long one of the poorest countries of the world, nepal has avoided the worst aspects of poverty because many people have been able to provide for at least their food needs. however, the quick shifts in glacial melting have meant that some areas have suffered droughts while others have been endangered by breakthrough floods. the inability of either rural farmers or the national government to respond in a timely fashion to these changes, as well as to the inefficient and racially charged emergency efforts in the wake of natural disasters have created a high level of political instability, which further limits the possibility of progress [something which would require a high level of foreign engagement, since nepal's contribution to climate change is miniscule.]
  • displacement of traditionally rural populations to urban centres, especially in africa and asia [e.g. indonesia], creates further challenges that will also require quick reactions. as subsistence farming becomes more difficult in the developing world, and primary resources continue to be exported or used in export-focused industries, unprecedented numbers of people are moving to urban areas in order to meet their immediate economic needs. while this presents the opportunity for cities to become models of efficiency and to reverse the trend toward increasing privation in the developing world, it also creates threats of higher crime rates tied to urban poverty, as well as social unrest. 
  • environmental disasters caused by or exacerbated by climate change create fertile ground for smaller terrorist organizations like isis. the rapid descent into economic disaster caused by events like the aforementioned flood in syria makes huge swathes of the population vulnerable, including many who have never felt threatened. the habit of governments to delay remedies in the interests of placating international finance makes those governments an easy target for groups seeking more immediate political change. as such, isis can be seen as a sort of proxy for the larger organization of climate change, serving as a catalyst to climate change's apocalyptic agenda. likewise, the pervasive and continuing drought conditions in much of the united states opens the door to inflammatory and xenophobic rhetoric, such as the claim that illegal immigrants are creating a disproportionate drain on public resources [such as welfare], or that they are appropriating jobs from legal citizens. this rhetoric may not have the immediately violent effect that it has in syria, but it does serve to divert debate and money from tackling climate change, essentially amounting to time and money wasted.

map of global terrorist 'hot spots'
unlike many terrorist organizations, such as al-qaeda and isis, or [earlier on] the ira, whose roots are linked to disastrous environmental policy [which should be seen as the precursor to the current group] climate change prefers to avoid claims of responsibility for its actions. while this limits its notoriety, it also shields it from the sort of political rhetoric and aggressive government action directed towards smaller terrorist groups like its proxy, isis. it effectively 'hides in plain sight' by remaining largely silent and preying on the resulting ignorance of its influence on world events, disguising its most egregious attacks as 'natural'. 

the neoliberal tendency to indulge even the most fanatical supporters of climate change rather than risk offending them has effectively handcuffed many governments and greatly restricted progress against the [pardon the pun] rising tide of climate change terrorism. the inability of governments to stand up to such villains shows undeniable weakness in the face of such an overwhelming threat.  

furthermore, one must wonder why corporations have been so reticent to condemn climate change and its actions. unlike muslims worldwide, who have overwhelmingly rejected isis as both dangerous and heretical, corporations have mostly remained silent, or have adopted an ambivalent stance. even those corporations that have paid lip service to supporting sustainability and improved environmental policies have made only minor changes and have avoided allocating real resources or making significant changes to address the threat. in an age where terrorism has become transnational, the solution cannot be entrusted to governments alone. corporate capital is clearly where the problem begins and it is incumbent on their leaders not only to speak out, but to take action against our mutual enemy. 

so when a politician comes calling for your vote, make sure to ask them the important question: can you keep this country and its people safe from the threat of terrorism? can you keep us safe from climate change? 

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