21/01/2020 |

Climate change and militarism

An article by Pere Ortega, president of Centre Delàs of Peace Studies and GCOMS consultant

This article was originally published in his opinion blog ‘Crónicas Insumisas’ in Público

As long as capitalism prevails as an economic system, climate change is irreversible and the planetary breakdown irremediable.

For some, this might seem as an exaggeration, as capitalists could still react and amend their excessive greed and reduce the capital gains that they obtain up to an acceptable degree which does not cause the deterioration of nature.

Is it possible? In my opinion, is not! Because, even though some reasonable capitalists might do it, there is for sure others who won’t, even less in a world where clashing interests can go as far as to confront in economic wars and, when those are not enough, with armies. Thus, even though some obey to the national interests and their governments, others, as it happens with globalization, have interests at a planetary level and they devote themselves to mercantalize anything that can be extracted from nature, earth, oceans and people. Wherewith, collapse becomes inevitable, since the craving for profit is intrinsic to their nature.

Carbon emissions into the atmosphere have accelerated ever since the advent of capitalism-implanted lifestyle, in which carefree consumption prevails. In order to do so, it’s necessary to continuously plunder non-renewable resources, which in their exploitation and manufacturing process emit gases that cause global warming and greenhouse effect. This is accompanied by a constant flow of people who move from one place to another with no other aim than to wander through continents, consuming energies which are, as well, non-renewable. Also joined by intensive farming and agriculture which use fertilizers and chemical products very aggressive to the environment, a water and soil’s highly polluting extractive mining and by intensive fishing, which depletes the oceans.

All of these will produce the shrinkage or disappearance of glaciers and poles, the increase of sea levels, desertification of multiple territories, the retreat of fertile lands, drinking water shortages and climate-induced disruptions with devastating natural catastrophes. A multiplicity of situations which will produce massive migrations, severe conflicts, some of which leading to war.

Which is the answer that capitalism and states are giving? What some people have called ecofascism. A combination of authoritarianism and repression so as to preserve the welfare standard sufficient for their populations, although with different levels among elites and popular classes.

This is the situation we are in. To deal with the consequences of this approaching catastrophe, the enriched states are getting prepared by fortifying of their borders, as they anticipate the arrival by millions of the empoverished. That’s at least what their security strategies indicate. So how do they act?

Let’s look at Europe. The European Union maintains military missions patrolling the Mediterranean for the “alleged” fight against jihadism, as the Sea Guardian, with frigates, submarines, patrol boats and airplanes when they are in fact controlling migrations.
On the other hand, EU has FRONTEX, the border control agency with a budget which amounted to 288 million euros in 2018 and provided with military equipment to reject the arrival of migrants. An agency that since 2010 has carried out up 400 flights for the deportation of migrants. In addition, it pays the governments of Turkey, Libya and Morocco to prevent the passage of people towards Europe.

Spain, meanwhile, maintains Operation Sophia with a frigate and 259 soldiers against human trafficking, refugee control and the rescue of migrants trying to cross from the African coast. Spanish Civil Guard in the Mediterranean collaborates in four migrant control operations:  Hera, Indalo, Tritón and Poseidón.

Refugees and war

According to UNHCR refugee data, in 2017 there were 68.4 million displaced people and refugees, 3.5 more than in 2016. In 2018, they were 70.2 million, 2.3 million more than in 2017. Of all the refugees, one in two were children. 85% came from impoverished countries and 58% of those refugees/displaced people come from countries at war.

There are wars which cause millions of refugees: from Syria, 6.3; Afghanistan 2.6 million; South Sudan 2.4 million; Somalia, 900,000; Sudan (North), 700,000; R.D. Congo, 600,000; Central African Republic, 500,000; Eritrea, 500,000; Burundi, 400,000. Not forgetting the 5.5 million refugees product of the Israeli war in Palestine.

And, who are the ones who fuel these wars through military aid and arms sales? The main arms exporters in 2018, which sold 95,000 million dollars, were: United States, 33%; EU, as a whole 25%; Russia, 23%; China, 6.2%; and Spain obtained the dishonorable seventh place worldwide.

EU exported weapons to the Middle East amounting to € 20,302 million from 2005 to 2014 and to North Africa worth € 4,464 million.

How many weapons were sold by Spain? To the Middle East, in 2017, 754 million; and between 2008 and 2017, including Turkey, €4,830 million, between 15% and 24% depending on the years of total exports to countries as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Iraq, Egypt, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain …

If the level of development of the enriched countries is causing climate change and therefore migrations, including refugees escaping from wars this model produces, capitalism is hence the cause of the apocalypse to come. My conclusion: Socialism or barbarism!