The Vortex of Violence and why we are losing the war on climate change,
by Kevin Lister
now available at Amazon and Kobo book stores
As the world moves towards the abyss of climate change and the evidence of catastrophe solidifies by the day, international agreements and government actions continue to fall far short of what is needed. The empirical evidence unambiguously tells us we have little more than 10 years to make the most profound and difficult changes to our society that will surpass anything from our past. Instead, humankind wraps its arms around the climate change disaster in a suicidal embrace.
The Vortex of Violence strips away the wishful thinking on climate change that has hindered the dialogue that is needed to explore the structural failures that are halting progress. It argues that talk about ambition to tackle climate change is irrelevant; the only thing that really counts is having security to move to a zero carbon economy and the biggest security threat of all is nuclear weapons.
Like the failures on climate change, nuclear non-proliferation talks have also failed with the same regularity. Despite the climate change crisis facing us, the world’s nuclear weapons states are collectively embarking on one of biggest upgrades of nuclear weapons systems ever. For this, they need expanding industrial economies to raise the taxes as well as maintaining huge high carbon military industrial complexes in permanently operational states. This is the antithesis of what is needed to tackle climate change. It drives the most fundamental illogicality of all – building weapons of mass destruction that will outlast the societies that they are supposed to protect by their guarantee of mutual destruction.
The Vortex of Violence makes the provocative, but unavoidable, argument that to achieve the scale of change that we must face when the planet is being made more unstable by the day due to the effects of climate change, resource shortages and the uncontrollable impacts of technology, then nuclear weapons and climate change talks must be integrated. If we do not do this, our chance of survival is less than selecting a single atom at random from all the atoms that make the planet.
It leads to far reaching and uncomfortable conclusions about the entire political systems that have evolved to govern us and which drive the problems we collectively face.
Chapter 1 No Hope, False hope and some hope, the three witches of the apocalypse
Despite much talk that climate change means the existing business and economic system cannot be maintained, governments will do all in their power to maintain business as usual and use whatever mendacious means as necessary. The debate that is needed is obscured by the false hope being offered by governments, corporations and environmentalists.
Chapter 2 Dreams and realities
Atmospheric CO2 is building up super-exponentially. In about 10 years it will be above 450 ppm, at which point runaway climate change will be impossible to avoid. Our highly connected infrastructure is based around dangerous chemical and nuclear plants putting the planet’s risk exposure far in excess of anything it has experienced in the past. It also means that when we hit 450 ppm, we will surge through this critical limit rather than asymptotically approaching it.
Chapter 3 Why climate change agreements are not working
The objective of international agreements on climate change is to limit CO2 emissions without any consideration of how this impacts the competitive environment that nations must survive within. Thus the essence of climate change agreements is not to reduce CO2 emissions, but to maintain business as usual to the very end.
There are three questions that nuclear weapon states should be forced to answer, (1) Will climate change make nuclear disarmament more difficult? (2) As economies collapse from climate change will nuclear weapon states be able to maintain their weapons systems safe from attack and accident? (3) On the assumption that nuclear weapons are not used, will they become an eternal liability for the survivors struggling to make ends meet in the new hostile and dystopian environment that climate change will bring? No nation should progress nuclear weapons development until there has been public discussion and agreement on these questions.
Our understanding of democracy is that we should have freedom and be allowed to develop economically, but tackling climate change requires all of society to operate within strict limits imposed by a falling ecological ceiling. Nobody has any real option to vote for a party that will make sustaining civilisation its priority and determining how we should operate within fixed limits, instead all political parties merely offer different choices for preserving industrial growth. As a result, our ideals of human democracy have been replaced with the reality of an industrialised democracy.
Chapter 6 Segmented problems or homogenous solutions
We are conditioned from early childhood to be able to compartmentalise our thinking, and this forms the basis of the education systems in the industrial economies. It has the unintended consequence of encouraging us to find solutions to the three critical problems of today, climate change, nuclear disarmament and economic reform separately. If we continue to do this, the chance of success in any one is about 9E-63, about the same as selecting a single atom from all the atoms that make the planet.
The nation state is essentially a war making entity, yet nation-state wars against the people of other nation-states belong to the past as a result of highly interconnected economies and the terror of nuclear conflict. Instead we have intractable wars amongst the people virtually everywhere and these are differentiated only by the level of violence. These challenge the concept and viability of the nation-state, and the combatants of these wars fall into either pro-growth or anti-growth market states. Today the nation state is subservient to the pro-growth market states.
Chapter 8 What next?
Strategic choices are never easy to take. We must firstly integrate climate change, nuclear disarmament and financial reform. We must put nuclear weapons on the climate change negotiating table and this forces the entire global political system to change. Key institutions such as the UN P-5 which preserve industrial and military power to an elite group need to be replaced and a modern day alternative to the failed 1946 Baurch Agreement must be strived for. These initiatives will not guarantee success in the fight against climate change, but failure to do these will guarantee failure.