Archive for October 14th, 2014

by lizard

My second to last article from the Missoulian I can access on my phone this month without paying to subscribe is a really interesting article about a UM professor deemed a “super forecaster” by the CIA:

Karen Ruth Adams stood before a Model United Nations class at the University of Montana on Tuesday, preparing students for careers in public policy, international affairs and high school teaching.

While far away from Washington, D.C., this academic environment is fitting for Adams, a professor of political science and scholar who has earned a reputation for predicting world events before they happen.

Given her skills, the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity and its Good Judgment Project recognized Adams as a “super forecaster.” It’s a lighthearted term with serious implications, capable of changing how the U.S. intelligence community tracks crises around the world.

“The project is a think tank that’s affiliated with the Central Intelligence Agency,” Adams said Tuesday before class. “IARPA is a think tank known for doing innovative research that gets weeded out through competition and analysis, and different agencies of the U.S. government can pick it up if they’re interested.”

This seems like a more passive version of the Human Terrain System—an attempt to use social sciences to improve the poorly-defined military campaign in Afghanistan. From Wiki:

The Human Terrain System (HTS) is a United States Army, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) support program employing personnel from the social science disciplines – such as anthropology, sociology, political science, regional studies and linguistics – to provide military commanders and staff with an understanding of the local population (i.e. the “human terrain”) in the regions in which they are deployed.

I wonder what Karen Ruth Adams thinks about the “threat multiplier” of climate change. We already know what the Pentagon thinks. Here is an article from Fox news for the conservative regulars here:

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Monday described climate change as a national security threat — at a time when the U.S. military is battling the Islamic State in the Mideast, responding to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, and monitoring tensions between Ukraine and Russia.

The Defense secretary addressed the issue during a speech in Peru, as the Pentagon released a comprehensive report on the “national security” challenges posed by rising global temperatures and “extreme weather events.”

Hagel described climate change as a “threat multiplier,” saying it “has the potential to exacerbate many of the challenges we already confront today — from infectious disease to armed insurgencies — and to produce new challenges in the future.”

It’s hard to tell if this actually Chuck Hagel’s views being represented in this article. It’s entirely possible Al Gore kidnapped Chuck Hagel, then used CGI technology to sucker even Fox News into reporting on climate change like it’s a real thing.

Climate change actually is a totally real thing guaranteed to significantly exacerbate global conflicts. The Pentagon knows this, and is preparing accordingly.

Naomi Klein also knows this and she was even nice enough to write a book about how this changes everything:

If global warming is a worldwide wake-up call, we’re all pretty heavy sleepers. It’s telling that 20 years after the United Nations acknowledged the threat of human-driven climate change, we’re still basically at a loss for how to get going on the solution. In fact, we’re spewing more greenhouse gases than ever. Why is that? Ask 10 people — 10 self-identified environmentalists, even — and you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

The real reason, argues journalist Naomi Klein in her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate,” is the one thing that the political right has right: Transitioning quickly to a low-carbon society is going to hurt. Contrary to the mission statements of win-win industry partnerships championed by some green groups, Klein writes, wrangling greenhouse gas emissions to within a scientifically recommended level will not be painless. The issue unearths no less than “a much broader battle of worldviews,” she says — “a process of rebuilding and reinventing the very idea of the collective, the communal, the commons, the civil, and the civic after so many decades of attack and neglect.”

In other words, the root of the carbon problem is capitalism, says Klein. Or at least the kind of unfettered, absolutist “disaster capitalism” that was the target of her previous effort, “The Shock Doctrine.” In that sense, the aptly titled “This Changes Everything” might be seen as the third volume in Klein’s controversial and thoroughly researched challenge to neoliberal ideology.

The essence of her argument is that taking on climate change is a fleeting opportunity to right structural wrongs in political and socioeconomic systems that have stood largely unchallenged for decades. Given the problem’s size, Klein says, the only way forward is radical change. So the political right’s willingness to sow doubt about long-settled science and denounce climate moderates as nefarious communists belies not a willful ignorance so much as a recognition of the issue’s real scope.

Klein, as usual, hits the mark.

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