Climate Change — World War III by Another Name? By William Bowles

By William Bowles
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Sept 9, 2008

“A shadowy scientific elite codenamed Jason warned the US about global warming 30 years ago but was sidelined for political convenience” — ‘Jason and the secret climate change war’ Times Online

The quote above has it wrong on one major point, the findings of Jason weren’t sidelined for “political convenience” but for the more fundamental reason that catastrophic climate change is basically WWIII on the cheap, a ‘solution’ moreover that lets imperialism off the hook, after all if climate change is unavoidable without dumping capitalism and, as it appears that the populations of the G-7 aren’t prepared (yet) to do this, then what the hell, we’ll survive (well most of us anyway).

I have banged on before[1] about what I believe to be the real reason why the major capitalist powers haven’t bothered to do anything about climate change namely, that catastrophic climate change solves two of the major problems confronting capitalism today. These are:

1. ‘Surplus’ populations and the threat the ‘great unwashed’ presents to capitalism
2. Control of resources: countries decimated by climate change are then ripe for exploitation

The Jason investigation conducted back in the late 1970s paralleled the ones conducted by the Club of Rome conference on ‘over-population’ initiated even earlier in 1974 (Jason’s major objective was in any case, preparing plans for conducting nuclear war against the Soviet Union and China).

“Mandatory programs may be needed and we should be considering these possibilities now,” the document continued, adding, “Would food be considered an instrument of national power? … Is the U.S. prepared to accept food rationing to help people who can’t/won’t control their population growth?” — Henry Kissinger, ‘National Security Study Memorandum 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.’ Dec. 10, 1974.[2]

“…There are only two possible ways in which a world of 10 billion people can be averted. Either the current birth rates must come down more quickly. Or the current death rates must go up… There is no other way… There are, of course, many ways in which the death rates can go up. In a thermonuclear age, war can accomplish it very quickly and decisively. Famine and disease are nature’s ancient checks on population growth, and neither one has disappeared from the scene… To put it simply: Excessive population growth is the greatest single obstacle to the economic and social advancement of most of the societies in the developing world.” — Robert McNamara, Oct. 2, 1979

Well to paraphrase to McNamara, ‘climate change is nature’s way to check population growth’. Meanwhile, under the guise of ‘technofixes’, capitalism just sees ways of making money out of climate change.

What else explains the sheer indifference to the dangers we confront except the above scenario (see the latest Media Lens piece, ‘Media Lens: Hawking The Technofix — Business As Usual And The Ultimate Genocide’).

Of course, it all hinges on whether or not the rich 10% will survive but just like preparing for nuclear armaggedon, it’s a calculated risk and given the vast resources available to the rich minority, the odds are, short of some kind of really catastrophic meltdown, then aside from some minor ‘inconveniences’ aka WWII, then aprés la deluge, they’ll still around to pick up the pieces and carry on with business as usual, minus of course, all those billions of surplus to requirement, (poor) people.

I kid you not, modern industrial production no longer requires vast armies of industrial workers, sufficient numbers will survive to restart production in a world swept clean as it were and in fifty years or so, the world will have regained some kind of equilibrium, well that’s the theory. And in any case, with global populations vastly reduced, there will no need for the same volume of production.

And this is no mere speculation, the history of capitalism is littered with examples where holocausts of one kind or another have been conducted, that in the short term have hindered the profit-making, for example the extermination of native peoples around the planet who ‘got in the way’ but ultimately made the way for the use of slaves imported from Africa, for example in the Americas and the Caribbean.

Of course, it can be argued that the ruling elites are so blinkered and/or mesmerized by the power of technology to produce a solution that they really do believe that somewhere, there is a ‘fix’ but for thirty years? So for example, ‘carbon capture storage’ (CCS), much touted by the corporate media as the solution, brought this response,

“In 2007, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dismissed geo-engineering as “largely speculative and unproven and with the risk of unknown side-effects.” (David Adam, ‘Extreme and risky action the only way to tackle global warming, say scientists’, The Guardian, September 1, 2008) (ibid)

And in the same Media Lens piece quoted above we read,

“Corporate media coverage has shamefully buried the truth that CCS would be exploited to enhance oil recovery: pumping carbon dioxide into ageing oil reservoirs has the effect of forcing out oil that would otherwise stay underground. CCS and other technical “solutions” to impending climate chaos are thus being used to prop up the fossil fuel industry which remains committed to massive exploration and exploitation efforts for decades to come. David Hone, climate change adviser for Shell, concedes that fossil fuels will remain Shell’s core business “for some time.” (Terry Slavin, ‘Promise of a green industrial revolution’, The Guardian, July 16, 2008)

In other words, business as usual. The bottom line is the preservation of capitalism regardless of the cost or the consequences and if it takes the extermination of a few billion (versus ‘only’ 70 million in WWII) then so be it.


1. ‘Empire Redux – Climate Catastrophe and Capitalism’ and, ‘Capitalism first – climate last’ and, ‘Some after thoughts on Hurricane Bush and a possible ‘end of days’ scenario

2. In particular, see Henry Kissinger’s 1974 Plan for Food Control Genocide. See also Food and the US Arsenal By RON JACOBS, Counterpunch, September 9 / 11, 2005 and ‘Food as a weapon: Bucharest, Rome and the politics of starvation’. All that’s changed are the weapons.