Who is the Enemy? – The Quadrennial Defense Review 2014

The Department of Defense has concluded that climate change is the greatest threat to America.

“Climate change poses another significant challenge for the United States and the world at large. As greenhouse gas emissions increase, sea levels are rising, average global temperatures are increasing, and severe weather patterns are accelerating. These changes, coupled with other global dynamics, including growing, urbanizing, more affluent populations, and substantial economic growth in India, China, Brazil, and other nations, will devastate homes, land, and infrastructure. Climate change may exacerbate water scarcity and lead to sharp increases in food costs. The pressures caused by climate change will influence resource competition while placing additional burdens on economies, societies, and governance institutions around the world.

These effects are threat multipliers that will aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions – conditions that can enable terrorist activity and other forms of violence.

“The Department will employ creative ways to address the impact of climate change, which will continue to affect the operating environment and the roles and missions that U.S. Armed Forces undertake. The Department will remain ready to operate in a changing environment amid the challenges of climate change and environmental damage. We have increased our preparedness for the consequences of environmental damage and continue to seek to mitigate these risks while taking advantage of opportunities. The Department’s operational readiness hinges on unimpeded access to land, air, and sea training and test space.

Consequently, we will complete a comprehensive assessment of all installations to assess the potential impacts of climate change on our missions and operational resiliency, and develop and implement plans to adapt as required. 

Climate change also creates both a need and an opportunity for nations to work together, which the Department will seize through a range of initiatives. We are developing new policies, strategies, and plans, including the Department’s Arctic Strategy and our work in building humanitarian assistance and disaster response capabilities, both within the Department and with our allies and partners.” 

The DoD has concluded that climate change represents the greatest threat to America. Then, who are our enemies and how do we fight them?

Terrorists are not the prime enemy. They seek to destroy the modern industrial infrastructure that is polluting the planet.

Religious fundamentalists are not the prime enemy. They seek to return to a pre-industrial age, with few modern, energy-demanding conveniences. 

China is not the enemy. It seeks to expand its economy and pollutes as much as we do or more, but  it is intent on creating modern technology to reduce carbon emissions. Russia is not the enemy, except in that its economy is based on selling fossil fuel…

Then, who is the enemy?  It is those individuals and agencies who are polluting for profit, while using those profits to fund a disinformation propaganda campaign to deny climate change. It is the Koch brothers and the oil and gas companies and their executives and stockholders. We have met the enemy and they are us.

How do we fight the enemy? We must expose the enemy and charge them for the damage they have done and are doing. We must name them and shame them. We must expose their methods. We must take their names off buildings and think tanks and put it on the grave markers of those who have suffered and died from pollution, and on memorials for those hundreds of millions who will die in the future from the effects of climate change.

How to we fight the enemy…with what weapons? Building more fighter planes, bombers, tanks and aircraft carriers is not the way to fight them. Each of these machines uses petroleum or nuclear energy. The infrastructure to build these machines uses more energy. Spending our capital and our attention on prevention of non-critical threats wastes both energy and time. We must spend what we would on armed defense on defending the planet, as a whole, not just the United States, because that cannot be done. The climate does not stop or change at the border. We must fund the Department of Climate Defense, and spend the money on building solar panels, not drones; windmills, not tanks, space solar power, not aircraft carriers. We must organize a Conservation Corps to plant trees to soak up carbon;  we must use our special forces to spread renewable energy technology around the world.

We realize that our security depends on the security of all nations, that is why we have troops deployed all over the world, seeking our enemies, supporting our friends… We must now take that perspective and understand that this fight is for the whole world, and we can lead it with a new Coalition of the Willing; willing not to fight those that will have no impact on the future, but those who will. We must create a common world defense, and a new expeditionary force, to lead us to the next frontier, where there is energy, living room, natural resources, and the future of mankind… the frontier to space.

Will Hillary Give The Moon Away?

Or Reassert US International Leadership in Space.
Dave Dunlop

The Congressional elections upcoming in November (are) gaining momentum, but for Americans, horror of horrors, the 2016 Presidential Campaign will also begin its deafening two year acceleration. Is there anyone who doesn’t think that Hillary Clinton, barring only illness, or injury or death, will not seek and win the Democratic nomination for the 2016 Campaign? If the US economy continues on its slow pace of improvement, and to look at the strength of the stock market and NASDQ there might even be a more optimistic economic climate during 2015 and 2016. So the prospects for a Democratic candidate might be supported by a stronger economic picture and the economic mandate of heaven may fall on the first woman President.

While my Republican friends cannot identify any comparable candidate for 2016 I will provocatively take advantage of this Presidential Candidate Gap between the Democrats and Republicans to speculate on what Hillary Clinton might do in space policy as a Presidential candidate and if she were elected as President. I would remind those skeptical of this speculation, that Hillary Clinton distinguished herself from the field of competing /democratic candidates in the 2008 Presidential primary election campaign by giving a speech devote to space. She selected the talented space strategy advisor Lori Garver, who later was appointed NASA Deputy Administrator by Obama and who championed the successful Commercial Crew and Cargo programs in spite of the opposition of the SLS supporters in Congress. None of the other candidates campaigned on space. Perhaps they were thinking that space has a niche constituency in districts where there were NASA centers or large NASA contractors and that space did not present much of a wedge issue for the general electorate which was much more concerned about their jobs and the cooling state of the economy.

So will the past be prologue to the 2016 campaign of Hillary Clinton? I think so.

I First, Hillary as a candidate must distinguish herself from her predecessor whose popularity has fallen. She must find acceptable ways to repudiate unpopular Obama policies and more importantly provide some fresh ideas and a sense of optimism about why she is running and what she will do if elected.

Space as a national issue presents some opportunities and threats as a wedge issue in this campaign.
Some momentous things are happening. NASA has been torn between the Congressional constituency backing the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion capsule program backed by powerful Republican Senators and the Obama administration’s focus on contracted capabilities and technology innovation.

II The Gift of Commercial Cargo and Commercial Crew
The Obama administration has scored a major success with its Commercial Cargo program to the International Space Station which has successfully provided two contractors (Space -X and Orbital Sciences with successful missions to the ISS by their Dragon and Cygnus cargo vehicles respectively).
The Obama administration has also fought for the commercial crew program with contracts to Space -X for the manned Dragon capsule, to Boeing for the CST-100 capsule, and to Sierra Nevada for the Dream Chaser “mini-shuttle.” The Dragon capsule and the Boeing CST-100 are likely to fly in 2017 just as a new President takes office, presenting another prospect for national pride in a NASA public private collaboration. These commercial programs will also end the huge subsidies being paid to the Russians for the delivery of American astronauts to the ISS. Hillary can argue that this program should create more American Space jobs and help to revitalize the American Space Industry. Hillary can also campaign on ending the Russian subsidy by making a commitment to all three American commercial crew contractors. Space -X, Boeing, and Sierra Nevada.

III The Times They Are A Chan gin’
There are however dark clouds gathering for the NASA kingdom especially when it comes to manned spaceflight and heavy lift launches, an area in which it has had a monopoly position since the 1960’s.

1 The Space-X company is about to demonstrate its ability to provide a reusable Falcon 9 launch system and dramatically lower the cost of launching things into space.

2 Early in 2014 Space-X is also expected to launch the Falcon 9 Heavy. Space X- is also expected to launch another Falcon 9 Heavy for the Air Force in 2015. This is two years ahead of the SLS unmanned launch in 2017 and seven years before a manned launch in 2022 with an Orion capsule is anticipated.

3 These developments will create the conditions for the cancellation of the SLS Heavy lift launcher. A Falcon 9 Heavy system launch will cost less than 1/6th the cost of a $2Billion SLS system launch.
This is a huge wedge issue for the Republican Red States of Alabama, Texas, and Florida where the SLS and Orion have the most impact. If the Republicans pursue a relentless program of cutting the Federal across the board they set themselves up to see Obama or an incoming President Hillary Clinton reward them with a cancellation of this unsustainable budgetary boondoggle launch system.
By perpetuating a boondoggle porkbarrel program they have set up their NASA center constituents for extinction.

4 President Hillary Clinton can counter this reduction in NASA’s in-house SLS program with contracts for lower cost space missions in Florida at KSC, in Texas, from a newly developing spaceport in Texas that Space-X is developing near Brownsville, as well as the Mid-Atlantic range on Wallops Island, and Vandenberg. Spaceport American in New Mexico will also be another bright spot for the American Space Industry with Virgin Galactic expected to begin commercial service by the end of 2014
and the potential for subsequent Stratolaunch operations.

IV Extend the ISS to 2028
There is another card that President Hillary can play in response to an SLS cancellation and to differentiate herself from President’s space policy. She can build on her experience as Secretary of State and reassert strong Presidential international leadership in space by building on the foundation of the ISS partnership by announcing her support for the extension of the ISS program until 2028 during her campaign. This will please our international partners who have been shocked at the prospect that NASA announced that it would deorbit the ISS in 2016, and who fought vociferously for its extension to 2020. Russia even announced that it would maintain its components independent of NASAs exit to the ocean. This extension is a policy already being negotiated at present by the ISS partners. Reusable Falcon 9 missions will greatly reduce the expense of maintaining this ISS program for the US and regain the confidence of our ISS partners in this stable space program commitment. This also keeps much of the NASA HEOMD, the biggest share of NASA’s budget moving forward with operations at JSC, Marshall, and KSC.

V The Next Big Thing: E-M L2 Gateway to Mars and Beyond
Hillary can also build on this announcement with another riposte to the Republicans. She can also announce that the US will use its reusable space launch heavy lift capacity to build an international Gateway Station at the Earth-Moon Lagrange Point 2 and invite our ISS partners to build the highway to return to the Moon and advance to Mars and the asteroids. The US would then joining the existing international consensus of its ISS partners that the Moon is the next destination and stepping stone on the way to Mars. This would also be a program of shared expenses and support building on the success of the International Space Station but also expanding the partnership to include new partners such as India, Korea, Brazil, Mexico, Ukraine that share both the risks, expenses, and rewards. This would increase American Space jobs by increasing the flight rate at American Spaceports, maintain existing contractors, and develop new contractors such as Bigelow which can reduce the cost of a new space station while doubling its size with inflatable modules.

VI To Mars via a CisLunar Highway
There is within NASA a strong anti-lunar program bias that has resulted in an Asteroids and Mars First national space policy that has created strong rifts with our international ISS partners. NASA HQ has preferred to sacrifice the Moon and our position of international leadership for a Mars Program that has had triumphant landings but been shortsighted in starving the development of our space infrastructure for the future. Hillary is going to have to break some eggs to redo the NASA omelet and what NASA’s republican critics and others such as the Space Foundation have criticized as a drift in policy. It is time to replace much of the geriatric leadership at the top of NASA and get some fresh blood with renewed vision in place. Another critical new piece of this strategy is the development of
space refueling depots that reduce costs for reusable in-space tugs and terries from LEO to GEO and E-M Lagrange point and eventually to Mars.

VII Building Momentum for Clean Energy from Space
Hillary can also address the issue of global climate change and the requirements for clean and sustainable energy by creating an international initiative to develop space solar power satellites as the former President of India Dr. Abdul Kalam has advocated in partnership with the National Space Society. Both China, India, and Japan are interested in the prospects of space solar power and the Chinese have recently devoted more resources to this area. Bold US leadership can create an expansion of the commercial satellite industry from a $200B plus industry to a Multi-Trillion dollar industry over the next several decades that can provide clean energy to the entire world, stop fossil fueled climate change, provide enough energy for continued global economic growth, continue the global rise in living standards, eliminate the scarcity of fresh water supplies, and provide the economic resources to reduce environmental destruction and the human environmental footprint.

VIII Restore the Vigor of the Space Exploration Program and Science Mission Directorate
The NASA Science Mission Directorate has suffered a slow down in the tempo of it new missions, eliminated new lunar initiatives, and struggled to maintain its position as the crown jewel in the scientific achievements of the United States. With much reduced launch costs this situation can be reversed.

NASA can also increase its use of smaller cube satellite secondary launch missions to permit a new generation of young scientists to initiate a new wave of solar system explanation. New solar electric and ion propulsion technologies will continue to lower costs because many of these missions will have lower mass, lower volume, lower power, and lower temperature capabilities than the older Billion dollar “Christmas tree” deep space missions. The New Space Technology Mission Directorate will provide the technological innovations to bring a this new generation of spacecraft and explorers into action also with advanced laser optical communications. A “GPS” system for cisluanr space is another major international initiative that will provide the US with another position of strong leadership.
A renewed focus on international collaboration with Earth Observations and Environmental Protection systems is another area where the next President can strengthen US leadership and restore its championship of the environmental movement with its earth science initiatives and funding again benefitting from smaller and less expensive spacecraft systems.

This is another area where international collaborations will also make a renewed wave of exploration more affordable and collaborative. Many nations that previously could not afford to participate will now be able have a seat at the table and to collaborate with the US Universities and young scientists. The NASA Lunar Science Institute with its several international partnerships can be a leading edge in this program that builds global partners and a new generation of young space scientists from around the world. With ts new name Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute can be the tip of spear in this regard in partnership.
The NASA Space Grant network in all the states of the Union can be used to distribute these mission opportunities and resources with a reinvigorated NASA Space Grant Program that benefits from the competitive awards to the entrepreneurial style of small university based teams. GLXP teams from Carnegie Mellon (Astrobotic) and Penn State (Penn State Lunar lions) are good examples of this model.These teams can also be well aligned with the STMD SBIR and TTR programs for commercialization of new technologies and applications.

IX Space Tourism
The next President will see an expansion of the commercial manned suborbital launch industry. Virgin Galactic is most likely to be the first such commercial service starting in late 2014 or early 2015 if the FAA certification process proceeds apace. Stratolaunch, Blue Origin, and X-Cor are also pushing to join Virgin Galactic in the space tourism industry. The next administration should provide a climate to insure that the place the global public can get into space is in the United States.

X Space Debris and Salvage
Hillary Clinton can also shape the future of the global space industry by providing a strong
international initiative on the limitation of space debris and the initiation of a new international program to salvage dead satellites and reuse their metals as the low hanging fruit of demonstrating the use of in situ resources. Other technical means such as use of in-space and or ground lasers to deorbit
space debris should be negotiated with transparent protocols and technology so that the problems of “dual use” do not prevent tackling and solving this impediment to the safety and security of space operations and facilities.

I have outlined the opportunities for Hillary Clinton as a candidate and as a successor to President Obama in US Space Policy. The same program could be adapted by Republican candidates to their own political advantage. If Hillary does not take an activist position on space then the Republicans could use these as wedge issues in their own campaigns.

Thus far the Republicans have weakened their appeal with conventional pork barrel programs such as the SLS (the genetic successor to the Constellation Ares V Program ) which is financially unsustainable at $ 2 Billion a pop, as the last Augustine Commission clearly reported in 2009.
They have weakened the NASA budget for commercial crew programs which has delayed the advent of US Companies in providing manned access to the ISS by 2015 to 2017 at the earliest. This delay has continued to subsidize the Russians as a result and to the tune of $400Million annually. Those making mindless budget cuts have practiced a false economy which is destructive of both our short and long term national interests and international space leadership position.
In the 2012 Republican primary race Mitt Romney laughed at the space advocacy of Newt Gingrich, a long time supporter of the US Space Program. Mitt no doubt is not laughing now.

The Republicans under both Bush Presidents did support a return to the Moon and should do so now using all the cost effective new tools at our disposals and with our strong ISS partners and invitations to new partners such as Indian, Korea, Brazil, and Mexico. Their support of the NASA manned space monopoly is inconsistent with the Republican advertised philosophy of private enterprise and entrepreneurial initiatives and running against the strong tide of well known private entrepreneurs Elon Mush, George Allen, Jeff Bezos, Sergei Brin, among others. It is unclear why the Republicans have not identified these investors as “the smart money” in contrast with the over time and over budget government NASA managed systems which they supposedly decry.

Obama’s upside down priorities for asteroid missions and Mars First missions have damaged our credibility with our closest partners and made them question our judgement and our leadership. This has provided the Chinese with a position from which they can establish their own international leadership by building their own international space station by even as we have discussed dumping the ISS in the Ocean about the same time they finish their first modest station in 2020. The symbolism of one power on the way up and the other on the way down could not be clearer. The substance of US space policy could be one further extending US comprehensive space leadership with the new Presidential leadership space policies that are described above.

President Lyndon Johnson said, ”To be first in Space is to be First.” It was true then and it is more true now. The protection of the Earth, the provision of clean energy and the development of space energy resources offer the world a reprieve from mutual assured environmental destruction from the unbridled growth of the use of fossil fuels and limited terrestrial resources. The logic of wars based on zero-sum games for energy and other material resources can be eliminated by peaceful and collaborative expansion of the Earth- Moon economy and the use of the resources of the inner solar system asteroids. The US public is fed-up with a program of deficits, economic decline, lost employment and indebtedness. It will respond positively to a program of growth that rejects a prospective economic defeat from a race to the bottom international competition with cheap labor working under conditions of economic slavery and thoughtless depletion of scarce resources. A new President from either party can come out swinging with a hopeful and progressive space program that regains the global economic initiative for the US. This must provide for positive collaborations with the other leading global economies in a global win-win on energy supplies, environmental protection, global economic growth, and expansion of the space economy. It is entirely speculative on my part whether Hillary Clinton will see and seize these opportunities or whether a Republican will alternatively do so. I can hope they all campaign with this in mind in 2016.

January 2014 in the To The Stars International Quarterly

What Climate Deniers Cost US.

Delaying action on climate change could damage the economy according to the White House Council of Economic Advisors. Every decade of delay will increase the cost by 40% because remediation will be more difficult. This means that climate deniers funded by the Koch Brothers and other Big Oil, Coal and Gas companies have already cost US taxpayers and world citizens over 140% more of the cost of mitigating the damage they have done. Meanwhile the fossil fuel industry receives, world-wide, over half a trillion dollars in yearly tax breaks, depletion allowances and direct subsidies.

Carrying Capacity

With 7 billion people the world is overpopulated. The carrying capacity of earth is unknown, but with 2 billion going hungry and 4 billion in poverty we have greatly exceeded it. The toxins and garbage we generate are changing the planet. We add another billion people every 11 years. By 2050 we will have 10 billion people on earth.

The greatest determinant of wealth is primary energy. With abundant energy societies get richer. When societies get richer the birth rate falls.  But this demand for energy causes climate change.

Climate change is accelerating beyond the worst-case scenarios of world scientists. A tipping point, a point of no return, may occur at any time. Sea level rise, caused by climate change may displace whole populations into neighboring countries, causing instability, leading to war.

U.S. military studies state that nuclear war caused by climate-driven instability is potentially the greatest threat to the United States and world civilization.

Other world threats are pandemics caused by overcrowding, and asteroid strikes. Each may catastrophically reduce world populations, causing death to billions and the possible end of civilization.

Civilization-ending asteroids from the Oort Cloud approaching from behind the sun can strike earth with little or no warning.

By 2050 primary energy demand by current modern and emerging societies will be three times the present and will have to be three times as clean. There are no known earthly technologies that can achieve this. We are running out of arable land and natural resources. Climate change caused extreme weather is adding to these problems.

These problems can be mitigated by a movement into space, to colonize and exploit the Moon, Mars, space colonies, asteroids, comets and the moons of solar planets. Space Solar Power and Fusion from Lunar fuel is clean, safe, and renewable. There are more natural resources in the comets and asteroids than on earth.

In recent generations we have achieved the technological means to move into space while creating the necessity to do so.

Within a few generations we will either solve these problems and move beyond our small, fragile home, or we will devolve to an earlier state of civilization. It is an intelligence test for the human race. We need an all out world effort in a crisis mode.

Top Scientists tell us we need a Marshall Plan, a Manhattan project, to develop new energy from space; a crash program for humanity to survive and move beyond…

“The earth is the cradle of humanity. But one cannot stay in the cradle forever.”                                                    …Constantin Tsiolkovsky

The Tragedy of the Climate Commons

 In 1968 Garrett Hardin described a commons shared by all where herders could graze their cows without cost. With no cost each herder was incentivized to graze more and more cows until the ability of the commons to feed them collapsed. 

The Tragedy of the Climate Commons, so far, is that there has been no cost to spew carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Therefore, all nations and all industries are incentivized to pollute until the climate is collapsing. An answer is to charge for pollution: Cap and Trade. This de-incentivizes pollution, but very slowly. Cap and Trade still provides for the  polluters to destroy the climate commons, only more slowly and expensively. We want more energy and we are willing to destroy the future climate for convenience and energy wealth today.

But there is an unlimited commons; the flux of solar energy in space. All can grab as much as possible without diminishing the whole. The only limit is in the most favorable positions in Geo Synchronous Orbit and these will go to the first to exploit this commons. 

Nasa-Funded Study: Industrial Civilisation Headed for ‘Irreversible Collapse’?

Friday 14 March 2014 
Nasa-Funded Study: Industrial Civilisation
Headed for ‘Irreversible Collapse’?
A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilization could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.
Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”
The research project is based on a new cross-disciplinary ‘Human And Nature DYnamical’ (HANDY) model, led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the US National Science Foundation-supported National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, in association with a team of natural and social scientists. The study based on the HANDY model has been accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed Elsevier journal, Ecological Economics. It finds that according to the historical record even advanced, complex civilisations are susceptible to collapse, raising questions about the sustainability of modern civilisation:

“The fall of the Roman Empire, and the equally (if not more) advanced Han, Mauryan, and Gupta Empires, as well as so many advanced Mesopotamian Empires, are all testimony to the fact that advanced, sophisticated, complex, and creative civilizations can be both fragile and impermanent.”

By investigating the human-nature dynamics of these past cases of collapse, the project identifies the most salient interrelated factors which explain civilisational decline, and which may help determine the risk of collapse today: namely, Population, Climate, Water, Agriculture, and Energy. These factors can lead to collapse when they converge to generate two crucial social features: “the stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity”; and “the economic stratification of society into Elites [rich] and Masses (or “Commoners”) [poor]” These social phenomena have played “a central role in the character or in the process of the collapse,” in all such cases over “the last five thousand years.” Currently, high levels of economic stratification are linked directly to overconsumption of resources, with “Elites” based largely in industrialised countries responsible for both:

“… accumulated surplus is not evenly distributed throughout society, but rather has been controlled by an elite. The mass of the population, while producing the wealth, is only allocated a small portion of it by elites, usually at or just above subsistence levels.”

The study challenges those who argue that technology will resolve these challenges by increasing efficiency:

“Technological change can raise the efficiency of resource use, but it also tends to raise both per capita resource consumption and the scale of resource extraction, so that, absent policy effects, the increases in consumption often compensate for the increased efficiency of resource use.”

Productivity increases in agriculture and industry over the last two centuries has come from “increased (rather than decreased) resource throughput,” despite dramatic efficiency gains over the same period. Modelling a range of different scenarios, Motesharri and his colleagues conclude that under conditions “closely reflecting the reality of the world today… we find that collapse is difficult to avoid.” In the first of these scenarios, civilisation:

“…. appears to be on a sustainable path for quite a long time, but even using an optimal depletion rate and starting with a very small number of Elites, the Elites eventually consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society. It is important to note that this Type-L collapse is due to an inequality-induced famine that causes a loss of workers, rather than a collapse of Nature.”

Another scenario focuses on the role of continued resource exploitation, finding that “with a larger depletion rate, the decline of the Commoners occurs faster, while the Elites are still thriving, but eventually the Commoners collapse completely, followed by the Elites.” In both scenarios, Elite wealth monopolies mean that they are buffered from the most “detrimental effects of the environmental collapse until much later than the Commoners”, allowing them to “continue ‘business as usual’ despite the impending catastrophe.” The same mechanism, they argue, could explain how “historical collapses were allowed to occur by elites who appear to be oblivious to the catastrophic trajectory (most clearly apparent in the Roman and Mayan cases).” Applying this lesson to our contemporary predicament, the study warns that:

“While some members of society might raise the alarm that the system is moving towards an impending collapse and therefore advocate structural changes to society in order to avoid it, Elites and their supporters, who opposed making these changes, could point to the long sustainable trajectory ‘so far’ in support of doing nothing.”

However, the scientists point out that the worst-case scenarios are by no means inevitable, and suggest that appropriate policy and structural changes could avoid collapse, if not pave the way toward a more stable civilisation. The two key solutions are to reduce economic inequality so as to ensure fairer distribution of resources, and to dramatically reduce resource consumption by relying on less intensive renewable resources and reducing population growth:

“Collapse can be avoided and population can reach equilibrium if the per capita rate of depletion of nature is reduced to a sustainable level, and if resources are distributed in a reasonably equitable fashion.”

The NASA-funded HANDY model offers a highly credible wake-up call to governments, corporations and business – and consumers – to recognise that ‘business as usual’ cannot be sustained, and that policy and structural changes are required immediately. Although the study is largely theoretical, a number of other more empirically-focused studies – by KPMG and the UK Government Office of Science for instance – have warned that the convergence of food, water and energy crises could create a ‘perfect storm’ within about fifteen years. But these ‘business as usual’ forecasts could be very conservative. Dr Nafeez Ahmed is executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development and author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation: And How to Save It among other books. Follow him on Twitter@nafeezahmed



The Stern Report – Economics of Climate Change

Climate change mitigation creates jobs…

Summary of Conclusions

There is still time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, if we take strong action now. The scientific evidence is now overwhelming: climate change is a serious global threat, and it demands an urgent global response.

This Review has assessed a wide range of evidence on the impacts of climate change and on the economic costs, and has used a number of different techniques to assess costs and risks. From all of these perspectives, the evidence gathered by the Review leads to a simple conclusion: the benefits of strong and early action far outweigh the economic costs of not acting.

Climate change will affect the basic elements of life for people around the world – access to water, food production, health, and the environment. Hundreds of millions of people could suffer hunger, water shortages and coastal flooding as the world warms.

Using the results from formal economic models, the Review estimates that if we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be equivalent to losing at least 5% of global GDP each year, now and forever. If a wider range of risks and impacts is taken into account, the estimates of damage could rise to 20% of GDP or more.

In contrast, the costs of action – reducing greenhouse gas emissions to avoid the worst impacts of climate change – can be limited to around 1% of global GDP each year.

The investment that takes place in the next 10-20 years will have a profound effect on the climate in the second half of this century and in the next. Our actions now and over the coming decades could create risks of major disruption to economic and social activity, on a scale similar to those associated with the great wars and the economic depression of the first half of the 20th century. And it will be difficult or impossible to reverse these changes.

So prompt and strong action is clearly warranted. Because climate change is a global problem, the response to it must be international. It must be based on a shared vision of long-term goals and agreement on frameworks that will accelerate action over the next decade, and it must build on mutually reinforcing approaches at national, regional and international level.