Climate Change And Learning From The Disaster in Libya

Libya Flood 2

One of the most important tasks before our troubled world relates to protective steps to reduce the harmful impacts of adverse weather and disasters arising from climate change. As is well understood and adequately documented, climate change leads to much increased possibility of adverse weather events and disasters which can be significantly more threatening than what the world has experienced so far.

In many parts of world governments and communities are taking significant protective steps to reduce the high risks related to this. These noble efforts deserve appreciation and encouragement. Unfortunately the richest countries have lagged far behind in their help for this and if they make up for this, then these steps will progress even more.

However there is an even bigger obstacle for these efforts as well as the efforts for reducing GHG emssions. This relates to wars, war preparations, arms race and and military industrial complex (I would be using the words ‘the war industry’ for all of this). As long as these most destructive factors remain, humanity can never unite to achieve climate change mitigation and adaptation as well as related aims of environmental protection needed to avoid existential threats. Quite apart from the fact that the war industry is itself the worst polluter and destroyer, the war industry is responsible for disrupting badly the protective capacities of various countries one after the other.

The most obvious example of this is the complete failure of all protective and preventive aspects in the recent Libyan floods, resulting in the loss of thousands of human lives which could have been saved if the protective aspects were in a state of readiness, as these should be in times of climate change. The most important reason for this crippling of protective aspects was the creation of a failed state, a divided state, by the very violent regime change brought out by the USA, the UK, France and allies with the help of thousands of bombing raids in 2011.

Similarly protective capacities have been destroyed to a large extent in several other counties including Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia as well as others, to mention only the more obvious manifestations of destruction. At a time when these countries should be preparing much better for protection in times of climate change, their protective capacities have been destroyed in a big way by bombs and the most horrible weapons.

What about Ukraine? Like the countries named above, this country too is highly vulnerable to climate change. Geographically, culturally and historically, the most obvious path ahead for this country is to live in peace and friendship with its bigger neighbor Russia, while also retaining friendship of other countries. Most of the people in both countries know, realize and accept this. But a few very narrow-minded, very powerful persons in a most powerful distant country took a decision for their narrow objectives that Ukraine and Russia will not be allowed to live in peace. This led to proxy war, coup and invasion. In the process several hundred thousand people in Ukraine have died or are seriously injured, and the country’s capacity to take the essential protective steps in times of climate change has been badly disrupted too.

Destruction and protection, destructive and protective tendencies cannot co-exist. A very clear choice should be made in favor of protective forces. This is all the more true in times of climate change.

All the noble people with very good intentions who are struggling on the climate front should realize this. However the reality is that in many big climate conferences not a word has been uttered against how Libya was destroyed, how Iraq was destroyed, how the war industry has become the biggest single obstacle in the path of the essential protective measures being taken in good time.

The floods in Libya have shown that where deaths could have been avoided, actually thousands have died because the most essential dam safety systems, the warning and evacuation systems had been destroyed by the war industry. This should be a wake-up call. This should not happen again.

Clearly there is an urgent need for linking up climate and environmental actions with peace and disarmament actions. The existential crisis has been created as much as by the weapons of mass destruction as by climate change and related environmental problems. Hence there is clearly a strong need for the coming together of the movements of environment protection with justice and peace with justice. If the movements of justice, environment protection and peace are isolated from each other, they cannot become a big force and they cannot also bring any comprehensive change. However together and united they can be a force strong enough to bring comprehensive change.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Protecting Earth for Children, Planet in Peril and A Day in 2071.

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