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U.S.-Brazil relations key to Latin American security- includes terror and proliferation

Kellie Meiman and David Rothkopf. Meiman, graduate of the Georgetown University School ofForeign Service, where she graduated with honors and received a certificate in Latin American Studies. Ms. Meiman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rothkpof, President and CEO of Garten. Rothkopf, an international advisory firm specializing in transformational global trends. March 2009.

(“The United States and Brazil: Two perspectives on dealing with partnership and rivalry”,, js)

While the challenges of Afghanistan, India, Pakistan, the Middle East and the Korean

peninsula will continue to monopolize center stage in U.S. national security policy, we

have reentered a time where hemispheric security is global security. We last saw this reality

during the Cold War, but the source of the current dynamic is different, with petrodollars fueling much of the divisive activity. Even with the declining price of oil, Venezuela stands out as a counterproductive force in regional affairs. Its interference in and funding of political movements beyond its borders has been a destabilizing force in countries from Honduras to Bolivia, with a relative U.S. leadership vacuumenhancing Venezuela’s ability to influence outcomes. Beyond the rise of radical populism in Venezuela, Ecuador and elsewhere, Russia has enhanced its presence in the Americas through highlevel visits, warming up relationswith Cuba, and engaging in (modest) joint military and naval maneuvers with Venezuela. China and Iran are also more active in the region. As President Obama noted in the first presidential debate, the presence of other powers in Latin America “is made all the more notable by our absence.” The spread of populism and the re-emergence of Russia in South America are neither in the U.S. nor Brazilian national interests. China and Iran’s recent forays into Latin America are also not in our joint interests, and neither is a reprise of an arms race in Latin America. The United States should collaborate with Brazil on security matters both bilaterally and multilaterally, particularly when they reinforce Brazilian interests as well, and our interests are

more often in synch than is considered by either side. We need not be in perfect agreement

on the desired solution to dialogue meaningfully on security threats. Brazil’s voluntary decision not to pursue nuclear weapons makes it a potential ally not only on regional, but global security questions, including those involving Iran and nuclear non-proliferation writ large.

Terrorism causes extinction

Morgan, Hankuk University Professor of Foreign Studies, 6-31-2009

(South Korea, “World on fire: two scenarios of the destruction of human civilization and possible extinction of the human race,” Futures, November, Science Direct)

In a remarkable website on nuclear war, Carol Moore asks the question ‘‘Is Nuclear War Inevitable??’’ [10].4 In Section 1, Moore points out what most terrorists obviously already know about the nuclear tensions between powerful countries. No doubt, they’ve figured out that the best way to escalate these tensions into nuclear war is to set off a nuclear exchange. As Moore points out, all that militant terrorists would have to do is get their hands on one small nuclear bomb and explode it on either Moscow or Israel. Because of the Russian ‘‘dead hand’’ system, ‘‘where regional nuclear commanders would be given full powers should Moscow be destroyed,’’ it is likely that any attack would be blamed on the United States’’ [10]. Israeli leaders and Zionist supporters have, likewise, stated for years that if Israel were to suffer a nuclear attack, whether from terrorists or a nation state, it would retaliate with the suicidal ‘‘Samson option’’ against all major Muslim cities in the Middle East. Furthermore, the Israeli Samson option would also include attacks on Russia and even ‘‘anti-Semitic’’ European cities [10]. In that case, of course, Russia would retaliate, and the U.S. would then retaliate against Russia. China would probably be involved as well, as thousands, if not tens of thousands, of nuclear warheads, many of them much more powerful than those used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, would rain upon most of the major cities in the Northern Hemisphere. Afterwards, for years to come, massive radioactive clouds would drift throughout the Earth in the nuclear fallout, bringing death or else radiation disease that would be genetically transmitted to future generations in a nuclear winter that could last as long as a 100 years, taking a savage toll upon the environment and fragile ecosphere as well. And what many people fail to realize is what a precarious, hair-trigger basis the nuclear web rests on. Any accident, mistaken communication, false signal or ‘‘lone wolf’ act of sabotage or treason could, in a matter of a few minutes, unleash the use of nuclear weapons, and once a weapon is used, then the likelihood of a rapid escalation of nuclear attacks is quite high while the likelihood of a limited nuclear war is actually less probable since each country would act under the ‘‘use them or lose them’’ strategy and psychology; restraint by one power would be interpreted as a weakness by the other, which could be exploited as a window of opportunity to ‘‘win’’ the war. In other words, once Pandora’s Box is opened, it will spread quickly, as it will be the signal for permission for anyone to use them. Moore compares swift nuclear escalation to a room full of people embarrassed to cough. Once one does, however, ‘‘everyone else feels free to do so. The bottom line is that as long as large nation states use internal and external war to keep their disparate factions glued together and to satisfy elites’ needs for power and plunder, these nations will attempt to obtain, keep, and inevitably use nuclear weapons. And as long as large nations oppress groups who seek self determination, some of those groups will look for any means to fight their oppressors’’ [10]. In other words, as long as war and aggression are backed up by the implicit threat of nuclear arms, it is only a matter of time before the escalation of violent conflict leads to the actual use of nuclear weapons, and once even just one is used, it is very likely that many, if not all, will be used, leading to horrific scenarios of global death and the destruction of much of human civilization while condemning a mutant human remnant, if there is such a remnant, to a life of unimaginable misery and suffering in a nuclear winter.

Latin American proliferation causes extinction

Ferkaluk, Executive Officer to the Commander at 88 Air Base Wing

Logistics Readiness Officer at United States Air Force, Fall 2010

(Global Security Studies, “Latin America: Terrorist Actors on a Nuclear Stage,” pg 12, ACCESSED June 29, 2013, RJ)

The close relationship the US must maintain with Latin America is not only vital in the fight against domestic and international terrorism, but also in the fight to curtail nuclear proliferation in the region. Although there is no immediate risk of Latin America in becoming a haven for a nuclear arms race, it could pose a serious threat of pursuing nuclear weapons in the coming years if the civilian-run governments of these states fall victim to leftist revolutionaries. Another factor to consider is the fact that Latin America has historically been active in both nuclear weapons development and nuclear power development. And given Latin America’s tendency toward military junta regimes (stratocracy), the US cannot turn a blind eye to the possibility of nuclear activity in Latin America. All Latin American countries are party to the NPT. Not all are members of international conventions such as the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage and not all adopt an Additional Protocol (AP) to their safeguards agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The region itself has been declared a nuclear-free zone according to the Treaty of Tlatelolco. It entered into force in 1969 and did not have all 33 Latin American states sign onto it until Cuba added its name in 2002. However, the treaty itself has not served as an absolute ban of nuclear weapons in the region. Brazil, for instance, has not let the Treaty of Tlatelolco stand in the way of its own weapons development program in the late 1970s. And Venezuela today is not letting it stand in its way either. The most significant weakness of the treaty is the fact that it permits parties of the treaty to develop nuclear explosives for peaceful purposes. Therefore, Latin America has served as battlefield in the fight for non-proliferation.

Energy Security

U.S. Brazil relations key to energy independence

Kellie Meiman and David Rothkopf. Meiman, graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where she graduated with honors and received a certificate in Latin American Studies. Ms. Meiman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rothkpof, President and CEO of Garten. Rothkopf, an international advisory firm specializing in transformational global trends. March 2009.

(“The United States and Brazil: Two perspectives on dealing with partnership and rivalry”,, js)

The United States relies on the Western hemisphere—including Canada—for nearly half of its oil. Canada, Mexico and Venezuela are top suppliers to the United States, making energy security a critical component of hemispheric foreign policy. This is particularly true after Brazil’s new oil finds in 2008, which could make Brazil the eighth largest oilproducing nation, surpassing Russia. This developmentpoints to another area in which the United States and Brazil may be able to cooperate as we must shift our energy sources to within our circle of allies wherever possible—an approach not mutually exclusive to efforts toward eventual energy independence.Before we can engage Brazil effectively, however, the United States has a serious need to rebuild its credibility on energy and environmental issues. Part of the United States reasserting itself on environmental issues isreintegrating itself into multilateral post-Kyoto climate change initiatives. This would be welcome in Brazil. Further, we should deepen ongoing efforts between our respective non-government organization communitiesand seek to partner with the Brazilian government on international conservation efforts, while respecting national sovereignty. New U.S. leadership will surely challenge its local consumers to reduce energy consumption, as has been done successfully in times of energy shortages in Brazil. Tocreatively approach conservation in the United States, we should learn what we can from Brazil’s experience. Scientific and academic exchanges between the United States and Brazil on alternativeenergy should be encouraged. Current discussions between the United States and Brazil on biofuels have only scratched the surface without addressing other alternative fuel sources, such as wind and solar. Also, our bilateral ethanol dialogue is narrow, with discussions on bilateral trade non-existentand third-market initiatives covering only four countries. This limited dialogue is not broad enough to help address U.S. energy needs, climate change, or to build a global market for ethanol.


U.S.-Brazil relations key to revitalize the U.S. economy

Kellie Meiman and David Rothkopf. Meiman, graduate of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, where she graduated with honors and received a certificate in Latin American Studies. Ms. Meiman is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rothkpof, President and CEO of Garten. Rothkopf, an international advisory firm specializing in transformational global trends. March 2009.

(“The United States and Brazil: Two perspectives on dealing with partnership and rivalry”,, js)

The U.S.-Brazil economic relationship historically has been viewed through the prism

of International Monetary Fund packages, trade disputes and a failure to meaningfully

engage in free trade negotiations. The bilateral trade dynamic has been exacerbated by

an overarching Brazilian view that international economic engagement could threaten national industry, as well as by U.S. trade barriers and subsidies on some agricultural products where Brazil is particularly competitive. On the finance side, Brazil has not needed IMF assistance for many years. TheBrazilian banking system is strong and undergoing further consolidation, while the United States finds itself in the worst banking and market crisis since the Great Depression. Brazil, while also hit by the global economic turmoil, has emerged as an investment-grade creditor nation, with a diversified economy and a significant number of indigenous multinationals invested around the globe. This “new” Brazil has broader international economic interests than had previously been the case, as is natural when a country’s companies invest heavily overseas. As such, Brazil is learning to balance meaningful commercial diplomacy with political diplomacy in an unprecedented way.

Global economic crisis causes war – strong statistical support proves

Royal 10 Director of Cooperative Threat Reduction at the U.S. Department of Defense [Jedediah Royal, 2010, Economic Integration, Economic Signaling and the Problem of Economic Crises, in Economics of War and Peace: Economic, Legal and Political Perspectives, ed. Goldsmith and Brauer, p. 213-215]

Less intuitive is how periods of economic decline may increase the likelihood of external conflict. Political science literature has contributed a moderate degree of attention to the impact of economic decline and the security and defence behaviour of interdependent stales. Research in this vein has been considered at systemic, dyadic and national levels. Several notable contributions follow. First, on the systemic level. Pollins (20081 advances Modclski and Thompson's (1996) work on leadership cycle theory, finding that rhythms in the global economy are associated with the rise and fall of a pre-eminent power and the often bloody transition from one pre-eminent leader to the next. As such, exogenous shocks such as economic crises could usher in a redistribution of relative power (see also Gilpin. 19SJ) that leads to uncertainty about power balances, increasing the risk of miscalculation (Fcaron. 1995). Alternatively, even a relatively certain redistribution of power could lead to a permissive environment for conflict as a rising power may seek to challenge a declining power (Werner. 1999). Separately. Pollins (1996) also shows that global economic cycles combined with parallel leadership cycles impact the likelihood of conflict among major, medium and small powers, although he suggests that the causes and connections between global economic conditions and security conditions remain unknown. Second, on a dyadic level. Copeland's (1996. 2000) theory of trade expectations suggests that 'future expectation of trade' is a significant variable in understanding economic conditions and security behaviour of states. He argues that interdependent states arc likely to gain pacific benefits from trade so long as they have an optimistic view of future trade relations. However, if the expectations of future trade decline, particularly for difficult to replace items such as energy resources, the likelihood for conflict increases, as states will be inclined to use force to gain access to those resources. Crises could potentially be the trigger for decreased trade expectations either on its own or because it triggers protectionist moves by interdependent states.4 Third, others have considered the link between economic decline and external armed conflict at a national level. Mom berg and Hess (2002) find a strong correlation between internal conflict and external conflict, particularly during periods of economic downturn. They write. The linkage, between internal and external conflict and prosperity are strong and mutually reinforcing. Economic conflict lends to spawn internal conflict, which in turn returns the favour. Moreover, the presence of a recession tends to amplify the extent to which international and external conflicts self-reinforce each other (Hlomhen? & Hess. 2(102. p. X9> Economic decline has also been linked with an increase in the likelihood of terrorism (Blombcrg. Hess. & Weerapana, 2004). which has the capacity to spill across borders and lead to external tensions. Furthermore, crises generally reduce the popularity of a sitting government. "Diversionary theory" suggests that, when facing unpopularity arising from economic decline, sitting governments have increased incentives to fabricate external military conflicts to create a 'rally around the flag' effect. Wang (1996), DcRoucn (1995), and Blombcrg. Hess, and Thacker (2006) find supporting evidence showing that economic decline and use of force arc at least indirecti) correlated. Gelpi (1997). Miller (1999). and Kisangani and Pickering (2009) suggest that Ihe tendency towards diversionary tactics arc greater for democratic states than autocratic states, due to the fact that democratic leaders are generally more susceptible to being removed from office due to lack of domestic support. DeRouen (2000) has provided evidence showing that periods of weak economic performance in the United States, and thus weak Presidential popularity, are statistically linked lo an increase in the use of force. In summary, rcccni economic scholarship positively correlates economic integration with an increase in the frequency of economic crises, whereas political science scholarship links economic decline with external conflict al systemic, dyadic and national levels.' This implied connection between integration, crises and armed conflict has not featured prominently in the economic-security debate and deserves more attention.


Cooperation with Brazil is popular in Congress

Andrés Spognardi, Consulting Researcher with the UN Research Institute for Social Development, 26 Feb 2013

(“The Politics of the Cooperative Sector in Developing Countries: Insights from Argentina, Brazil and Colombia”,, js)

Since the election of more progressive governments in 2003, both Brazil and Argentina have abandoned the discredited neoliberal paradigm and adopted a more proactive approach toward the cooperative sector. In contrast to what happened in the 1990s, the Argentian and Brazilian Left-leaning administrations started to acknowledge the potential socioeconomic benefits of cooperatives and explicitly included them in the national development agenda. But contrary to what one might have expected, the authorities’ new attitude has not necessarily translated into better policies. Although both countries have channeled significant resources into the cooperative sector, the differences in the organizational structures of the two cooperative movements have been reflected in their ability to exploit the opportunities provided by the favourable political environment. While maintaining its influential, multi-partisan ties to the Congress, the strong and cohesive Brazilian cooperative leadership has been able to establish a largely constructive relationship with the national Leftist administration. Taking advantage of the friendly political context, Brazilian cooperatives have become major actors in the policy-making process. They have used their leverage to exert considerable influence on the policy agenda, and have fruitfully collaborated with the authorities in the development and implementation of important policy initiatives, such as the Brazilian Cooperative Plan—a national strategy aimed at providing support to cooperative businesses


U.S.-Brazil relationship key to preserve biodiversity and stop climate change

Thomas Shannon, U.S. Embassador to Brazil, December 7th, 2010

(“Climate change, opportunity for advances”,, js)

This year alone, the United States has significantly increased it climate finance to a total of $1.7 billion, $1.3 billion of Congressionally-appropriated assistance and $400 million of development finance and export credit. Evidence of this progress can be seen in Brazil, where the U.S. is investing US$ 4 million and leveraging its technical expertise to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, create sustainable strategies for the management of forests, and promote forest carbon market readiness. These activities work in conjunction with conservation policies launched by the government of Brazil to protect biodiversity and further reduce carbon emissions throughout Brazil; and taken together with our cooperation on climate change research and capacity building, they form the core of the U.S.-Brazil partnership on climate change. The United States is also working hard to reduce its own emissions and transition to a clean energy economy. President Obama’s Recovery Act provided more than $80 billion in investments, loans and incentives to support a range of initiatives that are vital to this goal. We have put in place the most ambitious U.S. fuel economy and tailpipe emission standards ever. We are taking important steps to reduce emissions from our largest polluting sources. And President Obama remains committed to passing domestic energy and climate legislation. As I travel throughout Brazil I see broad concern about the current impacts and the potential threats of changing climate – concerns that Americans share. But I am encouraged by the actions that are being taken here and around the world to work toward a clean energy future that promotes sustainable economic growth for all. Just as no nation can escape the effects of climate change, no nation alone can solve this problem. Two weeks ago I visited the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park in Goiás, which had been recently devastated by fires after a year of unusually severe droughts. The U.S. Forest Service and the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation will work together to share best practices in protecting natural areas for the benefit of generations to come. And earlier this year, our two countries reached an agreement to convert old debts into funding for Brazilian environmental organizations, demonstrating that the U.S.-Brazil partnership on climate change is robust, responsive to local needs, and based on shared responsibilities.

Biodiversity loss would devastate the human race – diseases would spread, services, would be lost, and the global economy would decline.

Coyne and Hoekstra 7, (Jerry, Professor in the Dept of Ecology and Evolution at the University of Chicago; Hopi E is John L. Loeb, Associate professor Dept of Organic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University and Curator od Mammals at the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology. “Diversity Loss As We Head Towards a Lonely Planet” published in the Weekend Australian. Nov 10. Lexis

Why, exactly, should we care? Let's start with the most celebrated case: rainforests. Their loss will worsen global warming, raising temperatures, melting icecaps and flooding coastal cities. And, as the forest habitat shrinks, so begins the inevitable contact between organisms that have not evolved together, a scenario played out many times and one that is never good. Dreadful diseases have successfully jumped species boundaries, with humans as prime recipients. We have got AIDS from apes, severe acute respiratory syndrome from civets and Ebola from fruit bats. Additional worldwide plagues from unknown microbes are a real possibility. But it isn't just the destruction of the rainforests that should trouble us. Healthy ecosystems the world over provide hidden services such as waste disposal, nutrient cycling, soil formation, water purification and oxygen production. Such services are best rendered by ecosystems that are diverse. Yet, through intention and accident, humans have introduced exotic species that turn biodiversity into monoculture. Fast-growing zebra mussels, for example, have outcompeted more than 15 species of native mussels in North America's Great Lakes and have damaged harbours and water-treatment plants. Native prairies are becoming dominated by single species (often genetically homogenous) of corn or wheat. Thanks to these developments, soils will erode and become unproductive which, along with temperature change, will diminish agricultural yields. Meanwhile, with increased pollution and run-off, as well as reduced forest cover, ecosystems will no longer be able to purify water, and a shortage of clean water spells disaster. In many ways, oceans are the most vulnerable areas of all. As overfishing eliminates important predators, while polluted and warming waters kill off phytoplankton, the intricate aquatic food web could collapse from both sides. Fish, on which so many humans depend, will be a fond memory. As phytoplankton vanish, so does the ability of the oceans to absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. (Half of the oxygen we breathe is made by phytoplankton, with the rest coming from land plants.) Species extinction is also imperilling coral reefs, a big problem since these reefs have more than recreational value: they provide tremendous amounts of food for human populations and buffer coastlines against erosion. Indeed, the global value of hidden services provided by ecosystems -- those services, such as waste disposal, that aren't bought and sold in the marketplace -- has been estimated to be as much as $US50thousand billion ($53.8 thousand billion) a year, roughly equal to the gross domestic product of all countries combined. And that doesn't include tangible goods such as fish and timber. Life as we know it would be impossible if ecosystems collapsed. Yet that is where we're heading if species extinction continues at its present pace. Extinction also has a huge impact on medicine. Who really cares if, say, a worm in the remote swamps of French Guiana becomes extinct? Well, those who suffer from cardiovascular disease. The recent discovery of a rare South American leech has led to the isolation of a powerful enzyme that, unlike other anticoagulants, not only prevents blood from clotting but also dissolves existing clots. And it's not just this species of worm: its wriggly relatives have evolved other biomedically valuable proteins, including antistatin (a potential anti-cancer agent), decorsin and ornatin (platelet aggregation inhibitors) and hirudin (another anticoagulant). Plants, too, are pharmaceutical goldmines. The bark of trees, for example, has given us quinine (the first cure for malaria), taxol (a drug that is highly effective against ovarian and breast cancer) and aspirin. More than one-quarter of the medicines on our pharmacy shelves were originally derived from plants. The sap of the Madagascar periwinkle contains more than 70 useful alkaloids, including vincristine, a powerful anti-cancer drug that saved the life of one of our friends. Of the roughly 250,000 plant species on Earth, fewer than 5 per cent have been screened for pharmaceutical properties. Who knows what life-saving drugs remain to be discovered? Given present extinction rates, it's estimated that we're losing one valuable drug every two years. Our arguments so far have tacitly assumed that species are worth saving only in proportion to their economic value and their effects on our quality of life, an attitude that is strongly ingrained, especially in Americans. That is why conservationists always base their case on an economic calculus. But we biologists know in our hearts that there are deeper and equally compelling reasons to worry about the loss of biodiversity: namely, morality and intellectual values that transcend pecuniary interests. What, for example, gives us the right to destroy other creatures? And what could be more thrilling than looking around us, seeing that we are surrounded by our evolutionary cousins and realising that we all got here by the same simple process of natural selection? To biologists, and potentially everyone else, apprehending the genetic kinship and common origin of all species is a spiritual experience, not necessarily religious but spiritual nonetheless, for it stirs the soul. But whether or not one is moved by such concerns, it is certain that our future is bleak if we do nothing to stem this sixth extinction. We are creating a world in which exotic diseases flourish but natural medicinal cures are lost; a world in which carbon waste accumulates while food sources dwindle; a world of sweltering heat, failing crops and impure water. In the end, we must accept the possibility that we are not immune to extinction. Or, if we survive, perhaps only a few of us will remain, scratching out a grubby existence on a devastated planet. Global warming will seem like a secondary problem when humanity finally faces the consequences of what we have done to nature; not just another Great Dying, but perhaps the greatest dying of them all.

Warming causes extinction

Deibel 7

(Terry, "Foreign Affairs Strategy: Logic of American Statecraft," Conclusion: American Foreign Affairs Strategy Today)

Finally, there is one major existential threat to American security (as well as prosperity) of a nonviolent nature, which, though far in the future, demands urgent action. It is the threat of global warming to the stability of the climate upon which all earthly life depends. Scientists worldwide have been observing the gathering of this threat for three decades now, and what was once a mere possibility has passed through probability to near certainty. Indeed not one of more than 900 articles on climate change published in refereed scientific journals from 1993 to 2003 doubted that anthropogenic warming is occurring. “In legitimate scientific circles,” writes Elizabeth Kolbert, “it is virtually impossible to find evidence of disagreement over the fundamentals of global warming.” Evidence from a vast international scientific monitoring effort accumulates almost weekly, as this sample of newspaper reports shows: an international panel predicts “brutal droughts, floods and violent storms across the planet over the next century”; climate change could “literally alter ocean currents, wipe away huge portions of Alpine Snowcaps and aid the spread of cholera and malaria”; “glaciers in the Antarctic and in Greenland are melting much faster than expected, and…worldwide, plants are blooming several days earlier than a decade ago”; “rising sea temperatures have been accompanied by a significant global increase in the most destructive hurricanes”; “NASA scientists have concluded from direct temperature measurements that 2005 was the hottest year on record, with 1998 a close second”; “Earth’s warming climate is estimated to contribute to more than 150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses each year” as disease spreads; “widespread bleaching from Texas to Trinidad…killed broad swaths of corals” due to a 2-degree rise in sea temperatures. “The world is slowly disintegrating,” concluded Inuit hunter Noah Metuq, who lives 30 miles from the Arctic Circle. “They call it climate change…but we just call it breaking up.” From the founding of the first cities some 6,000 years ago until the beginning of the industrial revolution, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere remained relatively constant at about 280 parts per million (ppm). At present they are accelerating toward 400 ppm, and by 2050 they will reach 500 ppm, about double pre-industrial levels. Unfortunately, atmospheric CO2 lasts about a century, so there is no way immediately to reduce levels, only to slow their increase, we are thus in for significant global warming; the only debate is how much and how serious the effects will be. As the newspaper stories quoted above show, we are already experiencing the effects of 1-2 degree warming in more violent storms, spread of disease, mass die offs of plants and animals, species extinction, and threatened inundation of low-lying countries like the Pacific nation of Kiribati and the Netherlands at a warming of 5 degrees or less the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets could disintegrate, leading to a sea level of rise of 20 feet that would cover North Carolina’s outer banks, swamp the southern third of Florida, and inundate Manhattan up to the middle of Greenwich Village. Another catastrophic effect would be the collapse of the Atlantic thermohaline circulation that keeps the winter weather in Europe far warmer than its latitude would otherwise allow. Economist William Cline once estimated the damage to the United States alone from moderate levels of warming at 1-6 percent of GDP annually; severe warming could cost 13-26 percent of GDP. But the most frightening scenario is runaway greenhouse warming, based on positive feedback from the buildup of water vapor in the atmosphere that is both caused by and causes hotter surface temperatures. Past ice age transitions, associated with only 5-10 degree changes in average global temperatures, took place in just decades, even though no one was then pouring ever-increasing amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. Faced with this specter, the best one can conclude is that “humankind’s continuing enhancement of the natural greenhouse effect is akin to playing Russian roulette with the earth’s climate and humanity’s life support system. At worst, says physics professor Marty Hoffert of New York University, “we’re just going to burn everything up; we’re going to heat the atmosphere to the temperature it was in the Cretaceous when there were crocodiles at the poles, and then everything will collapse.” During the Cold War, astronomer Carl Sagan popularized a theory of nuclear winter to describe how a thermonuclear war between the United States and the Soviet Union would not only destroy both countries but possible end life on this planet. Global warming is the post-Cold War era’s equivalent of nuclear winter at least as serious and considerably better supported scientifically. Over the long run it puts dangers form terrorism and traditional military challenges to shame. It is a threat not only to the security and prosperity to the United States, but potentially to the continued existence of life on this planet.

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