As the news of NSA surveillance is analyzed it's revealed that the Pentagon is preparing for future environmental and energy chaos with data assembled from social media. The Guardian analyses the NSA documents with views to why Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations.
There can be no doubt that environmental chaos will occur as the worse effects of climate change become more apparent. And as the rapid transition to clean energy occurs with starts and fits there may be shortages which will create unrest among groups affected. Climate change could create 150 million climate refugees due to rising seas by 2050. There will be global food and clean water shortages and climate sensitive diseases will spread unabated.
But why have Western security agencies developed such an unprecedented capacity to spy on their own domestic populations? Since the 2008 economic crash, security agencies have increasingly spied on political activists, especially environmental groups, on behalf of corporate interests. This activity is linked to the last decade of US defence planning, which has been increasingly concerned by the risk of civil unrest at home triggered by catastrophic events linked to climate change, energy shocks or economic crisis - or all three. Just last month, unilateral changes to US military laws formally granted the Pentagon extraordinary powers to intervene in a domestic "emergency" or "civil disturbance":
"Federal military commanders have the authority, in extraordinary emergency circumstances where prior authorization by the President is impossible and duly constituted local authorities are unable to control the situation, to engage temporarily in activities that are necessary to quell large-scale, unexpected civil disturbances."
Other documents show that the "extraordinary emergencies" the Pentagon is worried about include a range of environmental and related disasters.
In 2006, the US National Security Strategy warned that:
"Environmental destruction, whether caused by human behavior or cataclysmic mega-disasters such as floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or tsunamis. Problems of this scope may overwhelm the capacity of local authorities to respond, and may even overtax national militaries, requiring a larger international response."
We can debate how far we choose to allow this intrusion but we need to be aware that a future with runaway climate change will shatter preconceptions of what our future will include.
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