tv On Contact with Chris Hedges RT June 17, 2017 8:29pm-9:01pm EDT
political ramifications caused by climate change extremist right wing parties here and in europe conflate migrants with terrorism they twist the ecological crisis into a clash of civilizations xenophobia and hate crimes are on the rise borders are militarized walls are built police the border police and the immigration and customs enforcement carry out reigns of terror against those who lack legal documents r t correspondent on your power bill looks at how climate change is increasing tensions between the global north and the global self. and climate change be an issue of national security even according to our military the answer is yes of course never mind the fact the pentagon itself is actually the largest polluter in the united states that's because wherever our military and multinational corporations go environmental devastation follows but have we pushed the global underclass too far
the nine hundred ninety nine protest against the world trade organization in seattle shocks the press when americans from around the country gather to protest the meeting of global corporate elites where they craft laws and regulations favorable to their business model based on pillaging resources in poor nations around the world and those nations have fought back as well it seems as though no matter where the w t o goes be it in bali new delhi can khun nairobi or elsewhere massive demonstrations follow in two thousand and three a former korean farmer committed ritual suicide on opening day of the meeting sacrificing his life to protest against organizations agricultural policies but as developing nations grow stronger they have begun to stablish in an alternative to the global financial and economic order the so-called brics nations have emerged and are in the process of building a bank which may offer funds to third world countries for. a different kind of
development one which doesn't leave them indebted or hand their land over to multinational corporations suggesting the global south is fighting back and organizing. christian parentally is a professor in the global liberal studies program at new york university his latest book tropic of chaos climate change and the new geography of violence explores how climate change contributes to war and violence as it interacts with the legacies of neo liberalism and cold war militarism he wrote this book in two thousand and eleven and certainly far more important today than when you wrote it the disintegration that you describe is more widespread especially in the middle east and i think the brilliance of the book is you explain how collapses nonlinear it isn't just about rising temperatures and perhaps you talk a little bit about the conflict in syria but explain what climate change is doing geo politically well it's interacting with two previously existing crises right so
on the one hand the legacy of neo liberal economic restructuring has weakened states in the global south so that they don't have the capacity to pave the roads educate their population to help farmers who are in distress on the other hand much of the global south is littered with cheap weapons and veterans of previous conflicts who know how to use those weapons and so into this comes the extreme weather of climate change and so with states that have been systematically reduced to the point where they can't respond even if they wanted to how the people adapt to climate change how they adapt to the droughts or the floods very often the way is you pick up the surplus weaponry and you go after your neighbors cattle or you blame it on your neighbors ideology or ethnicity and so underneath a lot of these ethnic and religious conflicts we see that there is a climate element and it's true in syria yes i mean this is there's a major. drought sunni farmers are pushed off the land partly like partly by that
but also by assad's austerity his is neoliberal policies they go into the cities where they confront. a white dominated political structure and then this conflict at first looks like well this is just intercon fashionable stuff but there's an element which is rooted in climate change and you talk about the western response. as essentially being militarist and how this exacerbates the problem yes the. you know it's just dumping gasoline on the fire to arm states or arm insurgents and we see that in in syria where the u.s. has armed insurgents i mean the obama administration rethought that and you know sort of switched its drew much of its support for the jihad his forces in this are supporting the white b.g. but yet too often the u.s. has played the role of untag and izing the problem instigating further with
military support and at the same time also by continuing to push this bankrupt ideology of neo liberalism privatization at all costs this idea that government is always bad that the market is an omnipotent and that the only reason there are economic booms and busts are busts is because government is in the way that that is a very very dangerous theory that is pushed by the u.s. and other western powers through the world bank through the i.m.f. on to developing economies and the results of a generation of these policies now is that these states don't have the ability to subsidize farmers who need subsidies to protect internal markets to invest in internal improvements in infrastructure so that they can have. a better economy for everyone. and we should talk a little bit about global temperatures so you write this book six years ago and you
say that. if average global temperatures are likely to increase by two degrees celsius this will trigger a set of dangerous positive feedback loops that will unleash self compounding runaway climate change talk about the permafrost. or not doing anything you know yeah we're yeah we're not we're. so the really great danger in climate change is that right now human civilization and its burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of greenhouse gas emissions c o two and several other gases but at a certain point the co-op's of natural ecosystems the dying of tropical and boreal forest which are currently carbon sinks they pull c o two out the atmosphere but if they die and all that would burns or rots they can become net emitters of greenhouse gases and there is the huge deposits of methane frozen methane in the arctic and these are already beginning to come out and some extent they've always
been leaking out but so the fear is that a certain point we cross the line and there's a tipping point and the primary cause of greenhouse gas emissions will be the breakdown is natural systems and then it really is out of our control so the good news and the bad news are sort of the same thing at this point which is that it's human civilization it's what we do that's causing this and therefore we can control it by euthanizing the fossil fuel industry investing heavily in renewable energy and reducing energy consumption but really the main thing is you know building out a new energy system and it is possible we have the money we have the walls with technology it's just that it that would that project would come at the expense of the most powerful industry in world history the fossil fuel and you're right i think you make a very good point in the book that many on the left are kind of anti government and this is given the age of global corporations a very foolish position to take because government is the only institution in the
solutions that you bring up from you know. making. government vehicles are all green energy imposing such a punitive tax on the fossil fuel industry that it is just unprofitable to extract this material from the ground that all comes from government exactly yeah i mean the real history of capitalism is that government nurtures it into being supports it all the way along and the idea that markets could exist without governments is a fantasy and i think that the left is wrong in thinking that government is only the hand maiden of industry that certainly like to reproduce society government has had to at every turn many terms you know limit the power of capital in business to do exactly what it once and so we need more of that and different forms of it and so the obvious thing is you know withdraw all subsidies for fossil
fuels in this country stop allowing public lands to be used for the extraction of fossil fuels about twenty five percent of all fossil fuels come from public land so that's just step one be like go find your own fossil fuels and no you can't get subsidies for that then the government should consume clean energy retrofit its buildings by electric vehicles and we're moving in the other direction. we certainly are under trump and is this is this a centrally what karl poll yani writes about in the great transformation where capitalism on budget on embedded unregulated uncontrolled essentially just consumes everything and finally itself is not i mean that's i mean i think that's the logical conclusion of if there was to be. a complete investigation of the regulatory state that that's what would happen so the question now is i mean how successful will trump be in that there is also lots of pushback and you we have interesting things like mitch mcconnell being afraid at least up to this point of
removing the filibuster if you did that they could they could do whatever they wanted they could completely undo the new deal so you know it remains to be seen whether or not they'll continue with you know be as extreme as they can be and certainly the heartening thing is that there's been significant pushback at every turn against this administration but yet we're we're not you know it's not like they haven't it's not like we have any time. yeah i mean there are a lot of people are saying the devil know it's over and that we're already past that and you know this gets to the question of technology which is another thing that the u.s. left is a little squeamish about and there's a phrase out there which is no techno fix which unfortunately is interpreted often is technology is not part of the solution i think that's a wrong interpretation no techno fix means you can't just use technology without also addressing social relations that's correct but we also have to have technology be part of the solution and you know the technology exists to strip c o two out of
the atmosphere problem is just extremely expensive and how do you store it as a gas it can leak out it can also be turned into basically baking soda but the thing is the cost is so expensive so this technology is cern currently exists it's proprietary of private companies and they're using it to facilitate further oil extraction if civilization was serious about survival governments would seize or buy that technology make it open source and invest whatever was necessary to strip c o two out of the atmosphere artificially along with planting forests and cetera but you know that's something many environmentalists don't want to go there and it will come back to that thanks when we come back we'll hear more from christine prentice author of tropic of chaos.
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i. believe a fucking. great stand for the whole of the visit was put on a little bit of. the business of playing. with chris hedges. welcome back to on contact let's get back to our conversation with professor christian parenthetic author of tropic of chaos climate change and the new geography of violence if we don't respond rationally.
to climate change and to what's happening we already know we're already seeing what the world is going to look like you at the beginning of chapter four of your book ask the question if the imperial core of the world system is preparing to adapt to climate change by resort to military methods then what does incipit climate driven collapse in the global south look like how are the poor adapting how is the catastrophic convergence lived on the ground what are its textures and histories and you went to various places to expose that pattern the congo india afghanistan brazil tell us what it's going to look like well state failure is one of the hallmarks and part of why i wrote this book was because i didn't like
that whole discourse around state failure was dominated by the right and that the solution was always the same more militarism and and i felt that there had to be a progressive left critique of that so. you know it looks like sometimes bread riots and we saw that in the arab spring which happened just after the book was published where you know that food prices spike for the second time in a decade with basic grain prices because we should be a player that for every degree rise there is a ten percent drop in crop fields. yeah and so what happened there was you had the black sea drought in affecting the grain harvest in russia and ukraine kazakhstan this ripples through world markets bread bread prices spike in tunisia and egypt people are out in the street protesting this mahabharat state they live with the thirty years but it's also what you know about the price of bread and so that's one way that that environment that climate crisis appears it doesn't really
appear like climate crisis at first you have to sort of think about the interconnections to the world economy it can look like the increased violence in the cattle raids across the east africa where using the weaponry from flowing out of them all you know right now they're quite vicious i mean they will go in with a k forty seven and wipe out an entire clan and steal their cattle yeah and so this is you know an acceleration of what is a traditional pattern there but exacerbated by extreme drought punctuated by water . lack lack of water also the inability of a state due to neo liberal austerity to assist with you know introducing new types of animals or even drilling wells is actually a lot of water underneath the qana region where i was in afghanistan it looks like an increase in the poppy trade which then fuel zz the insurgency right the taliban
support the rights of the farmers to grow poppy the nato led occupation opposes it and at one level this is a war about ethnicity and religion and opposing foreign occupation but another level this is about farmers who are dealing with the worst drought in living memory which is occasionally punctuated by extreme flooding growing the only crop that they can under those conditions poppy happens to use about one fifth the one sixty amount of water that wheat and other traditional afghan crops use so farmers have to grow poppy if that is survive. which side in the conflict will help them be that the taliban so there are these subtle but important inner connections to ongoing conflicts in india the naxalites guerrilla movement maoist real movement that has been going for over forty years progress is with the drought district by district where there is drought then there are naxalites and the key thing there are the credit markets the state has withdrawn from the credit markets farmers have to go to money lenders the money lenders will only lend them money to grow cotton because
they can't eat cotton so the more the more money they borrow the worse the drought is the more cotton is produced the lower cotton prices go you have mass suicide and so you can imagine how if you're a farmer on the verge of drinking poison to kill yourself in the next let's come along and say hey look we have all the short term and long term solutions to problems the short term is when the money lender comes to town we stop his car and we kill him and then when the cops come we ambushed them in the long term is you know and we should be a greater but you know in india a quarter of a million farmers have committed suicide because they are for the reason you just pointed out i want to talk a little bit about failed states you invert faber in his great essay politics as a vocation and i think you have a kind of brilliant description of how a failed state will maintain the remnants of the state but of course they no longer function for a unified power for the common good there's a sort of there's
a mythology i'm sure you saw this many times reporter at there's a sort of myth ology of the central state that operates when the police stop you and demand some paperwork or whatever but really what it is there's no central database that there is right you just you describe the state as a ghost in essence that's right yeah. and or is like the twitching limbs severed from the spiders and i mean it's you know these these offices are used for basic survival you can hold up travellers and demand a fifty dollars one hundred dollars bribe from them in the name of you know some centralized state that didn't fact exist you know maybe ten twenty thirty years ago so yeah that's part of how states fails due to the corruption and the the reprivatize ation of the means of administration and the means of oppression and weber's argument is that you know the modern state is about detaching the
the leader of a bureaucracy from ownership of the bureaucracy and state failure begins with the sort of reprivatize zation of the bureaucracies particularly the repressive bureaucracies of the police in the military and in a place like afghanistan you know cops pay to have those jobs they pay the head cops and they they pay these do so that they can shake down traffic on the roads and that that's spreading all over the and they get in the bureaucratic structures of a failed state everything appears you're right it's uniforms insignia paperwork ministries and official dumb all exist but exist for the personal gain of whoever is wearing that uniform on you and i have both been shaken down by these figures i mean we're western reporters of course prime targets for those you know so if these failed states continue as they are already expanding they've expanded even
beyond what you chronicle your book one of the consequences for the global north and the global south. i mean you know one one consequence in the global south is i think it really curtails any kind of civilian politics at the possibility of a kind of a progressive civil left politics is curtailed in a world where drug addled teenagers run checkpoints that's you know so that's that's really important to keep in mind and the then immediate response in the west is to justify further military intervention which in almost every case is the the immediate cause or trigger state collapse even if there's you know older deeper problems that set it up and libya is a perfect example of you know the nato bombing campaign created that failed state yemen rak assistance since you feel so yeah yemen is said we feel safe half of syria is a failed state it's been u.s.
and western intervention has been pretty instrumental in a lot of that so then you know the great irony is that there's a further justification for an overdeveloped military and that's bad for democratic politics here and in the long run that won't work and the process of state failure spreads and spreads and what we see interest in response then also hardening of democratic regimes in the north we've got this kind of xena full of politics in the us southwest in response to the migration crisis that's happening in europe across the mediterranean we're in there's all sorts of great humanitarian progressive responses but there's also a very clear shift to the right and a hardening of states france has this state of emergency that still in effect you know right wing paul parties are are doing well across europe so there i think one of the great dangers of state failure in the global south is a kind of hardening in the short term as a hardening and a drift towards an increasingly authoritarian zina phone break quasi fascist kind
of politics in the global more developed states how is that going to affect. the but we're already seeing it in europe in terms of climate refugees what would do you how far away from what some people describe as kind of climate fortresses being built by industrialized nations. well i mean i don't know it depends what you mean at one level it's it's proceeding rapidly the the militarization of all of these borders in the balkans the beefing up front taxes policing of the mediterranean and the. yeah the whole internal politics of refugee detention made these countries we were were creeping their slowly but surely i mean they could get a lot worse and there's definitely a struggle over the meaning of this which is i think you know very important and
the great irony in the european situation is that europe is turning into a cherry actress or i mean demographically they actually need young people as well do not mind your article and stuff like americal out a million because who is going to build the cars yeah yeah so and in a way the right wing politics fits perfectly into that and you can have it both ways or in the best thing from the point of view of economic elites in many of these countries is to have immigrants but not let them have rights so this to keep their wages down and that's that's been the secret of of much of america's economic dynamism right i mean what is what is our agricultural sector right if not based on the tremendously hard work and skill of immigrants who are kept down and terrorize and therefore never one in millions or a bit up their wages for them there were african-americans who didn't have rights all of those people working in the produce fields at a certain point were block and then became mexican but what they had in common was they didn't have any rights. it's the point of book is not to say that all is lost
when there are clear solutions and there are movements that are trying to address these problems and. hopefully just want to make the the interconnections between human rights struggles around immigration and policing connect to struggles around the energy transformation all of that connect to struggles around basic questions of redistribution and taxation and fairness within. the economy as a whole and you tie it all together royally thank you that was christian parentally author of tropic of chaos climate change and the new geography of. corporations including the fossil fuel industry have seized control of the executive legislative and judicial branches of government these corporations and their lobbyist write laws and regulations that gut environmental controls and accelerate the exploitation and the release of carbon emissions they control what
is reported in the press and what is taught in public schools we will reverse this corporate coup d'etat by destroying the fossil fuel industry or the human species will face extinction the choice is that stark the only safe level of c o two emissions is zero and unless we take back our government which will only be achieved through acts of mass civil disobedience and sustained protests unless we impose such astronomical fines that the fossil fuel industry cannot remain profitable this great earth will become our help. thank you for watching you can find us on our t. dot com slash on contact see you next week.
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