Marooned flood victims looking to escape grab the side bars of a hovering Army helicopter which arrived to distribute food supplies. Reuters via

By Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, On Faith
August 14, 2010; 4:20 PM ET

Russia is on fire, and Pakistan is under water. Scientific studies have not convinced the climate change-deniers to act to save the planet. Perhaps an imaginative game change is what is called for. "Global weirding" is one such imaginative breakthrough, but let's not rule out the fire and flood imagery of Armageddon, especially as apocalyptic imagery can well symbolize the mounting security threat nations face because of the social, political and economic chaos of accelerating climate change.

The Center for a New American Security has posted a link to a Pentagon report that says, in part, that new patterns in the weather "may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world." This is certainly the case in a place like Pakistan, where, as Richard Holbrooke, the United States Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, argues, this catastrophe "is not just another flood in Asia, a headline which doesn't get much attention here. This is the worst floods, monsoon floods in Pakistan's history since well before independence. 1926 was the last thing this size. Secondly, it looks like the area affected has at least 14 million to 20 million people in it. So far the death, that's far more than the tsunami and Haiti combined." It is huge problem from a security standpoint, to summarize this interview with Holbrooke, because it is politically, economically and militarily destabilizing. It is critial to see that the magnitude of these climate events and the resulting social, political and economic chaos is exactly the climate in which violent extremist groups such as the Taliban or Al Qaeda thrive.

The scope of the world-wide instability that rapid global climate change is starting to precipitate is not conveyed in the term "global warming." "Global warming" has proven to be a failure as the primary description for what is happening to the planet through climate change. It doesn't compute for people. "Global weirding" is a much better term because it begins to get at the fundamentally chaotic nature of what is happening. I'm glad to see the term "global weirding" is catching on, and being used for this, the hottest summer

This winter, I wrote "Snowmageddon a sign of global weirding" for "On Faith." I firmly believe we need to give up on the nice-sounding, gentle-seeming, bathing-suit wearing weather kind of language that "global warming" implies, and get to the weirdness of it all. In that post, I wrote about the "sin" of climate change deniers, digging out from under such weird, weird weather and still refusing to connect the dots on climate change.

Pathetically Incorrect!” railed the conservative blogs. "Global Warming Snow Job" bellowed the Washington Times.

“Global weirding” hits a conservative nerve in the way that "global warming" never has and never will. Every time the weather is not sweltering, the climate change denier will find it easy to connect with people's personal experience of the weather. Even so, while 2010 is "on track" to be the hottest on record according to climate scientists, this has not produced the change of heart and mind needed to convince conservatives to act to avert even more global environmental catastrophes. And these fires and floods are evidence of a global environmental catastrophe. …

Environmental apocalypse: fire and flood


  1. MikeB said...

    "Act to save the planet?"

    That's a laugh!

    It's too late. It was too late twenty-five years ago.  


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