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Whether you realize it or not, we are in a new age of imperial geopolitics on a grand — and potentially disastrous — scale. TomDispatch regular Alfred McCoy, author of In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power, lays out devastatingly just what that is likely to mean in the age of Donald Trump. And once you’ve read his piece on a century-plus of geopolitical thinkers who helped reorganize this planet in genuinely discordant ways, perhaps you’ll feel it’s time for us to imagine a new kind of geopolitics, one that finally addresses the disaster of empire and the ways in which such geopolitical thinking now intersects with another kind of disaster: climate change. For catastrophic as the previous versions of geopolitics may have been, just wait until such imperial and national follies, including the drive of China and India to build new coal plants galore, meet global warming. By this century’s end, that phenomenon may leave significant parts of the planet facing six nightmarish crises at once, ranging from mega-droughts and mega-fires to rising sea levels and catastrophic flooding. Or what about the possibility that intense heat waves (sparked in part by the massive burning of coal) will, later in this century, make the north China plain, now the most heavily populated part of that country, uninhabitable and do the same for parts of northern India and South Asia? Or what about the recent estimate in a congressionally mandated report on climate change (carefully released by the Trump administration on Black Friday in an attempt to bury it) that this country will also be deeply affected, as, for instance, wildfires of the kind that just devastated parts of California will triple, and the U.S. economy will be downsized by 10% or more by 2100?

We are now on a planet guaranteed, barring a miracle of coordinated human action, to find itself in a set of geo-ruins of an unprecedented sort by 2100, ruins that will remain so on a time scale anything but historical or in any way human. With that in mind, consider McCoy’s account of the “architects of imperial disaster” who got us to just this spot and to an American president whose goal in life is to do everything humanly possible to pump more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
 
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Donald Trump, Global Warming 
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  1. Giuseppe says:

    And once you’ve read his (McCoy’s) piece on a century-plus of geopolitical thinkers who helped reorganize this planet in genuinely discordant ways, perhaps you’ll feel it’s time for us to imagine a new kind of geopolitics, one that finally addresses the disaster of empire…

    On the other hand, Alfred McCoy (you have to go to TomDispatch to read his article) doesn’t appear to agree with Tom that the American Empire has been all that much of a disaster. He laments its demise. From his article:

    …each of President Trump’s overseas trips has been a mission of destruction in terms of American global power. Each, seemingly by design, disrupted and possibly damaged alliances that have been the foundation for Washington’s global power since the 1950s.

    But neither McCoy nor anybody else has made a strongly reasoned case for American global power, it is just assumed that it is desirable along vague, abstract lines. I usually look forward to reading McCoy, but lately he’s channeling so much Trump hatred (personally I’m not a fan) that it’s getting difficult these days to pick out the intellectual brilliance.

  2. anonymous[340] • Disclaimer says:

    “We are now on a planet guaranteed, barring a miracle of coordinated human action, ….”

    “Guaranteed”? Like when everyone froze in the dark back when the whale oil ran out?

    I guess he used to be an antiwar dissident. But Mr. Engelhardt* now seems dually exhausted by Donald Trump and Global Warming (or Climate Change, or whatever it’s to be called this month). High on his own fumes, a tool of his would be Coordinators of Human Action.

    ——–

    *I usually don’t read the work of the rotating “TomDispatch regulars” that Mr. Engelhardt gift wraps in these little teasers. But they, even alone, are an easy way to keep in touch with the NPR-NPC segment of the country.

    • Replies: @Per/Norway
  3. “… intersects with another kind of disaster: climate change.”

    Funny how he never touches on the positives of AGW, like the increase in plant life that will better sustain the population and the potential savings of millions of lives currently lost to cold-weather maladies and famine. If these nutcases ever succeed in large-scale SAI in a vain attempt to manage the climate, they might find they have created the mother of climate change disasters.

  4. The existential problem with lethal danger that grows exponentially, is that if you wait until you actually see it coming, then you’re already dead.

  5. By this century’s end, that phenomenon may leave significant parts of the planet facing six nightmarish crises at once, ranging from mega-droughts and mega-fires to rising sea levels and catastrophic flooding.

    i guess nobody’s buying the global warming anymore so they need to amp-up the rhetoric

    MEGA-DROUGHT!!!!!

    MEGA-FIRE!!!!!

  6. For decades coal was the fuel of choice in the United states for industry, schools, homes and transportation system. Probably in other parts of the world also. Growing up in the 1930s I saw black smoke pouring out of home and factory chimneys and the stacks of steam engines which roamed the nations rails by the thousands. In winter I marveled how the soot from these stacks and chimneys would blanket the white snow. Every town and city had rail sidings where the steam engines would deposit cars loaded with coal to be off-loaded onto trucks and conveyed to wherever needed. Factories of any size had sidings of their own. Somehow America survived that onslaught of carbon without any deleterious effect on the population as far as I can ascertain. As another poster has suggested, for mankind to tinker with reducing carbon by some means may actually cause more harm than good.

  7. Sean says:

    How can the US influence China and India to cease doing what they are doing? Clearly America can set a good example, but equally China and India could, and probably would, take the US’s moral suasion as an attempt to smother a vulnerable economy before it becomes a rival to the US’s. America is supposed to be responsible for China and India without any evidence that America can affect those countries. What does geopolitics have to do with the fact that America has to go along with the game other countries are playing and cannot impose a new one ( the current game started in the Bronze Age). Technology is advancing and America may be in a position to help with geoengineering solutions, if America keeps being America. The technological progress that every country especially China is going full tilt for could heal Gaia, losing control of the technology in the sense of it literally thinking for itself is the greatest danger.

  8. @anonymous

    agreed.
    (i have not commented enough the last 30 days to be allowed to use the agree button)

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