Patrick C. Doherty, writing at TomPaine.com, summarizes the real global threats facing the U.S. these days: climate change, the U.S. fiscal imbalance, a predicted oil price "superspike," and massive resource scarcity on a global scale.
The scary thing is that none of these issues is at the top of the agenda for Republicans or Democrats right now. Our lawmakers are squabbling about a faux Social Security "crisis" and possible terrorist threats while the biggest risks to our future security go unaddressed.
Doherty points out how the big threats could combine to hit us hard:
Complexly intertwined, these four issues are the real threat facing the republic. Experts like Robert Rubin and Stephen Roach have made it clear that a severe shock in the midst of today's fiscal imbalance would trigger an economic chain reaction. The oil superspike could—by hitting American pocketbooks—trigger a drop in consumer spending. This in turn would spark a chain of events resulting in a severe recession with job losses, a stock market crash and widespread defaulting on consumer debt. The United Nations was clear that rapid and severe ecosystem changes could disrupt food production. Overseas, that means regional warfare over arable land and water supplies; in the United States, food prices would skyrocket. Complicating matters, our massive deficit and recent history of fiscal irresponsibility will mean little appetite for new American debt, tying the government's hands.
That scenario might make for a thrilling apocalyptic screenplay, but it's not one you would want to experience first hand.
Terrorist attacks are symptoms of greater problems. If we keep playing a global game of King of the Hill, with the U.S. on top of the resource-grabbing heap, the terrorist potshots will only escalate. If we start working for global change and sustainability, though, the incentive to attack will decrease.
Is there any way to move toward this agenda in the U.S. without a catastrophic event or two as a catalyst? Not with the current lawmakers, I'm afraid.