The suffocating dome of heat that has settled on America appears to have addled some minds over at the United Nations.
They're thinking about creating climate cops.
Suzanne Goldenberg, environmental correspondent for guardian.co.uk, last week reported talk "… of a new environmental peacekeeping force — green helmets — which could step into conflicts caused by shrinking resources." U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is expected to address the Security Council on Wednesday about expanding the United Nations' peacekeeping mission to "keep peace in an era of climate change," she wrote.
Exactly what such a military force would do to keep the peace among nations squabbling over rising sea levels, global warming and other environmental ruinations is vague; it hasn't been discussed anywhere that I can find. The imagination runs wild at the possibilities.
Wednesday's meeting comes at the behest of Germany, which wants the council to adopt climate change as a "key area of concern." Germany's U.N. ambassador, Peter Wittig, wrote in HuffPostGreen that climate change will have a "serious impact on international peace and security." Fights could erupt over population resettlements caused by rising sea levels and over the scarcity of fresh water and other "basic resources," he said.
No country will go "unscathed," and only the U.N. has the "legitimacy and responsibility" to intervene, Wittig said. Views on how to do it vary, he noted, pointing out that some "governments — in allusion to the 'blue-helmet' U.N. peacekeepers — are already calling for 'green helmets to close down coal mines.' "
Wittig's purpose is to push the Security Council to put climate change on its agenda to be ready when the first crisis materializes. The green cops presumably would come later. Marcus Stephen, president of Nauru, a small island in Micronesia in the South Pacific that supposedly could be inundated by rising seawaters, agrees that the topic should at least be on the agenda. "The Security Council should join the General Assembly in recognizing climate change as a threat to international peace and security. It is a threat as great as nuclear proliferation or global terrorism."
The Obama administration's position might be summed up by a statement that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice recently made to the council. "(By the) refusal of a few to accept our responsibilities, this council is saying by its silence, 'tough luck.' " She called inaction "shortsighted," "pathetic" and a "dereliction of duty."
If this whole idea turns out to be as effective as many previous U.N. peacekeeping efforts, such as its impotence during the 1994 genocide of an estimated 800,000 people in the East African nation of Rwanda, then we should have no fear of U.N. green cops.
The first mention of a U.N. environmental peacekeeping force appears to have been raised in the 1990s, but it receded into hiding, like the virus that occasionally breaks out into a fever blister at just the wrong time. Except those toying with the idea of green cops might figure that this is exactly the right time — when the U.N.'s host nation (that would be us) is suffering under horrible weather extremes. Some climate change alarmists insist that the heat domes and blizzards are "evidence" of manmade climate change, although serious scientists warn that you can't make that conclusion.
No need to worry about an invasion of U.N. black helicopters — as conspiracy crackpots would have it. While accomplishing some good things, when weighed against its lofty goals, the international body is toothless. Mostly it exists to pass resolutions expressing alarm and deploring violence. Its bureaucracy grinds out reams of guidances, proposals and silly ideas that are read by, well, other bureaucrats.
The recent "Report of the secretary-general on the modalities for the establishment of specialized Somali anti-piracy courts" I'm sure has all those buccaneers shaking in their boots.
The job of folks like Rice, Wittig and others is to conjure up the worst possible scenarios, and in this they're doing a great job, along with journalists who think their job is to conjure up the worst possible scenarios. But as scary a scenario as U.N. green cops might be, you can rest easy. By the time it is filtered through the U.N. sieve, it'll be little more than a bunch of green helmets.
This column also appear in the Chicago Tribune