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NASA climate change scientist exposes world leaders’ abdication of resposibility

Posted on 6 April 2012 | 1:04pm

I like the sound of this NASA scientist Prof Jim Hansen, who intends to use his acceptance speech for a major award on Tuesday to issue a fresh warning about man-made climate change.

It has been mind-boggling to witness the way that climate change denial has become a right-wing political virility symbol, like low taxes, high defence spending or a belief that private is always better than public. The difference with this particular piece of right-wing nonsense is the possible consequences include at best more and more ‘natural’ disasters, folllowed by promises to learn lessons ‘so it never happens again’, followed by not learning lessons so it all happens again, and at worst the end of the planet.

Prof Hansen compares the world’s failure to face up to this now with a previous generation’s acceptance of slavery. We look back now and wonder how people could have treated their fellow human beings so badly. And the science is there to tell us one day future generations will look back at ours – assuming the earth is still with us – and ask why we failed to act when we knew that we should? ‘We can only pretend we don’t know because the science is crystal clear,’ he says.

He intends to set out the facts that show that the current approaches to CO2 reductions aren’t working. indeed, even if the world had delivered on previous agreements like Kyoto -which it hasn’t – he reckons we would still be on the brink of an emergency.

I noticed that among the Tory donors who had been for dinner with David Cameron in Downing Street were funders of climate change denial campaigns. I am not suggesting a direct link, but I do find it odd that Mr Cameron, for whom green credentials were such an important part of the so-called detoxification of the Tory brand, has gone so quiet on the subject. Nor have Chris Huhne when he was Climate Change Secretary, nor Ed Davey now, given any real sense of the urgency required.

One government can only do so much. The kind of challenge set out by Prof Hansen will require all governments to show leadership currently lacking not just in ours, but in most of them. Not long ago, this was one of THE issues dominating the agenda of leaders around the world. It is as though they have just decided the problem is too big to be tackled. Professor Hansen’s speech deserves to be heard by all of them, to remind them of the abdication of responsibility this troubling silence among many world leaders represents.

  • Anthony Byrne

    Its a very good point… You just don’t see the topic of climate change in the first half of any newspaper these days. I guess our leaders are more focused on Economics – (and the populist agenda which might be a better bet in terms of re-election).


  • reaguns

    So low tax and high defence spending is both:
    (a) right wing
    (b) nonsense

    This is the sort of thing that cost labour so many elections. My parents were and are labour voters but in the 80s when labour wanted to get rid of nuclear weapons (at the height of the cold war… you know… the thing we needed them for…) and surrender on the falklands and so on, they couldn’t vote for them. (They didn’t vote for Maggie either.)

    What is right wing about wanting poor people not to pay any income tax at all?

    I agree with you that private is certainly not always better than public.
    I would actually like a government bank, and an additional government pension (in addition to the state one) ie one that I could invest in and trust them more than a private pension firm.

    This is all very ironic of course, because the only way to actually achieve climate targets will be through defence spending! Only when the environmentalists have more guns than the deniers, will there be any move on climate change. WW3 could well be about climate change – when resources and hospitable lands become scare we will not have a UN summit to discuss divvying them up – we will have a war and those with the guns will take the spoils, as has always been the case. Believe otherwise and you are a sentimental fool.

  • reaguns

    Also nice comparison to slavery – who ended slavery? How was slavery ended? Through force of arms and the leadership of one of Alastair’s professed heroes, Abraham Lincoln. Hence the Republican Party is the one who wear the moniker “The Swords Of Liberty.”

    Lincoln: “How will we end slavery?”
    Spad: “I think we should get a lot of hippies to protest about it, we should get George Monbiot Sr onside, and perhaps have a big happy clappy G20 meeting about it?”
    Lincoln: “No I think we’ll shoot at the slave owners until they stop.”
    Spad: “I guess it worked pretty well with the Barbary pirates.”

  • Ehtch

    Maybe right-wingers, as in beat me-whip me-call me names type of mashochistic closed door mentality, doesn’t mind that things will go bananas due to the over population of one species of Earth, namely us lot. Quite frightening when thought about, but does leave you questioning youself – “where are we going?”. Irrational arguments and, can’t remember the word, peculiar concepts-like, as money, don’t come into the equation at the end of the day, for man.

    Is there a future way? Who knows, but seven bill of a species on our planet hopes so, and I do not mean earthworms.

  • Michele

    He did a brilliant and very long Q&A session a year or so ago, he was seated and sounded quite like a Chicago gangster.  I sent it to my sprog in hopes he’d listen for the sake of his own as yet unborn …..

    This isn’t that vid, in this he’s so sad about the malevolent forces that gang up to rubbish the science and the horrible spite (such as what occurred re UEA carelessness a little while ago).

  • Michele

     Was slavery only ended in America?

    Feel free to edit any of it

  • Michele

    ……………………” I agree with you that private is certainly not always better than public.  I would actually like a government bank, and an additional government pension (in addition to the state one)” ……………..
    There used to be just such a scheme, SERPS, introduced late 70s under a Labour govt.

    ………………….. “those with the guns will take the spoils, as has always been the case. Believe otherwise and you are a sentimental fool.”………….
    Stop taking the steroids fgs.

  • Gilliebc

    AC,  man made climate change in my opinion and many others too, is not a matter of right v left.  It is a matter of common sense.  This planet earth has been changing since the year dot.  e.g. did the dinosaurs become extinct because of man made climate change? 
    Obviously not.
    So called man made climate change is yet another money-making scam inflicted upon the ordinary people to screw every last penny out of them. No more, no less.

  • Anonymous

    You any more holidays coming up? Lol.

    Wasn’t it obvious that Lincoln ended slavery in America? Where is the implication he ended it anywhere else?

    I bet Lincoln would be against Workfare though. “If slavery is not wrong – nothing is wrong” Lincoln.

  • Anonymous

    You can ignore the role of guns, or of power in world affairs, but the fact is that this has been the dominating factor in all world events and will continue to be so.

    People will not die of climate change, they may die from wars caused by climate change though.

    Hence if climate change is not real – then we should focus on war and disease as these are the things that will kill us.

    If climate change is real (and I think it is by the way) then we should focus on our military defences and alliances even more so, a hungry/thirsty/overheated China will respond not to good intentions but to power. It was ever thus. Find me any student of geopolitics who disagrees.

  • Clawrence

    The media play a role here too. Many lead media have virtually stopped following the topic of climate change, which at the 2011 WEF survey amongst world leaders ranked as one of the top threats to the world. The media ask companies and governments for sustainable strategies, but they themselves have given much more print space to the financial crisis lately. The financial crisis, while painful, can be solved without truely lasting damage, whereas climate change, and its twin demographic change, will likely not be reversible. If the media stop following these topics those who offer solutions like Munich Re (I work for that firm) will not find enough attention for their efforts in the public.

  • Libdem

    Climate change currently is hardly likely to be the number one topic of choice unless you want to avoid discussing the economy. The economy has to be sorted as we actually have some control over it if we want. 
    The UK has absolutely no control over the climate change issue and we never will whilst national interests apparently rule the roost. Without international co-operation, this is going the same way as unilateral nuclear disarmament – it won’t happen.

  • Chris lancashire

    Only you could manage to find a link between climate change and Tory donors. Magnificent work Mr Campbell!

  • Dave Simons

    Surely the independent nuclear deterrent during the Cold War was a joke at the expense of the taxpayer? All it did was make the UK an easy target. The UK’s threat to the USSR was always minimal and more of a posture by an ex-imperial power whose rulers were still stuck in an imperial mind-set. It’s a bit like that now. At the 2010 General Election Conservatives loved to quote Adam Smith as saying, ‘The first duty of any government is defence of its people’. The implied sequel to that is the necessity of having an independent nuclear deterrent. But that must apply to all governments, not just the UK government. Therefore if one government has a nuclear deterrent, all governments are entitled to have the same – not just Israel but Iran. Therefore the Adam Smith quote is an argument for nuclear proliferation, which I’m sure the Conservatives don’t want, let alone anyone else. Policy on nuclear weapons has never been logical, more driven by gut reaction and by the visionless cynicism of power elites and their academic toadies. It’s a pity people like your parents fall for it.

  • Olli Issakainen

    Real world leaders.
    People often think that ONLY politicians have power. This, of course, is not the case.
    A good example is the eurozone crisis of 2011.
    2011 seemed to be like one long EU summit. You heard enough of Merkel, Sarkozy, Papandreou & Co.
    But nothing about Josef Ackermann and Charles Dallara who were really running the show.
    Mr Ackermann is the head of Rothschild-controlled Deutsche Bank, and sits on the steering committee of Bilderberg Group (Rockefellers, Rothschilds).
    Charles Dallara is MD of Institute of International Finance (IIF). He previously worked for the Rothschild-controlled JP Morgan, and is a member of Rockefeller-funded Council on Foreign Relations.
    IIF is a global association of financial institutions.
    Its board is made of people from Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, BNY Mellon, BNP Paribas, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Credit Suisse, ING Group, UBS, Mitsubishi UFJ and Societe Generale.
    All these companies are controlled by the Rothschilds.
    Messrs Ackermann and Dallara were calling the shots in the euro negotiations. They decided the fate of Greece.
    IIF is a lobby of 450 biggest banks in the world with Barclays, RBS and Lloyds also as members. It has unique access to EU leaders and IMF.
    The Greek argeement was brilliant for bankers. Bankers OVERPOWERED even the strongest politicians in Europe.
    Nothing of this was, of course, mentioned in the mainstream media controlled by the elite.
    Governments across the west are controlled by bankers.
    Globalist bankers are also behind the idea of “man-made climate change”. They make a lot of money out of this idea.
    Bankers use climate change to promote their idea of “global governance” together with the United Nations.
    Bankers also own the scientific journals publishing details of climate change.
    Bankers control the minds of people in the west. You will not hear a word about the coming Bilderberg meeting in Haifa, Israel – to be held at Hotel Rothschild!
    Yet according to former NATO chief and Bilderberg member Willy Claes Bilderberg Group sets global policy.
    It is nothing new that bankers rule.
    Harold Wilson (Bilberberg) was a close friend of Victor Rothschild. Edward Heath (Bilderberg, Trilateral) made him a head of the policy unit.
    Roy Jenkins (Bilderberg, Tritaleral), James Callaghan (Bilderberg, Chatham House) and Denis Healey (Bilderberg, Trilateral) were also  close to the bankers.
    Victor Rothschild, by the way, was a member of Marxist Cambridge Apostoles, and a friend of Burgess, Blunt and Kim Philby.
    We have an invisible government which also controls our minds. Before reaching any conclusions about climate change, we should be aware of all this. 

  • Michele

     What a peculiar interpretation you put on a short post, it makes me suspect your understandings of so much more you have read and declare muchly about.

    There is not the merest hint that I think Lincoln stopped slavery anywhere else, especially as the many other stoppages occurred both before and after his lifetime.  Point is, silly billy, that there were many other MOs than violence.  Got that?

    I doubt Lincoln would be silly enough (hush mah mouth am I approaching an accusation of stupidity such as those you have been slinging far and wide at fellow posterS this week?)  to suggest workfare is anything like slavery. 

    Sort out your use of our words, they are not yours to screw up the meanings of.  Workfare is not fair as it gives the employer a bigger advantage than the claimant (it’s also another screw-up of English – OUR benefits system is gradually being described far and wide as welfare, I wonder when we will capitulate completely to American as IT is spoke?).

  • Michele

    Isn’t it more about science and facts than about hope?

    I’m not a scientist but I know that in just the past 20yrs places have become healthier and more pleasant to visit (never mind live in).

    Without pressure from climate lobbies would big industry have needed to improve even car engines in the ways they have so that our air doesn’t sink like a grey blanket any more?
    Are you not old enough to know how the air has improved in UK since the changes to household fuels?  My grandparents received incentives to change from coal to gas heating in the 60s, they lived in a high part of Leeds and had been surrounded by the blanket. 
    Have all those cooling stations really been blown up for no reason?

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough, I accept that slavery has been ended in other places through other means. I don’t think that way contains as much justice as shooting the slave owners personally though – slave owners deserve to die.

    Re workfare we’ve done this one to death a few weeks back. I am against forced labour, I believe slavery is forced labour. The only thing that has changed for me is that I had been extremely disappointed to find no right wing “libertarians” opposed to workfare. All the supposed tory libertarians were quiet, it seems putting the boot in the poor or the “scroungers” was just too tasty for them to continue their pretence of belief in liberty. Likewise UKIP proved that its detractors not its supporters are correct. “Free market” is just a veneer for them.

    However I have finally found one right winger opposed to workfare – Sam Bowman of the ASI.

    The left (not the labour left) but the left commentariat have been much more robust in attacking workfare. So perhaps we know who the real libertarians are now.

  • Anonymous

    Big topic Dave, and I don’t have the eloquence to explain it in a short post here perhaps, but like Tony Blair I don’t believe either position is a joke (ie for or against UK retaining and independent deterrent.)

    I have always believed that the first duty of a government is to defend its people, both from external and internal threats. (I would have been for shooting drug dealers and muggers on the streets of the uk rather than shooting soldiers in Iraq.)

    However I don’t think it follows that every country should have a nuclear deterrent, though I respect the logic of your argument.I think another way to look at it is that in some cases the government would be better served by giving up its nuclear deterrent in order to defend its people, this may be the case with Iran, and could have been argued to be the case with the UK vs the Soviet Union.

    On that:1. Its for certain that there is no way the UK (or anyone bar America) could have fought an independent war or represent an independent threat against the USSR, if it came to all out war they would have crushed us within a couple of days, conventional or nukes.

    2. That does not mean there are no reasons for having a nuclear deterrent. Economist, biologists and nuclear strategists have a concept called “rational insanity” or “logical insanity”. Longer explanation required but basically a predator is less likely to attack a country that is mad enough to strike back, even if its own security is lost.

    3. We could not have wiped out Russia, they could have wiped us out. However I think it was estimated we could take out their top 30 cities. Provided we could take out enough of the elite and high command in Moscow with a couple of well aimed nukes, this should be the same disincentive to them as if we could take out the whole country (leaders never care about the rest of the people anyway.)

    4. This is usually where the disagreement lies – even if there was no possible way for us to defend ourselves, win, or deter them – to people minded like me (of which there are a lot) it is still essential to retain second strike capability. The ability so that even if Russia vaporized the UK, a couple of our subs would pop up in the middle of the ocean and take out as much of Russia and Moscow as they could for the sheer purpose of revenge, that much overlooked but essential purpose. This alone will always persuade me to vote for any party who supports nukes, and against any who doesn’t.

    5. We currently pay into the EU for not much benefit. We don’t pay into America, even though our real defence and deterrent is provided by them (because they actually can vaporize every last blade of Russian grass.) This is unfair. Every nation in the free world should either pay taxes to America – or… do as we do, and as everyone in Nato is supposed to do, take our share of the responsibility for defence ie by providing whatever soldiers, tanks, and yes nukes that are deemed appropriate by Nato.

  • Gilliebc

    You make some good and valid points Michele, about air quality in particular.

    However, I do genuinely believe that having discovered this money-making bandwagon/gravy train, there are too many people perverting and exagerating the so-called scientific ‘facts’

    Some (not all) scientists are a bit like so-called expert witnesses called to give evidence in a court of law, in that they are happy to make the ‘facts’ fit the case for whichever side is paying them!

    I suspect the ‘truth’ is somewhere in the middle of the two extremes.

  • Anonymous

    There will never be unilateral nuclear disarmament. The baddies (whoever you deem them to be) will always want to bully the others with nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented.

    All we can hope for is that some day nuclear defences become feasible, but that would mean that countries with small armies who rely on nukes for defence (UK, Israel and in this context even US) will be much more vulnerable.

    I don’t think viable missile defences are likely to arrive for some time. Remember people, even Thatcher, thought Reagan was mad to spend money on SDI (Star Wars.) The Soviets didn’t agree though, its well known it forced their hand in negotiations. Likewise they make a big play about missile defence in Poland and Czech Republic even though they concede that they could easily overwhelm such a defence.

  • Gilliebc

    If this Prof Hansen reckons that current approaches to CO2 reductions aren’t working, even if agreements like Kyoto had delivered, it will be interesting to hear what other suggestions
    he may or may not come up with

    A return to the horse and cart perhaps.  Although horses produce CO2 in great quantities, so I’m given to understand.  So for us lesser mortals it will no doubt be a return to shankses pony!  Oh, hang on a minute, humans also produce CO2  (don’t they?)  So, if we were to follow the aforementioned ‘logic’ the only answer to save the planet will be a mass cull of the earth’s population. I could well be jumping to conclusions here, but AGW is mainly an idea dreamt-up by the communist/fascist totalitarian, non-elected leaders of the European Union.  Is it not?

  • Michele

     Many many many people are opposed to workfare/workfair whatever it’s actually called.

    I think comparing it to slavery weakens the argument, gives its supporters (and some of its opponents such as myself) reason to think of such opposers as hysterical.

    If it really is akin to slavery IYO will you be suggesting its supporters get shot?

    TiC, have a good rest of weekend 🙂

  • Ehtch

    Anyone seen the vid made by that fella that stopped the boat race yesterday, at some conference in europe somewhere a few months ago? What he did was obviously a protest, on the way cities are these days, and I suppose London was the point he was making yesterday.

    He makes some interesting points here, but I hope it doesn’t become a fashion, or major sports events will become a joke when some geezer wants to protest on something or other, especially with what is going on from late July this summer. Trenton Oldfield at vid here,

    And by the way, I thought it was hilarious, because sport is a pastime, it is not life. Though yes, I feel for the two crews yesterday, but there will be other days again for them. And I think they should have restarted the race again after that clash – the Oxford cox was right in her saying it was because of the wash which caused it, making it difficult to control their boats, with the wash caused by all those hangers-on launches that follow it, when they returned to the halfway mark, which hadn’t settled down yet.

  • Ehtch

    …ahh yes, that’s the word, abstract concepts, as in money, which could very well be well down the list of importance one day in the future, if things go out of control by some event, man-made or not.

  • Ehtch

    To say the bleeding obvious, Alastair, your mate Alex must be well made up, crack a cork out of a fine wine time no doubt – eight points ahead, with only a few furlongs to go.

    Looking forward to Scarlets vee Brive in La France on live S4Cwelsh free telly this evening. Yes, decided not to travel myself. Song for Brive, for a charm offensive before, supertitious tends to work, more does than not, off to youtubby to search…

    found one that might do it/on a trouvé qui pourrait à elle,

    Il et easy, when vous knows where to regarder avec des yeux.

  • Libdem

    I agree reaguns, nuclear weapons cannot be disinvented and it is virtually impossible to prevent the spread given the desire of non-nuclear states to join the ‘club’.

    My point about unilateral nuclear disarmament was that for the UK to believe it can unilaterally effect climate change is pointless. The UK is so insignificant in this that the only thing we can do is talk.

  • Janiete

    I think most readers could easily make the connection for themselves, but for you unbelievers, here’s some evidence:

  • reaguns

    Well we’ve done this one, I think mandatory workfare is forced labour and forced labour is slavery, paid workfare is nicer slavery than leg iron slavery, but still slavery. And you disagree I know. 🙂

    I wouldn’t go as far as suggesting supporters of workfare are shot, I believe in democracy so they should be allowed to argue their case. But I also believe in individual liberty and the right of a person to bear arms and defend themselves, so whenever the workfare nazis come to try and put the workfare slave in the van I believe he should have the right to shoot that nazi yes. And no I don’t think nazi is too strong a term. Forced labour has been a fixture of every failed communist, fascist, nazi, authoritarian socialist regime.

  • Miche

    You make some very inappropriate comparisons from history and dilute the strength of your opinions.
    If you can’t describe the experiences of those subjected to workfare without comparing them to the most dire examples of violent discrimination (based on victims’ colour or religion) there’s something wrong.

  • Miche;e

     People will continue dying from climate change, those who’re dependent on their own patch of land to grow their food, those on the edges of low-lying and already-poor countries such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, Pakistan.

    When a country is so hungry for oil that it allows removal of it from a mile down (there’s so far only one in the world that does)  it’s really time for countries to unite to control matters.  No economics-based response needed, try one based on geology and the reasons to hope that the resultant man-made underwater caverns will not have impacts.

    It’s also wrong to portray China as the world’s No1 baddie.  They’re coming out of decades of poverty and starvation and know only too well that their new prosperity comes from their being the world’s supplier (and dependent on, enjoying that income).  They’re aware that most of their introductions happened through Hong Kong; well done them for making the most of it.

  • Michele

    Given all the claims made by the Sham in the past five years re his ‘passion’ about green issues do you suppose there are many from that lobby that would have dreamed of spending (apparently unnecessarily) on dinner?

    ………………………… “Mr Cruddas quit on Saturday after the Sunday Times published secret
    recordings in which he urged undercover reporters to give more than
    £250,000 in return for direct face time with senior ministers.”…………………..

  • reaguns

    Yep, it’d be like Gibraltar agreeing not to piss into the mediterranean while Spain, Morocco, Italy and everyone else in the region keep on doing it. We shouldn’t even be involved in the debate except to say we’ll match whatever pollution rate china and america come up with, when they come up with it. Till then we are just murdering pensioners for no reason.

    Your boy Chris Huhne has a lot to answer for! I think he might be my least favourite politician (since George Bush and Gordon Brown anyway.)

  • reaguns

    Post vortex, reply at top.

  • reaguns

    Michelle re workfare and comparisons, to me its merely a matter of degree like that anecdote from (I think) George Bernard Shaw, I’m sure you know the one, where he says to the woman “Would you sleep with me for a million pounds?” and she says “For a million pounds yes I suppose I would” then he says “Would you sleep with me for one hundred pounds?” And she says “What do you think I am, a prostitute?” And he says “We have already established what you are madam, now I am merely haggling the price.”

    Both are prostitution.

    And all forms of forced labour are slavery.

  • Alungriffiths

    I agree, neither did Labour do much to force the hand on climate change or ecological genocide. There might be some ideas in this article that your readers could inspire from …”England born, France
    Resident, Institut d’Etudes Politiques Lecturer, Welsh Political
    Economist exposes Wales Labour Government in mismanagement of Wales’s

    “But let’s give credit where credit is due, The Welsh Assembly is
    the only national government in the world to use the footprint as an
    indicator of progress for its overarching Sustainable Development
    Scheme, Learning to Live Differently. Moreover there is currently
    consultation on a Natural Environment Framework which follows on from
    similar crucial work happening internationally like The Economics of
    Ecosystems and Biodiversity project. The Welsh Government
    consultation “aims to increase our understanding of the value of our
    environment and how it contributes to our well-being. This will help us
    make better informed, long term decisions for the future of Wales.” If only we could act on those decisions with the appropriate powers.” mail any comments to me as well, link at bottom as i very rarely pass by here, thanks Alun

  • Libdem

    I think ‘my lot’ not just Huhne have a lot to answer for. I reckon the reason the overseas aid budget is fixed against all logic is because of us. Plus the ‘green’ agenda is surely going to make us all poorer but we can blame the EU so that’s alright!
    I sympathise with Bush as in some cases he didn’t have too many options…Gordon Brown on the other hand well, enough said!

  • Ehtch

    The welsh rugger lads that have or now doing in La France really really enjoy themselves there, cooking with fine olive oil and red wine with quality butter. Like France I do too,

    Ce la vie, dyna mae e mynd, that is life.

  • Michele

    Am not sure how workfare found its way on to this topic too … nor how we happen to have read the same anecdote recently (the woman should have just asked if he thought she was cheap!)

    Anyway, you might like this feature, its author also thinks slavery is kind-of OK to use as a vague comparitor (although seems absolutely against the stupidity of using term ‘Nazism’)

  • reaguns

    Thanks Michele that’s a brilliant article. Props too, because I think it reinforces my argument more than yours, or maybe we can compromise on agreeing with the conclusions of the author. Its a very well researched and argued piece I must say.

  • reaguns

    I find it difficult to sympathise with Brown or Bush! Well I suppose they were dumped with a GFC and in Bush case 9/11. I can blame them for the response, but acknowledge they were both very unlucky to be landed with those crises. Huhne on the other hand, I disagree with his green policy, but mainly its the smugness I hate.

  • reaguns

    I am sceptical of how much global agreement there will ever be (how do we make China, Russia or America to agree if they decide not to?)

    But in a way I am glad because anything that moves us toward a one world government frightens the life out of me much more than climate change, and maybe almost as much as nuclear armageddon.

    You are right about China, for now at least. It is what may happen under certain economic and nationalistic pressures that we worry. I think its a case of hope for the best (that it stays friendly, maybe even becomes a democracy, applies its human capital to science, curing disease and so forth) but prepare for the worst, ie make sure we have the power to defend ourselves if it doesn’t turn out that way.