Picture of Washington State was taken yesterday during a flight from Seattle to Detroit.
This picture of the Cascades was taken yesterday from a plane flying out of Sea-Tac. Mark Reddington/LMN Architects

In 2008, the American economist James K. Galbraith described in his book The Predator State how the function of the economist in the near future will be like that of the economist during World War II—that being to plan and manage an economy that's hugely mobilized to face or overcome a great adversary. Other humans in Germany and Japan were the enemy in World War II. In the future, the adversary will be human-induced climate change.

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Galbraith wrote: "Unraveling fifty years of burning [fossil fuels] will require economic transformation on a similar scale [to WWII]." The wildfires happening in Central Washington, which even President Obama knows are not unrelated to global warming, are giving us a view of World War CC. There are 1,200 civilians fighting the wildfires, but also 1,800 soldiers in this state alone. They are dropping water instead of bombs. In fact, NBC's news report from "the front lines" (Chelan, Washington) described the command post as a military base and the fight against the fires as a war.

This militaristic language is not accidental but historical. As the market has failed to do anything meaningful about what the cultural theorist McKenzie Wark calls "the carbon liberation front," and as the situation becomes a graver and graver emergency, the state will have to translate the ecological disaster and a course of action into the military terms it best understands. It's sad to say this, but only war gives the state enough power to totally displace market dictates and discourses.

Seattle has front-row seats to the future.

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