Yes, I called the Pentagon. I had just read an article in Fortune magazine which discussed a Pentagon report that predicted catastrophic climate change would
threaten national security soon. A couple of papers had done stories on the Fortune article, but I wanted to read the whole report, so I e-mailed the reporter
for Fortune and he gave me the name of the guy at the
Pentagon who‘d given him the report.
The voice mail for the Pentagon PR guy said he was in the field in Afghanistan and referred me to another staffer. What the heck, I thought, I followed the phone tree and left a message asking for the report.
Right away someone got back with me. No problem, I was told. The only thing is, said my Pentagon helper, the report is really long, it might not fit in that free
yahoo mailbox. But, no problem, the whole report is posted on the Greenpeace website, you can download it from there.
And sure enough, it was.
Who would‘ve thought that the Pentagon would be referring people to Greenpeace for information about national security?
And what does it mean that they are?
The 22-page report, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implication for United States National Security,“ was commissioned by long term Defense
Department advisor, Andrew Marshall, and authored by Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning for Royal Dutch Shell group, and Doug Randall of Global Business Network based in California.
Global warming should be treated as a security issue, said Schwartz and Randall, not a matter of scientific debate.
Within this decade, the authors project, average worldwide temperature will increase by a .5 degrees Fahrenheit, and by 2 degrees in hard-hit areas. Most
of North America, Europe and parts of South America will experience a 30% increase in the number of days with peak temperatures over 90 degrees F and there will be fewer and fewer days under freezing.
During this period, the optimistic authors forecast, erratic weather patterns will be mostly a nuisance. They give as an example French doctors who may now have to forgo their traditional month-long August holiday, since 15,000 French people died of heat related illness during 2002‘s European heat wave.
Towards the end of the decade the warming will speed, the report states. Trees will die, forest fires will rage and permafrost will melt. Severe storms will threaten islands. By 2005 (next year!) flooding risk will reach four times
2003 levels. In Holland, The Hague will become uninhabitable as the rising sea breaks levies. The world‘s fisheries will be disrupted as fish die or move to more suitable climates.
Then come the really major changes.
As melting glaciers continue to add cold, fresh water to the ocean, somewhere between 2010 and 2020 the ocean circulation pattern will change. This is called
the thermohaline collapse. This will cause an immediate shift in weather in northern Europe and eastern North America. The climate in these places will become Siberian in nature. There will be a decline in rainfall in key agricultural areas. The U.S. is not prepared for this, the authors note.
The report states that mega-droughts will begin in key regions of southern China and northern Europe around 2010 and last a decade. Traditionally dry places will face heavy rains. Cold air moving across Europe will create hard conditions for
Rising oceans will make many coastal cities uninhabitable. Tides of immigrants -- displaced by weather -- will crowd into the remaining livable places with fierce competition developing over water and food.
The U.S. turns inward, committing its resources to feeding its own population, shoring up its borders and managing global tension.
China experiences widespread starvation and looks
westward to Russia for energy.
Food crops are affected by changing temperature, water
stress, and shorter growing season leading to
catastrophic shortages of food and water.
Modern civilization is disrupted.
Poor countries blame the U.S. for its role in the mess. (The U.S. releases far more climate changing green house gas emissions than any other nation.)
Conflicts over resources lead to war.
The U.S. and Australia build defensive fortresses around their countries to hold back starving immigrants.
Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable.
Large population movements are inevitable and disruption and conflict become endemic features of life.
The question is not whether this will happen, says the report, but when it will happen and how to deal with it.
Schwartz and Randall recommend immediately identifying “no regrets strategies“ for how to provide food and water for everyone. They advise engaging in further study into how climate changes will affect local areas.
In the past few months Sir David King, chief scientist in Tony Blair‘s British government, and Hans Blix, who ran the United Nations inspection program in Iraq, have given speeches saying global warming is a bigger threat than terrorism. Swiss Re, the world‘s biggest re-insurance company, recently announced that our socio-economic system may not survive coming climate changes; and Canada‘s spy agency released a report on the need to prepare for massive climate-driven immigration.
While the Bush administration continues to deny global warming and pushes
fossil fuel use, the Pentagon, Greenpeace and others are trying to get the word out -- if we don‘t prepare to withstand climate change, and maybe even if we do, the carrying capacity of the world is in question.