Pentagon Worst Case Study
Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us
· Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
· Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
· Threat to the world is greater than terrorism
Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004
Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, warns that major European cities will be sunk beneath rising seas as Britain is plunged into a 'Siberian' climate by 2020. Nuclear conflict, mega-droughts, famine and widespread rioting will erupt across the world.
The document predicts that abrupt climate change could bring the planet to the edge of anarchy as countries develop a nuclear threat to defend and secure dwindling food, water and energy supplies. The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents.
'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.'
The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority.
The report was commissioned by influential Pentagon defence adviser Andrew Marshall, who has held considerable sway on US military thinking over the past three decades. He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.
An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.
Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.
Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change.
A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch.
One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible.
Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change.
Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office - and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism - said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.'
Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored.
'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. Its hugely embarrassing. After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson.
'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace.
Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated.
Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.'
Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said.
'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.'
So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign.
The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence.
Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.'
Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added.
Climate change http://observer.guardian.co.uk/Guardian/climatechange/0,12374,782494,00.html
Guide to drilling for oil in the Arctic http://observer.guardian.co.uk/Guardian/flash/0,5860,534962,00.html
Calculate your personal carbon count http://www.bestfootforward.com/carbonlife.htm
The Kyoto protocol http://www.unfccc.de/resource/docs/convkp/kpeng.html
Bjorn Lomborg: Are we doing the right thing? http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-files/Guardian/documents/2001/08/14/warming.pdf
UN framework convention on climate change http://www.unfccc.de/
Friends of the earth http://www.foe.org
DRAMATIC CLIMATE CHANGE COULD BECOME GLOBAL SECURITY NIGHTMARE By Seth Borenstein Knight Ridder Newspapers February 23, 2004
WASHINGTON - A dramatic climate change could suddenly become a global security nightmare, warns a worst-case scenario assembled by professional futurists at the behest of the Pentagon.
In a report released to Knight Ridder on Monday, they write that while a drastic climate change is unlikely, it "would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately." The "plausible" consequences include famine in Europe and nuclear showdowns over who controls what's left of the world's water, the futurists concluded.
The report, commissioned by the Department of Defense's Office of Net Assessment, its internal think-tank, reflects the Pentagon's policy of planning for the worst, said author and long-time Pentagon consultant Peter Schwartz.
Schwartz said in a Knight Ridder interview that while the climate change envisioned is drastic, it's as worthy of advance planning as several other "high impact scenarios" that came true, such as planning in 1983 for the end of the Soviet Union or in 1995 for the possibility that terrorists might crash planes into the World Trade Center.
While the Bush administration generally has not considered global warming much of an immediate threat, "I did not write an impossible scenario," Schwartz said. It could play out, he said, in the next five to 15 years.
Unlike most climate change studies, which examine global warming over more than a century, the Pentagon study is based on an "abrupt climate change" that scientists say has happened in the past and could happen again soon.
In a climate scenario that Schwartz and fellow futurist Doug Randall call "The Weather Report: 2010-2020," average annual temperatures drop by 5 degrees Fahrenheit in North America and Asia and by 6 degrees in Europe, while temperatures rise by 4 degrees in the southern hemisphere.
The sudden combination of cooling and warming would occur if there were major changes in the ocean's temperature, current and salinity. One of the driving forces of climate is a kind of global ocean conveyor belt that transfers ocean warmth and cooling throughout the world based on how salty the water is.
In the past, sudden melting of glaciers flooded oceans with fresh water and shut down the conveyor belt, which depends on the sinking of salt water to pull warm water from the tropics to higher latitudes. This last happened 8,200 years ago. A 2002 National Academy of Sciences report warned that if it happens again, it would "increase the possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global climatic events."
The Pentagon-commissioned report, "imagining the unthinkable," as its writers' put it, sketches what could happen next:
"Imagine eastern European countries, struggling to feed their populations with a falling supply of food, water and energy, eyeing Russia, whose population is already in decline, for access to its grains, minerals and energy supply. Or, picture Japan, suffering from flooding along its coastal cities and contamination of its fresh water supply, eyeing Russia's Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source. ... Envision Pakistan, India, and China - all armed with nuclear weapons -skirmishing at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land."
Military showdowns could be fast and furious, the report speculates: In 2015, conflict in Europe over supplies of food and water leads to strained relations. In 2022, France and Germany battle over the Rhine River's water. The U.S. Defense Department seals off America's borders to stanch floods of refugees from Mexico and the Caribbean. In 2025, as energy costs increase in nations struggling to cope with warmer and colder weather, the United States and China square off over access to Saudi Arabian oil.
America would weather the climate changes best, albeit with declining agricultural fertility, according to the report. Europe would be hit hard with food shortages and streams of people leaving. China would be hurt by colder winters and hotter summers triggering widespread famine.
The futurists' grim study began a year ago when Andrew Marshall, the director of the Office of Net Assessment -- the Pentagon's chief think-tanker -- started taking the National Academy of Sciences report seriously.
Schwartz, the chairman of Global Business Networks of Emeryville, Calif., said Marshall challenged him: "Suppose the abrupt guys are right? What would happen?"
Schwartz had previously done futuristic scenarios for the Pentagon, Royal Dutch Shell and filmmaker Steven Spielberg.
"The Defense Department continuously looks ahead to ensure that we are prepared in the future for any contingency," Marshall said in a prepared statement issued Monday.
Investigating consequences of climate change is worth looking into, said F. Sherwood Rowland, a Nobel Prize-winning earth sciences professor at the University of California-Irvine.
"Pentagon people are not known as wild environmentalists," Rowland said.
Randall, the study's co-author, said the exploration didn't reflect a change in the Bush administration's view of climate change.
"It's an unlikely event, and the Pentagon often thinks the unthinkable and that's all this was," said Randall.
For the study "An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security," go to the following Web site: http://www.ems.org/climate/pentagon-climate-change.pdf
For information on the mechanics of abrupt climate change, go to the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute Web site at: http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/currenttopics/ct_abruptclimate.htm
For the National Academies of Sciences' 2002 study Abrupt Climate Changes: Inevitable Surprises, go to: http://www.nap.edu/books/0309074347/html/
For Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall at Global Business Networks, go to the GBN Web site at: http://www.gbn.com/
Pentagon-sponsored climate report sparks hullabaloo in Europe
But new ice age unlikely, Bay Area authors of study say
Keay Davidson, Chronicle Science Writer
Wednesday, February 25, 2004
A Pentagon-commissioned report by two Bay Area futurologists has sparked an international brouhaha over possible climate change disasters. But both the authors and military officials say the study has been largely misconstrued by the media and environmentalists.
The Pentagon paid $100,000 for the report by Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of Emeryville, who discuss possible future cataclysms ranging from fishery disasters and Siberian cold waves in Europe to levee failures on the Sacramento River that turn part of Northern California into an inland sea.
News of the report infuriated Europeans, who have long accused the U.S. government of dragging its feet in cutting the industrial production of climate-changing gases such as carbon dioxide.
On Sunday, London's Observer newspaper ran a headline, "Now the Pentagon Tells Bush: Climate Change Will Destroy Us," with subtitles including: "Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war" and "Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years."
At the online site for the international environmental organization Greenpeace, a headline attributed to the Pentagon a "global warming red alert" and added: "Weather of mass destruction bigger threat than terrorism."
The U.S. news media picked up the story early this week. The result was headlines like this one in a Sacramento newspaper: "Pentagon Warning of a New Ice Age."
All of which is annoying both to Pentagon officials and to Schwartz, who is best known as co-author of the 1999 book "The Long Boom," which painted a rosy picture of the world's future economy.
One big problem: both the Emeryville futurologists and Pentagon officials stress the report's scary-sounding projections are highly improbable and extremely unlikely, as Schwartz said Tuesday. Singling out The Observer for criticism, Schwartz emphasized the report is "not a suppressed secret report, it is not a prediction of imminent (doom). ... They got it all wrong."
All that Schwartz and Randall did was to investigate the "worst-case" possible events, those that are highly unlikely to happen but, if they did happen, would be catastrophic, especially in their impacts on U.S. military operations -- "low probability, high impact" events, as they are known in the futurological world.
Unlikely though such events are, such studies are valuable, Schwartz said -- as valuable as if, say, someone in the 1990s had investigated the highly unlikely looking possibility that someone would try to destroy the World Trade Center by flying two airplanes into it, he noted.
Unfortunately, the distinction between prediction and highly improbable was muddied by some of the more frantic press coverage, said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Commander Dan Hetladge. "It's a tempest in a teacup," he said with a chuckle Tuesday.
What happened, he explained, was that an 82-year-old Pentagon official named Andrew Marshall, director of DOD's office of net assessment, authorized the $100,000 report from the Emeryville group. Marshall is a long-term DOD veteran who "has worked for every secretary of defense since (James) Schlesinger" in the 1970s, Hetladge said.
"He's the 'Yoda' of the Pentagon: He's the wise one that, when we need someone to think about big things, he's the one we turn to," Hetladge said.
It isn't even a Pentagon report in the strict sense of the word. It does not constitute an official DOD position paper or policy statement, conducted by scientists and military experts. Rather, all the work was done by Schwartz and Randall -- neither of whom is an atmospheric scientist -- based on their review of what real atmospheric scientists have done.
Schwartz, 57, said that while developing the study, he and Randall consulted with "about nine prominent climatologists." Schwartz declined to name them.
Marshall could not be reached by phone, and it could not be determined Tuesday why he choose the Emeryville firm for the study, rather than, say, a climatological organization or a university.
Schwartz has a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering and astronautics, formerly worked at SRI International in Menlo Park, and once ran scenario planning for Royal Dutch/Shell in London. He is co-founder with veteran Bay Area futurist Stewart Brand of 17-year-old Global Business Network in Emeryville, a think tank whose online site includes articles such as "What Strategists Can Learn from Sartre."
The online site identifies Randall as a former senior research fellow at the Wharton School in Pennsylvania who has written about hydrogen fuel. On Tuesday the Pentagon's Marshall issued a statement that said, among other things: "The Schwartz and Randall study reflects the limits of scientific models and information when it comes to predicting the effects of abrupt global warming. Although there is significant scientific evidence on this issue, much of what this study predicts is still speculation."
E-mail Keay Davidson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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