Sun 22 February 2004
A world thrown into turmoil by drought, floods, typhoons. Whole countries rendered uninhabitable. The political capital of the Netherlands submerged. The borders of the US and Australia patrolled by armies firing into waves of starving boat people desperate to find a new home. Fishing boats armed with cannon to drive off competitors. Demands for access to water and farmland backed up with nuclear weapons. Sound like the ravings of doom-saying environmental extremists? It's actually the latest Pentagon report on how to ready America for the coming climate Armageddon.
Fifteen years ago, some of us were warning of the impacts of fossil fuels on the climate. The science was inconclusive, but we believed that the consequences were of such magnitude that immediate action was prudent. Today, environmentalists aren't the only ones saying that. The World Bank and the Pentagon have both commissioned studies which finally admit that our world is in serious peril, and the biggest threat to our future is not terrorism, but our own dependence on fossil fuels. In other words, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
This year, the small circle of remaining climate "skeptics" -- scientists and politicians who don't believe that global warming is happening, or who refuse to accept a human element in its making, narrowed so far that Exxon/Mobil and the President of the United States may soon be the sole, shrill naysayers.
Sir David King, Chief Scientist in Tony Blair's government, has said that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism. Hans Blix, who ran the UN weapons inspection programme in Iraq, says the same thing.
And now, two of the most conservative institutions in the world, the Pentagon and the World Bank, have published studies recommending immediate action to address imminent threats posed by global warming, with the Pentagon itself agreeing that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism.
Key findings of the Pentagon Report (source: The Observer)
Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour. By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of Holland inhabitable. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento River area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south. Between 2010 and 2020 Europe suffers an average annual temp drop of 6F degrees. Weather patterns in Britain begin to resemble Siberia. Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt, and North Korea. A 'significant drop' in the planet's ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years. Rich nations like the US and Europe would become 'virtual fortresses' to prevent millions of migrants fleeing flooded or starving lands. Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet's population is reduced to a point the earth can support. Access to water becomes a major battleground. Nile, Danube and the Amazon are all mentioned as high risk. Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates inland water supplies.