The future of British summer?
Fifteen years ago, some of us were warning of the impacts of
fossilfuels on the climate. The science was less conclusive than
today, butwe, along with most climatologists, believed that the
consequences wereof such magnitude that immediate action was
prudent. Today,environmentalists aren't the only ones saying that.
The World Bank andthe Pentagon have both commissioned studies which
finally admit thatour world is in serious peril, and the biggest
threat to our future isnot terrorism, but our own dependence on
fossil fuels. In other words,"We have met the enemy, and he is
This year, the small circle of remaining climate "skeptics"
--scientists and politicians who don't believe that global warming
ishappening, or who refuse to accept a human element in its
making,narrowed so far that Exxon/Mobil and the President of the
United Statesmay soon be the sole, shrill naysayers.
Sir David King, Chief Scientist in Tony Blair's government, has
saidthat global warming is a greater threat than terrorism. Hans
Blix, whoran the UN weapons inspection programme in Iraq, says the
And now, two of the most conservative institutions in the world,
thePentagon and the World Bank, have received studies
recommendingimmediate action to address imminent threats posed by
global warming,with the Pentagon's report warning that global
warming is a greaterthreat than terrorism.
World bank: "global warming requires immediate action"
Earlier this month the Financial Times revealed that the World
Bank was rejecting the recommendations of an independent panelthat
they had appointed. The panel's mission was to assess
theenvironmental, institutional, poverty, and human rights impacts
of theWorld Bank's investments in "extractive industries:" gas,
coal, oil,and mining. Their recommendation was to phase out all
investments infossil fuels over the next eight years:
"The WBG [World Bank Group] should aggressively increase
investmentsin renewable energies by about 20 percent annually. WBG
lending shouldconcentrate on promoting the transition to renewable
The World Bank's current energy lending dedicates 6 percent
torenewables, 94 percent to oil. In rejecting the recommendation of
theindependent panel, the Bank is targeting $US 300-500 million
annuallyin loans promoting development of oil -- and the slow
cooking of ourplanet.
Pentagon: "global warming requires immediate action"
Pentagon's planning scenariosays that global warming "should be
elevated beyond a scientific debateto a US national security
concern." It declares that "future wars willbe fought over the
issue of survival rather than religion, ideology ornational
It envisions the need to turn the US and other rich
westerncountries into "fortresses," armed against an angry tide of
peopledisplaced by rising sea levels or unable to grow food, and
running fortheir lives.
The report doesn't hem and haw the way the White House does.
Itdoesn't speak in tortured sentences to suggest that the
scientificcommunity isn't convinced. It hasn't been proof-read and
edited byExxon/Mobil. It says it plain:
"Rather than decades or even centuries of gradual warming,
recentevidence suggests the possibility that a more dire climate
scenario mayactually be unfolding."
The report was commissioned "to develop a plausible scenario
forabrupt climate change that can be used to explore implications
for foodsupply, health and disease, commerce and trade, and their
consequencesfor national security."
Here's the "plausible scenario" that the Pentagon envisions:
"By 2005 the climatic impact of the
shift is felt more intenselyin certain regions around the world.
More severe storms and typhoonsbring about higher storm surges and
floods in low-lying islands such asTarawa and Tuvalu (near New
Zealand). In 2007, a particularly severestorm causes the ocean to
break through levees in the Netherlandsmaking a few key coastal
cities such as The Hague unlivable. Failuresof the delta island
levees in the Sacramento River region in theCentral Valley of
California creates an inland sea and disrupts theaqueduct system
transporting water from northern to southern Californiabecause salt
water can no longer be kept out of the area during the dryseason...
As glacial ice melts, sea levels rise and as wintertime seaextent
decreases, ocean waves increase in intensity, damaging
coastalcities. Additionally millions of people are put at risk of
floodingaround the globe (roughly 4 times 2003 levels), and
fisheries aredisrupted as water temperature changes cause fish to
migrate to newlocations and habitats, increasing tensions over
The Pentagon foresees fishing wars between Spain and
Portugal.Pakistan, India, and China - all armed with nuclear
weapons - skirmishat their borders over refugees, access to shared
rivers, and arableland. Bangladesh becomes uninhabitable. Drought
hits the Americanbreadbasket. Britain's weather begins to resemble
Siberia. India, SouthAfrica, and Indonesia are ripped apart by
And ultimately, the report forecasts a decrease in the
planet'shuman carrying capacity, leading to sharp reductions in the
world'spopulation due to starvation, disease, and war.
Bush: "the jury is still out on global warming."
But so far, George Bush is sticking to the line that the
Kyototreaty was "unscientific," that "the jury is still out" on
globalwarming, and that everyone "misunderestimates" him.
Actually, Mr. Bush, the jury's been in for some time, and now
even areport commissioned by your own Pentagon is saying you're
wrong.Perhaps it's time you focussed on the real terrorist threat
to ourplanet: the oil companies like Exxon which continue to fund
yourre-election, and whose interests you continue to defend at the
expenseof our future.
While you're pursuing policies that accelerate the production
ofgreenhouse gases and continuing to deny the existence of a
threat, theWorld Bank is being told it has to stop subsidizing
Armageddon, and thePentagon is war-gaming ways to survive a
catastrophe it's callingplausible.
If you were willing to launch a pre-emptive war on enemies
youbelieve may someday think about attacking the US, wouldn't it
seemprudent to take pre-emptive action against climate change?