Thursday, February 26, 2004

Abrupt global climate changes will lead to wars over food, water and oil and leave the earth in a new ice age with raging seas, storms and wind, according to a Pentagon-commissioned study.

The report, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for U.S. National Security,” concludes that “substantial global warming” could lead to a breakdown of warm ocean currents caused by reduced salt in the ocean.

That, in turn, would produce a drop in global temperatures of as much as 6 degrees, creating catastrophic cold weather and environmental calamities. And, as human populations struggle over the changes, “tensions could mount around the world, leading to two fundamental strategies: defensive and offensive,” the report states.

It also presents a scenario where global warming through 2010 is followed by a major deep freeze in at least the Northern Hemisphere that would last from a decade to several thousand years.

The new colder, unstable weather would pose new threats to national security.

“Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water rather than by conflicts over ideology, religion or national honor,” the report says. “The shifting motivation for confrontation would alter which countries are most vulnerable and the existing warning signs for security threats.”

A Pentagon spokesman said the report is a “speculative” look at the future.

For the United States, the report suggests the country would become a “fortress” committed to using resources to feed its people, shoring up borders against starving migrants seeking entry and managing world tensions.

China would be faced with “mega-droughts” and famines.

“Widespread famine causes chaos and internal struggles as a cold and hungry China peers jealously across the Russian and western borders at energy resources,” the report says.

Europe would be hit hardest by quick climate changes that would leave the continent “more like Siberia,” the report says.

“Europe struggles to stem emigration out of Scandinavian and northern European nations in search of warmth, as well as immigration from hard-hit countries in Africa and elsewhere,” the report states.

Energy-starved Japan would likely seize the large oil and gas reserves in nearby Sakhalin island.

The report stated that nuclear-arms proliferation will increase as a result of weather changes in what it called a “world of warring states.”

“Futurists” Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network, a consulting group, produced the report for the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment.

The report recommends improving scientific research in predicting climate change, researching nations’ vulnerability to abrupt climate change, and better preparing to respond to climate change.

Abrupt climate change will require “new forms of security agreements” dealing with energy, food and water, according to the report.

“In short, while the United States itself will be relatively better off and with more adaptive capacity, it will find itself in a world where Europe will be struggling internally, large numbers of refugees [will be] washing up on its shores and Asia [will be] in serious crisis over food and water,” the report states. “Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life.”

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