- Climate change over the next 20 years
could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars
and natural disasters..
- * Secret report warns of rioting and
- * Britain will be 'Siberian' in less
than 20 years
- * Threat to the world is greater than
- 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
- 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.