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NYT: Climate Change Seen as Threat to U.S. Security

Intelligence analysts say that we'll need our military to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics.

The changing global climate will pose profound strategic challenges to the United States in coming decades, raising the prospect of military intervention to deal with the effects of violent storms, drought, mass migration and pandemics, military and intelligence analysts say.

Such climate-induced crises could topple governments, feed terrorist movements or destabilize entire regions, say the analysts, experts at the Pentagon and intelligence agencies who for the first time are taking a serious look at the national security implications of climate change.

So begins the excellent lead story by John Broder in today's NY Times.   This  won't surprise regular readers -- indeed, last September I wrote about an unusually savvy new intelligence forecast on global risks "previewed in a speech by Thomas Fingar, the U.S. intelligence community's top analyst" which

… envisions a steady decline in U.S. dominance in the coming decades, as the world is reshaped by globalization, battered by climate change, and destabilized by regional upheavals over shortages of food, water and energy.

The report … also concludes that one key area of continued U.S. superiority -- military power -- will "be the least significant" asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because "nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force.”

Thank you George Bush and Dick Cheney and your fellow deniers for delaying action so long has to make such an outcome all but inevitable!

The NYT notes, "The conflict in southern Sudan, which has killed and displaced tens of thousands of people, is partly a result of drought in Darfur."   A 2007 Atlantic Monthly piece, " The Real Roots of Darfur," went further, asserting, "The violence in Darfur is usually attributed to ethnic hatred. But global warming may be primarily to blame."

And we haven't even warmed 1°C yet!  We're facing more than five times as much warming the century as the last century on our current emissions path.  How much conflict and misery will be caused when we have turned one third of the Earth's inhabited land mass into a Dust Bowl and sea levels are more than a meter higher and the oceans are increasingly hot, acidified dead zone, which is what the second half of the century holds in store when we blow past 550 ppm on route to 850 to 1000 ppm or more?

The NYT offers this grim scenario:


Recent war games and intelligence studies conclude that over the next 20 to 30 years, vulnerable regions, particularly sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and South and Southeast Asia, will face the prospect of food shortages, water crises and catastrophic flooding driven by climate change that could demand an American humanitarian relief or military response.

One military exercise "explored the potential impact of a destructive flood in Bangladesh that sent hundreds of thousands of refugees streaming into neighboring India, touching off religious conflict, the spread of contagious diseases and vast damage to infrastructure."

The UK government's chief scientist, Professor John Beddington, laid out a similar scenario in a March speech to the government's Sustainable Development UK conference in Westminster. He warned that by 2030, "A ‘perfect storm' of food shortages, scarce water and insufficient energy resources threaten to unleash public unrest, cross-border conflicts and mass migration as people flee from the worst-affected regions," as the UK's Guardian put it.  The NYT continues:

If the United States does not lead the world in reducing fossil-fuel consumption and thus emissions of global warming gases, proponents of this view say, a series of global environmental, social, political and possibly military crises loom that the nation will urgently have to address.

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