Fortune Magazine carried a story in their January 26, 2004 issue about the possibility of abrupt climate change that ”would cause massive droughts, turning farmland to dust bowls and forests to ashes.” The story is based on an unclassified report that the Pentagon shared with Fortune. The news is the sources themselves, the Pentagon and Fortune, who have no reputation as tree huggers.
The Pentagon report is not a prediction but an uncomfortable plausible scenario that moves climate change considerations beyond the scientific realm into the military realm as well. The usual thought is that climate change is slow and gradual taking centuries to make a difference. However, researchers about a decade ago, studying ancient layers in Artic ice, saw evidence that major temperature variations could occur within a few years.
Continual melting of the Artic Icecap will effectively shut down the Atlantic Ocean current as we know it that keeps Great Britain’s climate at temperate levels. Contrast Labrador’s weather, at the same latitude of Great Britain. The current draws warm, moist air from the south and gets cooler and denser as it goes north. The current sinks in the North Atlantic and then heads south. The sinking process pulls more water from the south maintaining the circular flow. Melting Artic glaciers lower the current’s salinity and its density to sink. The huge heat pump loses its force, thus changing the climate of North America and Europe.
Coastal cities in Europe and the rest of the world will be under water due to rising seas. By 2007, violent storms could smash the Netherlands dike structure, making large parts of the country inhabitable. By 2020, Great Britain could see a Siberian type of climate.
Nations in the period of climate change will not go to war over the usual causes – imperial conquest, religion, or ideology. Armed conflict will be to protect or secure basic items directly related to survival – dwindling food, water and energy. Countries will develop nuclear weapons to acquire or protect what they need. Over 400 million people will migrate to warmer climates but gunboats and border guards will kill or turn away most of them away.
There are actions to take to prevent this adverse scenario. In 2002, the National Academy of Sciences issued a report surmising that human activity could set off abrupt change. Drastic reduction of fossil fuel use, increased conservation, alternative energies, a stronger Kyoto treaty and simpler life styles could make a difference.
War and avoidance of war have patterns that have been around for a long time. Nuclear and smart weapons complicate dealings but do not transform them. Now we will have no one to kill to solve our problems. Bombing of buildings or human beings will not affect climate change. In the words of the old Pogo cartoon, “ We have met the enemy and he is us”.
In the early 1950s, there was a heated discussion about who lost China. Now the National Commission is investigating the nation’s preparedness for terrorism before the terrible September 11 event. If abrupt climate change starts to occur, it may be too late to affect the outcome. Action is necessary when there is time to implement plans seeing which work and which do not.
Even without the threat of abrupt climate change, man must end war, if not for all the moral reasons, but now it is a distraction from our difficulties, poverty, overpopulation, environmental destruction, income inequality, water shortages and climate change. This is not just something dreamed up by peaceniks like me but Douglas MacArthur. The following are quotations from his address to the U.S. Congress on April 19, 1951:
“I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a means of settling international disputes.”…. "Military alliances, balances of power, leagues of nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, our Armageddon will be at our door. The problem basically is theological and involves a spiritual recrudescence, an improvement of human character that will synchronize with our almost matchless advances in science, art, literature, and all material and cultural developments of the past two thousand years. It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh."
Intermediate steps will be the steppingstones to abolishing war:
* Establish a Peace Department,
* Initiate a second Marshall Plan for the world’s poor (removing poverty as a source of conflict and terrorism),
* Start a moratorium on weapons research, and,
* Through international agreement, establish a sales tax on arms sales.
It is a long way from reading this article to achieving peace on earth but we have to start somewhere.
Send email to email@example.com with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright © 2005 Ed O'Rourke, P.C.
Last modified: 04/19/2007