War on Climate

Via e-mail, I see the Observer has a rather bizarre report: Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

Climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters..
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.

Bizarre indeed. I’ve got virtually no knowledge of the science behind this but it strikes me as, to say the least, wildly implausible. For one thing, while Andrew Marshall is without question a brilliant man, this isn’t the kind of thing he does. He studies defense trends, not the weather. (See profiles here and here for background.)

FILED UNDER: Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Ross says:

    Kind of funny the WMD claims were all obvious lies that President Bush should have know to ignore but this “secret report” is 100% and we should totally destroy the world economy to stop global warming.

  2. Tom says:

    Here is some information via instapundit regarding this. It looks like as if the Pentagon asked some “great minds” to develop some “what if” strategies.


  3. Jon H says:

    For what it’s worth, Fortune magazine covered the same story in the last month or so.

    So it’s not just the Observer.

    Nor is it just Marshall. If you search Google for “Atlantic conveyor” you’ll find (reputable) sites discussing the possibility of cold fresh water from glaciers disrupting the Gulf Stream and chilling the UK.

  4. Jon H says:

    tom writes: “It looks like as if the Pentagon asked some “great minds” to develop some “what if” strategies.”

    While this is true, the scenarios appear to be based on actual possible events, like the breakdown of the Gulf Stream. It’s not like they’re just pulling it out of their butts.

  5. John A. Kalb says:

    This has been around for a while.

    Basically, DoD tries to plan for everything, and entering another ice age, whether man-made or natural, would cause a lot of problems, and DoD wants to plan for them.

    This happens pretty often. Someone hears that DoD is planning for some eventuality, and then the press runs with it and starts claiming that DoD thinks something is definitely going to happen.

  6. phil massey says:

    Well, I, for one am buying some sunscreen, guns, ammo and a broadsword and then I’m heading for high ground.


    I don’t buy this Guardian story as written.

  7. Tim Blair was all over this business – here is the link: http://timblair.spleenville.com/archives/006051.php

    Amongst other things, he has a link to the report itself, together with some of the history behind who prepared it and why.

    I don’t think we have to grow gills just yet.

  8. Eric says:

    Robert Kaplan has also been on this story (see The Coming Anarchy). Also, any one that reads political science journals will remember the Homer-Dixon article from (I believe) a 1994 issue of International Security. Get a jstor.org subscription.

  9. Jon writes:

    While this is true, the scenarios appear to be based on actual possible events, like the breakdown of the Gulf Stream. It’s not like they’re just pulling it out of their butts. (emphasis mine)

    Just like I’m planning my retirement based on lottery winnings and my sex life around the more nymphomanical members of the Swedish Bikini team.

    Don’t laugh. It could happen.

    Just about as soon as Michael Moore trims down to a svelte 155.

  10. Fred Boness says:

    155 kilograms? It could happen.

  11. No, no, no – 155 solar masses.