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Pentagon Declares Climate Change Urgent National Security Threat
(Mark Hertsgaard, The Nation, February 24, 2004)
George W. Bush may not know it, but one influential part of his government is finally taking global climate change seriously. An extraordinary new report by an elite Pentagon planning unit has declared that climate change is a national security threat of the greatest urgency and demands an immediate response. . . . Directly contradicting Bush and other right-wingers, the Pentagon report maintains that climate change is not only real, it could strike sooner and with much deadlier effect than is usually thought. By 2020, when babies born today will be in high school, climate change could unleash a series of interlocking catastrophes including mega-droughts, mass starvation and nuclear war, as countries like China, India and Pakistan battle over river valleys and other sources of scarce food and water. If the climate's tipping point is reached, change could come abruptly, within a span of three to five years, and ironically result in another ice age. . . . Bush and his allies in the fossil-fuel and auto industries will find these conclusions hard to accept but also hard to ignore. The naysayers' usual defense – that climate change is more a theory favored by liberals than a reality proven by data – won't work against Andrew Marshall, the brain behind the Pentagon report. At 83, Marshall is a legendary figure who has done "big picture" strategic planning for the military for decades and been a trusted associate of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld since the 1970s . . . A copy of the unclassified study was given to Fortune, which published a measured yet terrifying summary in its February 9 issue. Placing the report in such a respected, widely read business publication may have been Marshall's way to do an end run around the White House and send a message to US business leaders: Wake up to climate change's dangers and work to shift civilization's course. . . . One immediate effect may involve the World Bank, whose board of directors is expected to vote by April 15 on a controversial recommendation to stop all funding of coal and oil development, the two fuels most responsible for the carbon dioxide emissions that propel climate change. . . . Citing the dangers of climate change and the often punishing human rights and pollution effects on local people, the review urged that the bank halt all coal loans immediately and all oil loans by 2008. . . . These changes would amount to a virtual revolution in the World Bank's operations, so it's not surprising that bank management has resisted them. . . . the World Bank's energy lending is lopsidedly biased, with 94 percent of total funds underwriting fossil-fuel projects and only 6 percent supporting renewables like wind and solar. . . . But the Pentagon report makes it harder for defenders of the status quo to sustain such arguments. What good is it to ascend from poverty into a world descending into weather chaos and social breakdown? Such reasoning is unlikely to sway George W. Bush; progress in the United States will have to wait until after he is replaced as President. But at the World Bank, the board of directors will soon make a fateful decision: Either back management's call for more coal and oil or lead the way to a post-carbon future. If board members take the trouble to read the Pentagon's warnings in Fortune, it's hard to see how they could vote the wrong way.
posted by Lorenzo 3:49 PM
Statement by a traditional Hopi Elder
You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that: THIS IS THE HOUR! and there things to be considered. Where are you living? What are you doing? What are your relationships? Are you in the right relationship? Where is your water? Know your garden. It is time to speak your truth. Create your community. Be good to each other. And do not look outside yourself for the leader.
posted by Lorenzo 12:10 PM
The Ice Age Cometh
(Thom Hartmann, Thomhartmann.com, February 1, 2004)
Europe and the Pentagon are taking a new look at the greatest danger such climate change could produce for the northern hemisphere -- a sudden shift into a new ice age. What they're finding is not at all comforting. . . . In quick summary, if enough cold, fresh water coming from the melting polar ice caps and the melting glaciers of Greenland flows into the northern Atlantic, it will shut down the Gulf Stream, which keeps Europe and northeastern North America warm. The worst-case scenario would be a full-blown return of the last ice age -- in a period as short as 2 to 3 years from its onset -- and the mid-case scenario would be a period like the "little ice age" of a few centuries ago that disrupted worldwide weather patterns leading to extremely harsh winters, droughts, worldwide desertification, crop failures, and wars around the world. . . . It turns out that our warmth is the result of ocean currents that bring warm surface water up from the equator into northern regions that would otherwise be so cold that even in summer they'd be covered with ice. The current of greatest concern is often referred to as "The Great Conveyor Belt," which includes what we call the Gulf Stream. . . . Amazingly, the Great Conveyor Belt is the only thing between comfortable summers and a permanent ice age for Europe and the eastern coast of North America. . . . Much of this science was unknown as recently as twenty years ago. Then an international group of scientists went to Greenland and used newly developed drilling and sensing equipment to drill into some of the world's most ancient accessible glaciers. Their instruments were so sensitive that when they analyzed the ice core samples they brought up, they were able to look at individual years of snow. The results were shocking. . . . Prior to the last decades, it was thought that the periods between glaciations and warmer times in North America, Europe, and North Asia were gradual. . . . Looking at the ice cores, however, scientists were shocked to discover that the transitions from ice age-like weather to contemporary-type weather usually took only two or three years. Something was flipping the weather of the planet back and forth with a rapidity that was startling. . . . It turns out that the ice age versus temperate weather patterns weren't part of a smooth and linear process, like a dimmer slider for an overhead light bulb. They are part of a delicately balanced teeter-totter, which can exist in one state or the other, but transits through the middle stage almost overnight. They more resemble a light switch, which is off as you gradually and slowly lift it, until it hits a mid-point threshold or "breakover point" where suddenly the state is flipped from off to on and the light comes on. . . What brought on this sudden "disappearance of summer" period was that the warm-water currents of the Great Conveyor Belt had shut down. Once the Gulf Stream was no longer flowing, it only took a year or three for the last of the residual heat held in the North Atlantic Ocean to dissipate into the air over Europe, and then there was no more warmth to moderate the northern latitudes. When the summer stopped in the north, the rains stopped around the equator: At the same time Europe was plunged into an Ice Age, the Middle East and Africa were ravaged by drought and wind-driven firestorms. . . . If the Great Conveyor Belt, which includes the Gulf Stream, were to stop flowing today, the result would be sudden and dramatic. Winter would set in for the eastern half of North America and all of Europe and Siberia, and never go away. Within three years, those regions would become uninhabitable and nearly two billion humans would starve, freeze to death, or have to relocate. Civilization as we know it probably couldn't withstand the impact of such a crushing blow. . . . In the Labrador Sea, flushing failed during the 1970s, was strong again by 1990, and is now declining. In the Greenland Sea over the 1980s salt sinking declined by 80 percent. Obviously, local failures can occur without catastrophe -- it's a question of how often and how widespread the failures are -- but the present state of decline is not very reassuring." . . . Most scientists involved in research on this topic agree that the culprit is global warming, melting the icebergs on Greenland and the Arctic icepack and thus flushing cold, fresh water down into the Greenland Sea from the north. When a critical threshold is reached, the climate will suddenly switch to an ice age that could last minimally 700 or so years, and maximally over 100,000 years. . . . And when might that threshold be reached? Nobody knows -- the action of the Great Conveyor Belt in defining ice ages was discovered only in the last decade. Preliminary computer models and scientists willing to speculate suggest the switch could flip as early as next year, or it may be generations from now. It may be wobbling right now, producing the extremes of weather we've seen in the past few years. . . . What's almost certain is that if nothing is done about global warming, it will happen sooner rather than later. . . .
[COMMENT: This is only a short selection from this important essay. Please click on the link above to read this important story in its entirety.]
posted by Lorenzo 2:00 PM
The Apollo Alliance: Grass Roots Organizers for a Sustainable Future
The Apollo Alliance is building a broad coalition within the labor, environmental, business, urban, and faith communities in support of good jobs and energy independence. The Alliance is developing public education campaigns and communications strategies to link allies and build a national constituency for a bold, broad based, and immediate program of public policy.
The Apollo Alliance has received letters of support from the presidents of several major environmental organizations, including:
Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)
The Sierra Club
Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)
National Wildlife Federation
Republicans for Environmental Protection
The Apollo Alliance's Ten Point Plan has received the endorsement of 17 major labor unions representing over 10 million working men and women.
The Apollo Alliance is currently building endorsements and advisory committees that include strong voices from the civil rights and faith communities, as well as socially responsible and high tech businesses.
If you are interested in becoming a member of this coalition, please contact us through the link above.
The Apollo Alliance was founded as a joint project of:
Institute for America's Future
Center on Wisconsin Strategy
Common Assets Defense Fund
Americans for Energy Freedom
Carol/Trevelyan Strategy Group
posted by Lorenzo 12:11 PM