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World Bank, Pentagon: global warming red alert

World Bank, Pentagon: global warming red alert

A world thrown into turmoil by drought, floods, typhoons. Whole countries rendered uninhabitable. The capital of the Netherlands submerged. The borders of the US and Australia patrolled by armies firing into waves of starving boat people desperate to find a new home. Fishing boats armed with cannon to drive off competitors. Demands for access to water and farmland backed up with nuclear weapons. Sound like the ravings of doom-saying environmental extremists? It's actually the latest Pentagon report on how to ready America for the coming climate Armageddon.

Fifteen years ago, some of us were warning of the impacts of fossil fuels on the climate. The science was inconclusive, but we believed that the consequences were of such magnitude that immediate action was prudent. Today, environmentalists aren't the only ones saying that. The World Bank and the Pentagon have both commissioned studies which finally admit that our world is in serious peril, and the biggest threat to our future is not terrorism, but our own dependence on fossil fuels. In other words, "We have met the enemy, and he is us."

This year, the small circle of remaining climate "skeptics" -- scientists and politicians who don't believe that global warming is happening, or who refuse to accept a human element in its making, narrowed so far that Exxon/Mobil and the President of the United States may soon be the sole, shrill naysayers.

Sir David King, Chief Scientist in Tony Blair's government, has said that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism. Hans Blix, who ran the UN weapons inspection programme in Iraq, says the same thing.

And now, two of the most conservative institutions in the world, the Pentagon and the World Bank, have published studies recommending immediate action to address imminent threats posed by global warming, with the Pentagon itself agreeing that global warming is a greater threat than terrorism. World bank: "global warming requires immediate action"

Earlier this month the Financial Times revealed that the World Bank was rejecting the recommendations of an independent panel that they had appointed. The panel's mission was to assess the environmental, institutional, poverty, and human rights impacts of the World Bank's investments in "extractive industries:" gas, coal, oil, and mining. Their recommendation was to phase out all investments in fossil fuels over the next eight years:

"The WBG [World Bank Group] should aggressively increase investments in renewable energies by about 20 percent annually. WBG lending should concentrate on promoting the transition to renewable energy..."

The World Bank's current energy lending dedicates 6 percent to renewables, 94 percent to oil. In rejecting the recommendation of the independent panel, the Bank is targeting $US 300-500 million annually in loans promoting development of oil -- and the slow cooking of our planet. Pentagon: "global warming requires immediate action"

The Pentagon's secret report says that global warming "should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern." It declares that "future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour."

It envisions the need to turn the US and other rich western countries into "fortresses," armed against an angry tide of people displaced by rising sea levels or unable to grow food, and running for their lives.

The report doesn't hem and haw the way the White House does. It doesn't speak in tortured sentences to suggest that the scientific community isn't convinced. It hasn't been proof-read and edited by Exxon/Mobil. It says it plain: "Rather than decades or even centuries of gradual warming, recent evidence suggests the possibility that a more dire climate scenario may actually be unfolding."

The report was commissioned "to develop a plausible scenario for abrupt climate change that can be used to explore implications for food supply, health and disease, commerce and trade, and their consequences for national security."

Here's the "plausible scenario" that the Pentagon envisions:

"By 2005 the climatic impact of the shift is felt more intensely in certain regions around the world. More severe storms and typhoons bring about higher storm surges and floods in low- lying islands such as Tarawa and Tuvalu (near New Zealand).

In 2007, a particularly severe storm causes the ocean to break through levees in the Netherlands making a few key coastal cities such as The Hague unlivable. Failures of the delta island levees in the Sacramento River region in the Central Valley of California creates an inland sea and disrupts the aqueduct system transporting water from northern to southern California because salt water can no longer be kept out of the area during the dry season... As glacial ice melts, sea levels rise and as wintertime sea extent decreases, ocean waves increase in intensity, damaging coastal cities. Additionally millions of people are put at risk of flooding around the globe (roughly 4 times 2003 levels), and fisheries are disrupted as water temperature changes cause fish to migrate to new locations and habitats, increasing tensions over fishing rights."

The Pentagon foresees fishing wars between Spain and Portugal. Pakistan, India, and China - all armed with nuclear weapons - skirmish at their borders over refugees, access to shared rivers, and arable land. Bangladesh becomes uninhabitable. Drought hits the American breadbasket. Britain's weather begins to resemble Siberia. India, South Africa, and Indonesia are ripped apart by civil war.

And ultimately, the report forecasts a decrease in the planet's human carrying capacity, leading to sharp reductions in the world's population due to starvation, disease, and war.

Bush: "the jury is still out on global warming."

But so far, George Bush is sticking to the line that the Kyoto treaty was "unscientific," that "the jury is still out" on global warming, and that everyone "misunderestimates" him.

Actually, Mr. Bush, the jury's been in for some time, and now even your own Pentagon is saying you're wrong. Perhaps it's time you focussed on the real terrorist threat to our planet: the oil companies like Exxon which continue to fund your re- election, and whose interests you continue to defend at the expense of our future.

While you're pursuing policies that accelerate the production of greenhouse gases and continuing to deny the existence of a threat, the World Bank is being told it has to stop subsidizing Armageddon, and the Pentagon is war-gaming ways to survive a catastrophe it's calling plausible.

If you were willing to launch a pre-emptive war on enemies you believe may someday think about attacking the US, wouldn't it seem prudent to take pre-emptive action against climate change?

Download the full report (PDF)

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