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Global Climate Change


{Nature_and_Environment.7.1}: Kai Hagen {kai} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 01:06:51 CST (HTML)

There are 751 posts in the original version of this topic, now archived in the {Nature.Old_Nature} forum (only accessible if you are registered at the Cafe).

But...the issue is hotter than ever.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.2}: Kai Hagen {kai} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 01:12:14 CST (HTML)

The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare

The climate could change radically, and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues.

FORTUNE Magazine

Monday, January 26, 2004

By David Stipp

Global warming may be bad news for future generations, but let's face it, most of us spend as little time worrying about it as we did about al Qaeda before 9/11. Like the terrorists, though, the seemingly remote climate risk may hit home sooner and harder than we ever imagined. In fact, the prospect has become so real that the Pentagon's strategic planners are grappling with it.

The threat that has riveted their attention is this: Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade*like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not- too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies*thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power.

Though triggered by warming, such change would probably cause cooling in the Northern Hemisphere, leading to longer, harsher winters in much of the U.S. and Europe. Worse, it would cause massive droughts, turning farmland to dust bowls and forests to ashes. Picture last fall's California wildfires as a regular thing. Or imagine similar disasters destabilizing nuclear powers such as Pakistan or Russia*it's easy to see why the Pentagon has become interested in abrupt climate change.

Climate researchers began getting seriously concerned about it a decade ago, after studying temperature indicators embedded in ancient layers of Arctic ice. The data show that a number of dramatic shifts in average temperature took place in the past with shocking speed*in some cases, just a few years.

The case for angst was buttressed by a theory regarded as the most likely explanation for the abrupt changes. The eastern U.S. and northern Europe, it seems, are warmed by a huge Atlantic Ocean current that flows north from the tropics*that's why Britain, at Labrador's latitude, is relatively temperate. Pumping out warm, moist air, this "great conveyor" current gets cooler and denser as it moves north. That causes the current to sink in the North Atlantic, where it heads south again in the ocean depths. The sinking process draws more water from the south, keeping the roughly circular current on the go.

But when the climate warms, according to the theory, fresh water from melting Arctic glaciers flows into the North Atlantic, lowering the current's salinity*and its density and tendency to sink. A warmer climate also increases rainfall and runoff into the current, further lowering its saltiness. As a result, the conveyor loses its main motive force and can rapidly collapse, turning off the huge heat pump and altering the climate over much of the Northern Hemisphere.

This excerpt is only about a fifth of this informative article. Read the rest here:,15935,582584,00.html


{Nature_and_Environment.7.3}: Kai Hagen {kai} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 01:15:35 CST (HTML)

Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

·Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war
·Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years
·Threat to the world is greater than terrorism

Mark Townsend and Paul Harris in New York
Sunday February 22, 2004
The Observer

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.

Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network.

An imminent scenario of catastrophic climate change is 'plausible and would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately', they conclude. As early as next year widespread flooding by a rise in sea levels will create major upheaval for millions.

Last week the Bush administration came under heavy fire from a large body of respected scientists who claimed that it cherry-picked science to suit its policy agenda and suppressed studies that it did not like. Jeremy Symons, a former whistleblower at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), said that suppression of the report for four months was a further example of the White House trying to bury the threat of climate change.

Read the rest here:,12374,1153530,00.html


{Nature_and_Environment.7.4}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 02:09:22 CST (10 lines)

From Yahoo. (linked by Glen in the Old Nature forum, which I just
read ;-)

>>The person behind the leaked Pentagon report, Andrew Marsall,
cannot be accused of the same partisan politicking.

Marsall, 82, has been an advisor for the defense department for
decades, and was described by The Observer as the author of Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's plans for a major transformation of the
US military.<<


{Nature_and_Environment.7.5}: James River Martin {rivertree} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 15:58:29 CST (1 line)

This stuff is looking really scary. What do we do?


{Nature_and_Environment.7.6}: Jan Rickey {jrickey} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 16:11:32 CST (3 lines)

I limit my energy consumption and try to impact my place of work
toward that end. Course, I'm not working right now, but when I return
to my position as CEO of a YMCA, I'll have the power to do that.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.7}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Tue, 24 Feb 2004 16:43:04 CST (18 lines)

A Science Daily report on the future of water supplies in the west:

>>The reduction in Western mountain snow cover, from the Sierra
Nevada range that feeds California in the south to the snowcapped
volcanic peaks of the Cascades in the Pacific Northwest, will lead
to increased fall and winter flooding, severe spring and summer
drought that will play havoc with the West's agriculture, fisheries
and hydropower industry.

"And this is a best case scenario," said the forecast's chief
modeler, L. Ruby Leung, a staff scientist at the Department of
Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash.
Leung delivered the sobering report at the American Association for
the Advancement of Science annual meeting, and the full results of
her study will appear soon in the journal Climatic Change, now in


{Nature_and_Environment.7.8}: Helge Hafstad {hhaf} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 04:41:36 CST (3 lines)

I'm happy to see that US authorities are finally waking up!
The US track record in international environmental matters is not
exactly brilliant.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.9}: Suzanne Griffith {sggriffith} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 09:57:44 CST (3 lines)

Helge, what do you think about this recent report that Norwegians
will be emigrating because of climate? Is there a consensus on
sudden climate change in Europe?


{Nature_and_Environment.7.10}: Fred Lawson {freddy} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 10:48:04 CST (3 lines)

This is frightening.  Is there pretty much a consensus now in the
scientific community that global warming will lead to ice age like
conditions in the northern hemisphere?


{Nature_and_Environment.7.11}: Kai Hagen {kai} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 11:08:17 CST (HTML)

I think it's more accurate to say that there is something close to a consensus that this is one of the reasonable/possible scenarios, especially since there is good evidence of just such a sudden and dramatic shift happening before.

I've been reading about this particular prospect for a few years now, having first been introduced to it by William Calvin in this 1998 piece from The Atlantic Magazine.

It's an excellent introduction.

For those of you who want a lot of a little more, here is an outstanding page of related links from the folks at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution:


{Nature_and_Environment.7.12}: Thanks, Kai {freddy} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 11:15:16 CST (0 lines)


{Nature_and_Environment.7.13}: Fred Lawson {freddy} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 11:43:53 CST (4 lines)

Yesterday, Amy Goodman did an interview with Paul Harris regarding The
Observer piece linked in {3}:


{Nature_and_Environment.7.14}: Petre Griffin {simcervos} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:01:32 CST (33 lines)


Defusing the Global Warming Time Bomb
Global warming is real, and the consequences are potentially
disastrous. Nevertheless, practical actions, which would also yield
a cleaner, healthier atmosphere, could slow, and eventually stop,
the process
By James Hansen

Paradox in the notion of human-made global warming became strikingly
apparent to me one summer afternoon in 1976 on Jones Beach, Long
Island. Arriving at midday, my wife, son and I found a spot near the
water to avoid the scorching hot sand. As the sun sank in the late
afternoon, a brisk wind from the ocean whipped up whitecaps. My son
and I had goose bumps as we ran along the foamy shoreline and
watched the churning waves.
That same summer Andy Lacis and I, along with other colleagues at
the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, had estimated the
effects of greenhouse gases on climate. It was well known by then
that human-made greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide and
chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), were accumulating in the atmosphere.
These gases are a climate “forcing,” a perturbation imposed on the
energy budget of the planet. Like a blanket, they absorb infrared
(heat) radiation that would otherwise escape from the earth’s
surface and atmosphere to space....continued at Scientific American


The article is worth the price of admission to Scientific American
Digital, or you can pick up a copy of the March issue on the


{Nature_and_Environment.7.15}: Richard Witty {gisland2} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:25:05 CST (47 lines)

At the risk of having a few pies flown my way, I differ from these
views on global warming.

A key substantiation to the Gagosian article in the WHOI set, was
that radical climatic shifts have occurred historically, long before
human intervention was a twinkle in anyone's eye.

The issues surrounding when and where the key ocean and atmospheric
currents will change are nearly entirely random, and the randomness
is only incidentally exagerated by human influences.

What was described was that these large currents change, and only
that they change, not any causative relationship between the two.

Considering global warming from CO2 emissions to be a stimulus of
that radical climate change is like thinking that rolling a pair of
dice faster makes the outcome more random than if they were rolled

All of the concerns around global warming that I've heard pale
compared to the extreme climatic changes that the earth has
experienced naturally, regularly in roughly 105,000 year cycles for
the past 3 million years.

15,000 years ago, (a geologic blink) most of North America was under
a mile-deep sheet of ice. The oceans were 300 feet lower than

Now that is climate change.

The tragedy is that human society has structured itself to not be
able to adapt to climate change, whether it is human induced or
natural. We build in harms way, we have rigid property laws that
restrict social movement, we have destroyed so large a % of the
planet's viable habitat and overpopulated to such an extent that we
are incapable of adapting.

That is the tragedy, and should be the focus of what to
oppose/support. Global warming is itself a symptom. The information
that we could derive from inability to adapt to climate change (human
exagerated and/or natural) is hidden from our view. Our exageration
of the focus of global warming itself further hides it in many
respects, rather than reveals it loud and clear.

Toxins (heavy metals, new molecules, genetically modified entities,
non-degradable materials) are more permanently damaging, and
identifiable as strictly human "contributions".


{Nature_and_Environment.7.16}: Jan Rickey {jrickey} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:36:32 CST (5 lines)

I don't come close to presuming I have the least understanding about
global warming. Maybe it's true, maybe not.

But I can't help feeling that we are more like butterflies than
redwoods.  Our concept of change over time may be skewed.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.17}: Petre Griffin {simcervos} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:49:14 CST (48 lines)


Proponents of policies to control human-induced global warming cite
science as the basis for their claims and proposals.  There is only
one problem -- as much as they claim otherwise, there is no
scientific consensus for their theories, says H. Sterling Burnett, a
senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

No matter what the climate phenomenon, says Burnett, if it can in
some way be presented as unusual by global warming alarmists, it is
argued to be "further evidence of global warming," even if it
contradicts earlier "evidence" pointed to by the same people.
For example:

   o   In late January, newspapers in England reported a study
       indicating ongoing global warming may plunge the world
       into the next ice age.

   o   This is not the first study that has predicted a great
       freeze; indeed, some scientists were warning of the coming
       ice age as early as the 1970s.

   o   The main difference is that those early predictions were
       based on supposed evidence the Earth was undergoing a
       significant cooling trend since the 1940s and that a
       naturally occurring ice age was overdue.

This is the problem with trying to forge appropriate policy
responses to possible threats posed by future climate change -- for
what scenario do we plan?

In the realm of climate change research, different models looking at
the same phenomenon using the same principles of atmospheric physics
often produce dramatically varied results, says Burnett

The only thing clear concerning the many purported effects of the
Earth's warmer climate is that, because they contradict each other,
human-caused global warming cannot be causing all of them
simultaneously and it may not be responsible for any.

Source: H. Sterling Burnett, "Climate science or science fiction?"
Washington Times, February 23, 2004.

For text

For more on Global Warming Science


{Nature_and_Environment.7.18}: James River Martin {rivertree} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 12:55:19 CST (4 lines)

There's been a lot of ... shall we call it "dismissive PR" generated
by the fossil fuel lobby and their "front groups". Follow the money.
Look for smoke screens. Check the facts and then check again. Some
folks are working hard to lie to us.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.19}: Petre Griffin {simcervos} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:25:23 CST (3 lines)

>Some folks are working hard to lie to us.<

Several opposing forces are working hard to lie to us.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.20}: {kai} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:27:00 CST (0 lines)
{erased by kai Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:28:38 CST}


{Nature_and_Environment.7.21}: Kai Hagen {kai} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:28:12 CST (HTML)

> Some folks are working hard to lie to us.

Yes, they are.


Petre: That's classic "greenwashing."

A simplistic piece from a Sun Myung Moon owned, unabashedly right wing newspaper, that gathers its information from the "National Center for Policy Analysis," which is a conservative, big business oriented "think tank" funded by

DaimlerChrysler Corporation Fund
El Paso Energy Foundation
ExxonMobil Foundation
Eli Lilly and Company Foundation
Lilly Endowment Inc.
Procter & Gamble Fund

...and others.

More info:


The "National Center for Policy Analysis" site


More, in their own words:

"The National Center for Policy Analysis is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research institute that seeks innovative, private sector solutions to public policy problems. The NCPA works with scholars at colleges and universities and other think tanks in the United States and around the world. Its target audiences include policymakers, journalists, business and community leaders and the general public. Its mission is to develop and promote private alternatives to government regulation and control, solving problems by relying on the strengths of the competitive, entrepreneurial private sector."


Want to learn more about think tanks and disinformation or greenwashing:





And finally, but perhaps I should list if first:



I hope we won't be seeing more from this group quoted as credible information here.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.22}: Petre Griffin {simcervos} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:34:12 CST (4 lines)

Are you suggesting this forum will be censored from opposing views
on the environment?

I hope not.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.23}: Kai Hagen {kai} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:37:20 CST (HTML)

No. I'm suggesting people should be aware of where information comes from, and that I think it's pretty clear that climate change pieces from the likes of the "National Center for Policy Analysis" lacks scientific credibility from the start.

It's a political group. Not a scientific group.

It's funded by oil companies and auto manufacturors and such.

Rather than go on, though, I'll just encourage folks to check out some of my links above.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.24}: Kai Hagen {kai} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:46:43 CST (HTML)

...and these:

Excerpt of:


"How the polluters' lobby is using phony front groups and New World Order wackos to attack the Kyoto global warming treaty."


"Plus: Meet the real interests behind the anti-enviro wingnuts."


The junkyard dogs of science
"In a special report, Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber expose the shady figures behind the dirty war that’s being waged by big business against environmental regulation."


Lots more out there, of course.


{Nature_and_Environment.7.25}: Petre Griffin {simcervos} Wed, 25 Feb 2004 13:52:13 CST (5 lines)

Have you read this article?



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