March 08, 2004 | Peter

Pentagon Report on Global Warming

In my last blog entry I mentioned a Pentagon report on global warming. This was taken from the Guardian website and some have claimed the story misrepresented the actuality. Thanks to a lead from a reader I’ve got more info on the story. I don’t intend going into this in depth, but I will make a couple of points.
The actual report seems like a typical scenario exercise on the implications of global warming. Scenarios are used in futures exercises to get people thinking about possibilities, and are not predictive as such at all. In fact all consideration of the future is inherently speculative, because even speculating can affect the future.
However, organisations like the Pentagon do not do such things for fun and the exercise does indicate that some of the Pentagon’s denizens are thinking about this problem. As reasonably rational people concerned about the crucial issue of national defence in a fast changing world, they should be.
And so should the President of the US, instead of claiming that more science is needed before he’ll even start to do anything. Much of the most obvious responses to the prospect of global warming – like conserving fossil fuels, especially oil, developing energy conservation measures generally and establishing global crisis management structures – make sense anyway. As opposed to what the current Bush administration is doing.
So whatever the facts about this report (and the original Observer story may have skewed them somewhat), the significance of the Pentagon’s interest remains.
As for the actuality of global warming, there is strong argument that it may well be beyond ready predicability in that complex natural systems can quickly shift from one stable state to another with little apparent extra input. Thus we may not have the time most economists assume to get evidence on long term trends.
There is no doubt we are conducting a major experiment on the earth’s atmosphere in pumping all the pollutants into it and the oceans. The argument that we should ease off until we know better what it will do seems obviously valid to me.

Posted by Peter at 1:02 pm | Comments Off on Pentagon Report on Global Warming |
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