Alarmists Exaggerate Pentagon Climate Report - Global Warming Speculations Misrepresented as Fact

by Competitive Enterprise Institute Staff

February 24, 2004

Washington, D.C., February 24, 2004—A recent report on the possible future effects of global warming, issued by two researchers working for the U.S. Department of Defense, is being unfortunately misinterpreted as a prediction of imminent climatic disaster. The report, prepared last October, considers a series of far-ranging scenarios based on an array of models and hypotheses of varying degrees of likelihood. The authors repeatedly emphasize the conditional nature of the report, referring to their predictions as “extreme” and “not the most likely.”

“Some alarmists are pointing to the Pentagon report as proof that we face impending climate disaster, but even a brief review shows that that isn’t the case,” said Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming and International Environmental Policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “As with past national security assessments, the Department of Defense was presented with a worst case scenario, not the likely future. The Pentagon naturally believes it has to research any possible threat – whether it be an alien invasion, an accidental nuclear detonation, or catastrophic climate change.”

The report, titled An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National Security, does make a useful contribution to the global warming debate, however, by recommending the “immediate action” of improving predictive climate models. The authors also decline to endorse the energy suppression agenda of the Kyoto Protocol and similar measures which would make the world poorer without providing any discernible impact on the climate.

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The previous article was written in response to the following related article:

Pentagon Study Describes Rapid, Catastrophic Climate Change



A recent Pentagon report describes dramatic worldwide ecosystem changes, resulting in massive political and social instability, due to rapid climate change over the next 20 years. >From food shortages to violent storms, mass human migrations and wars for survival, the study suggests that the Bush Administration must reverse its position on climate change immediately.[1]

The report's authors believe that climate change "should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern." The report was commissioned by Andrew Marshall, a strategist and futurist who has advised the Pentagon for 30 years.[2]

An article in Great Britain's Sunday Observer describes such findings as:

-By 2007 violent storms or flooding will smash coastal barriers and render low-lying coastal and riparian areas uninhabitable worldwide.
-Between 2010 and 2020, average European temperatures drop by 6 degrees F.
-Deaths from war and famine will number in the millions until human population levels drop to a sustainable level.
-Rich nations like the U.S. and Europe will become "virtual fortresses" to prevent entry of millions of migrants fleeing flooded or starving lands.
-Nuclear arms will proliferate, with Japan, North and South Korea, Iran, Egypt and Germany developing nuclear weapons capabilities.
-Access to water will become a major area of strife; Nile, Amazon and Danube Rivers all at risk.

The Bush Administration has yet to publicly acknowledge the Pentagon study, or reverse any of its positions which oppose taking action to address global warming. In fact, as reported yesterday in the administration is threatening to undermine an international treaty that has proven widely successful in reducing worldwide production of methyl bromide, the most potent ozone-depleting chemical still in widespread use.[3]

The Pentagon's climate change report has been ignored so far by American media, with the notable exception being an article in the February 9 issue of Fortune magazine. Fortune describes several disturbing trends that support the theory of rapid climate change, including the recent break-up of the Arctic's largest ice shelf, and increasing signs of a weakened ocean current which brings warmer water from the tropics north to the eastern U.S. and northern Europe.

Fortune writer David Stipp notes that "The Pentagon's reaction to this sobering report isn't known...but the fact that [Andrew Marshall] is concerned may signal a sea change in the debate about global warming."[4]

If so, there are still no signs of it. Just last week, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a report on behalf of over 60 scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates, accusing the Bush Administration of systematically distorting scientific findings to serve policy goals on the environment, health, biomedicine and nuclear arms.[5]


Find out where your senators stood on last year's McCain - Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act. Ask why if they voted against it; thank them if they voted for it.


[1] "Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us," The Observer (UK), Feb. 22, 2004.
[2] Ibid.
[4] "The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare," Fortune, Feb. 9, 2004.
[5] "Scientists Say Administration Distorts Facts," New York Times, Feb. 19, 2004.



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