RTCC logo

Climate change like ’100-year war’ says US Army expert

Scale of impacts and lack of long-term planning could leave world with ‘no exit strategy’ if temperatures rise

(Pic: US Army/Flickr)

(Pic: US Army/Flickr)

By Ed King

The consequences of uncontrolled global warming could resemble a 100-year war, according to a senior US Army officer who specialises in environmental security.

Brigadier General (ret) Chris King, chief academic officer for the United States Army’s Command and General Staff College, warned that failed states, extreme weather events and mass migration could be “debilitating” and represented real dangers to global stability in the coming years.

“This is like getting embroiled in a war that lasts 100 years. That’s the scariest thing for us,” he told RTCC. “There is no exit strategy that is available for many of the problems.  You can see in military history, when they don’t have fixed durations, that’s when you’re most likely to not win.”

He cites Afghanistan, Haiti, Chad, Somalia and Sudan as areas with ‘extreme’ levels of environmental risk, meaning they struggle to offer a sustainable environmental setting that provides for basic human needs.

These countries, already suffering from localised conflicts, famine and drought, could be placed under intense stress by the impacts of climate change.

Afghanistan’s average temperature could soar 4C by 2090 and precipitation rates fall by 5-20% this century, while water levels could be affected by glacier melt in the Hindu Kush.

“Until you can secure an environment that can look after the population they’ve got, which is fast-growing still, how do you get back to a stable and sustainable condition that you can then build a social and political structure on?” he said.

A forthcoming UN climate science study will warn crops could die out as a result of warmer temperatures (Pic: US Army)

A forthcoming UN climate science study will warn crops could die out as a result of warmer temperatures (Pic: US Army)

A US military assessment delivered to President Barack Obama two weeks ago said poverty, pollution and political instability were likely consequences of a warming world.

The analysis built on the findings of the IPCC, the UN’s climate science panel, which says most scenarios “project increasing environmental degradation.”

King, who retired from active duty with 33 years’ experience in the Army, describes the IPCC’s research as “the best defence intelligence we’ve ever gotten.”

“We go out and spend a mass of money on intelligence, trying to figure out what’s out there that’s going to be a threat,” he said. “In this case somebody did it for us, and did it quite well I believe. It’s as complete a data set and analysis of a strategic security threat that we will see.”

IPCC scientists will meet in Yokohama, Japan next week to release the second of three instalments reviewing climate change, focused on impacts.

Leaked drafts indicate it will say the signs of climate change are everywhere, from melting glaciers and sea ice to more frequent wild fires, extreme heat waves and damaged crops.

The report warns of ever more dangerous impacts without rapid action to curb carbon emissions, including extreme weather, sea level rise and species extinctions.

“With or without adaptation climate change will reduce median (crop) yields by 0 to 2% per decade for the rest of this century as compared to a baseline without climate change,” a version published online reads.

On Tuesday one of the USA’s premier scientific establishments, the American Association for the Advancement of Scientists (AAAS) also warned of the security implications of climate change in a study called What We Know.

“In the context of other global dynamics that give rise to political instability, and societal tensions, changes in climate are considered as potential threat multipliers or instability,” it said.

The AAAS said unmitigated releases of greenhouse gas emissions could lead to “potentially irreversible changes with highly damaging impacts”

“Disturbingly, scientists do not know how much warming is required to trigger such changes to the climate system,” it added.

AAAS: The world is heading for a ‘blind curve’

Read more on: | |

Related News

Climate change is already here, poses serious threat – IPCC

Climate change is world’s ‘gravest security threat’ – report

Women and under-30s most concerned about climate change

G8 climate and security link ‘significant’ says expert

  • Froddoislost

    I wonder if they realize . . . warmer temps are strongly correlated with better crop production.

    This is a scientific fact.

    As to the notion that the military has any actual ability to assist us in the matter; no, they are clearly a contrary asset. To the extent we spend money on the military, we are detracting from our ability to adapt.

    This is a basic economic fact.

    Swords into plowshares, butter vs. bullets and all that. They literally teach this economic truism in freshman econ. classes at every major university.

    But its all okay; the world actually stopped warming about 17 years ago. All the data sets agree. It hasn’t cooled, and it is warm. But it is not getting warmer. Hasn’t for some time.

    None of the GCM’s predicted this, so they are more or less broken. At the very least they are unskillful predictors of climate or the global mean surface temperature.

    We may yet warm more, we may not. Either way, right now it is not entirely clear that more warming would be worse for us than cooling. In the past cooling has always been the most disasterous, by far.

    The dark ages and the American and French revolutions have been strongly linked to cooler climactic episodes. And Frankenstein’s monster. (Very literally.)

    No one has established an “optimum” global surface temperature and the alarmism is entirely speculative. Scientifically, it would be hard to even define the term “optimum global mean surface temperature”.

    And the countries already suffering from localised conflict, famine and drought will all continue to have one thing in common; a lack of basic liberty for their inhabitants.

    • TenneyNaumer

      I wonder if you realize that all crop plants have temperature limits beyond which they no longer produce food — these limits are already being reached in parts of Africa, and certainly during the 2012 heat wave in the American Midwest.

      • Froddoislost

        So . . . since AGW theory strongly supports the notion that the warming will result primarily from warmer night time lows rather than higher day time highs, do you cede this point, as it is unsupported in the science?

        Or do you choose to say ‘it’s science’, express your smugness and continue on with your unfounded belief?

        The warming of the later half of the 20th century is correlated VERY strongly with increases in crop production. The science says that both warmer temps (albeit to a point) and increased CO2 will produce larger yields, this is strongly supported by the data and yet we have alarmists making things up to the contrary.

        Cede the point or admit you are but the great and powerful Oz, hiding behind a curtain and trying to maintain the illusion.

    • Andy

      “I wonder if they realize . . . warmer temps are strongly correlated with better crop production.”

      At 104 degrees F, photosynthesis stops.

      I don’t claim to know everything (or much), but it is not as simple as you or I surmise.

      Plants, fish, animals have temperature ranges. We are very adaptable, and we assume everything else is too. However, plants just can’t catch a flight to a new area. Fish are mobile, and are migrating now.

      I think people arguing this is worthless, it is very polarized, and we need to see the outcome to determine who was correct. The military is determined to have all options covered (I like this). Wouldn’t is suck if they were right in the end, you were wrong and they did nothing as you desire? Then we lose big time.

      If you are right and they are wrong, we still win. That is what they are doing, protecting our kids future by simply covering all bases. I thank them for that.

      I’ve always respected the laws of physics.

      • Froddoislost

        I bet you don’t even know any laws of physics.

        By your interpretation of the precautionary principle we ought to all go back to living in mud huts.

        The theory of AGW indicates that we expect to see the increase in global surface temps present as increased prevailing night time lows rather than higher day time highs. Nothing in the science supports your interpretation.

        It’s actually even more complicated than that, as it was supposed to present primarily in the tropics, according to AGW and the GCM’s that purport to model it. That hasn’t happened. Also; it isn’t the increase in temp that gets you. remember; 1.6C. There is nothing in the science supporting the notion of increasing heat wave, hurricanes, tornadic activity, etc. The problems were supposed to arise due to melting polar caps and higher sea levels, and disruptions to the hydrologic cycle; droughts and monsoons.

        What is being claimed here is simply not in the science.

        You claim you don’t know everything. You are right. Neither do I. By the way; neither do they. A working model of the Earths lower troposhere doesn’t yet exist. Their models are horribly flawed as is our understanding of our climate system.

    • Froddoislost

      Andy; you don’t get it. The military can prepare all they want. If its true then great, but our ability to adapt and prepare is inherently hindered by military expenditure.

      As far as it goes; very few places on the planet ever exceed 104 degrees F. And, of those that do, most don’t stay there for more than a couple of hours.

      The planet’s average temp is somewhere around 58 F, and the current warming being well less than 1.5 F degrees, per NASA GISS data set, the increased amount of time any part of the earth will spend in excess of 104 F is negligible.

      Further; the global surface temperature anomaly is currently 0.17C, per the UAH satellite based temperature data set, compared to the 1979 mean. Get that? 35 years, .17 degrees. That’s 0.51 per CENTURY. Nevermind that it hasn’t increased at all in 17 years. Yes; little known fact; the earth has not warmed in 17 years. In Trenberth’s own words; “We cannot account for a lack of warming, and its a travesty that we can’t.” Or, in Mike Mann’s case; “Hide the decline.”

      Study this. Learn what the science has to say, because the journalists and the activist “scientists” (sic) are not telling the full story.

  • Byron Shutt

    After the purge of officers from the military by this regime…I wouldn’t trust their partisan opinion.

  • http://antarcticproject.com Jed Maitland-Carter

    Sea Level Control Strategy

    I believe we can use pipelines to move sea water into desert and polar areas to create inland “reservoirs”. Desertification is creating this opportunity. Why not control the sea level? We can stock the fish,do “offshore ” drilling is we want, get humidity from evaporation, and even get fresh water from desalination: although the brine by -product needs a solution.

    We have existing technology in pipelines. We can compensate desert countries with monies saved by not needing coastal city sea walls.

    I would like to get funding to at least start on project: say in North Africa or Namidia where the desert meets the ocean.

    see: antarcticproject.com

  • ruralcounsel

    This takes stupid to a whole new level. The military is supposed to handle changing conditions. It doesn’t matter what causes the changing conditions. And I highly doubt this military guy knows anything about the science – he’s assuming a lot, and drawing conclusions from that. But no doubt his civilian masters support his statements since it adds some kind of legitimacy to a cause they support. And they support it because it justifies their power grabbing money-grubbing policies.

  • Ciccio

    The counties listed all have one major disaster in common and it is all 100% man made. Overpopulation. Even in the best of times agriculture in those countries was marginal but when the population multiplies by ten in fifty years, without additional land water or infrastructure life is likely to turn into a disaster. When Pakistan became independent in 1948, it had a population of about 30 million. Today it close to 200 million.

  • http://orach24463.wordpress.com/ CJ

    Is the US Army now conducting a war against poor people and children? Higher fuel prices = more poor people = more children dying but to add insult to injury denying the poor access to cheap and reliable energy from fossil fuel to lower CO2 emmisions wil do nothing to mitigate climate change. the historical record over a million years shows that CO2 was 10X higher than today when the temperatures were both lower and high which completly blows apart the theory that CO2 is the primary culprit responsible for climate change.

  • Leif Erik Knutsen

    The fossil fuel industry is quick to point out that if environmental constraints force the fossil industry to leave much of the remaining fossil reservers in the ground they face serious economic losses. On this point I would agree. However not to the degree that I feel sorry for them. The Fossil industry has made its bets and must take its lumps. It may be hard to believe but others face cumulative losses even greater than the fossil industry and no one is even talking about them, but should.

    There is very serious drought in the SW & California and the the Nation can be looking at the very real problem of climate refugees from those areas in fairly large numbers, relatively soon. Add in the climate refugee folks from around the world losing Nations, waters, (both for irrigation and drinking), coastal lands, bread baskets, infrastructure, ecosystems, businesses, farms, homes, forests, health and even lives and one can quickly see the “stranded assets” of “We the People” becomes significant indeed. If those climate refugees are environmentally forced to leave those assets they become worthless equity.

    I would add that the fossil industry funding of the denier sphere and GOPollutocrat enablers are compounding the carnage by funding against reasonable mitigation policies. This is market manipulation depressing the value of investments in the Green Awakening Economy. (illegal?)

    So suck it up ecocide fossil Barons and the #Pollutocrats you enable. It is the American way.