Rumsfeld's weather report

By Geraldine Sealey
February 24, 2004 12:45AM (UTC)
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Earlier, we pointed out an Observer of London piece about a "secret" Pentagon report -- reportedly being suppressed by defense officials -- that says "climate change over the next 20 years could result in a global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters," according to the paper. Since then, we came across this Feb. 9 package from Fortune magazine called "The Pentagon's Weather Nightmare," by David Stipp. Apparently, Stipp also saw a copy of the Pentagon report, which was commissioned by the Department of Defense's very own "Yoda" figure: The 82-year-old renowned defense planner Andrew Marshall, who's headed a secretive think tank on the future of national security since 1973, spearheaded the push for ballistic-missile defense, and, at the behest of Donald Rumsfeld, has led a sweeping review of U.S. military "transformation."

Here was Stipp's conclusion about the Pentagon report. "The risk of abrupt climate change remains uncertain, and it is quite possibly small. But given its dire consequences, it should be elevated beyond a scientific debate. Action now matters, because we may be able to reduce its likelihood of happening, and we can certainly be better prepared if it does. It is time to recognize it as a national security concern."


"The Pentagon's reaction to this sobering report isn't known -- in keeping with his reputation for reticence, Andy Marshall declined to be interviewed. But the fact that he's concerned may signal a sea change in the debate about global warming. At least some federal thought leaders may be starting to perceive climate change less as a political annoyance and more as an issue demanding action."

"If so, the case for acting now to address climate change, long a hard sell in Washington, may be gaining influential support, if only behind the scenes. Policymakers may even be emboldened to take steps such as tightening fuel-economy standards for new passenger vehicles, a measure that would simultaneously lower emissions of greenhouse gases, reduce America's perilous reliance on OPEC oil, cut its trade deficit, and put money in consumers' pockets."

(Update: An on-top-of-it reader sent this link to his web site, which includes a downloadable version of the report to the Pentagon. Page down under Table of contents.)

Geraldine Sealey

Geraldine Sealey is senior news editor at

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