The Viridian Design Movement

Viridian Note 00401: British Blowback

Bruce Sterling []
Key concepts
Guardian newspaper, Andrew Marshall, Global Business Network, abrupt climate change, military implications, Khaki Green
Attention Conservation Notice:
a fully annotated version of a rather silly British newspaper story about Pentagon climate-change speculations.

Links: Trends in logo design. Man, that stuff's sure fun to look at, and, uh, ridicule. The discovery of global warming. The consequences are all all ahead of us.

(((Boy, this Guardian climate-change story sure has legs. Everybody and his sister has sent me one of these things, despite the fact that we Viridians were hip to this ages ago.

(((This is Peter Schwartz of Global Business Network whose work is being roundly distorted on the other side of the pond here. I know Peter Schwartz – we Viridians even threw a joint GBN/Viridian design contest once. So this Guardian story practically qualifies as "Viridian blowback."

(((Blowback is what happens when an intelligence agency cunningly plants a press story someplace or other, and then somebody else reprints it and gets it kind of half-wrong, and then the very same guys who planted it read it with their eyes like two saucers and say "Wow! There must be something to that after all!" And then Valerie Plame's husband flies over to the actual locale with the rumor, and he figures out that the whole story is completely distorted, so you have to leak something to your pet right-wing columnist and try to discredit her. 'Cause, you know, that was her husband. He must pay!)))

(((Anyway, these Guardian guys, who should have known better, have cobbled-up a tale that is rather detached from reality but is really making the old net-clipping rounds. That's because their spin is about the malignant perfidy of the Bush Administration rather than the actual futurism. But, well, read on.)))


"Now the Pentagon tells Bush: climate change will destroy us

(((No, that's not what anybody, in fact, said. What the report really says is that severe climate change has severe military implications, a truism we Viridians have been spouting since 1998. Because it's dead obvious with a moment's intelligent thought.)))

"Secret report warns of rioting and nuclear war (((It's not a "secret report." Plus, any act of military futurism that doesn't consider nuclear war is kind of stupid.)))

"Britain will be 'Siberian' in less than 20 years (((That could be pretty interesting. And if the warm currents that cross the Atlantic cease doing that, yeah, it's a logical consequence.)))

(((Of course, at the moment, Britain is not Siberian. Instead, they are picking piranha fish out of the Thames.)))

South American Piranha Fished from River Thames

"Threat to the world is greater than terrorism" (((OF COURSE the threat's greater than terrorism! What's worse: some IRA bombs in London, or London turned to a giant, rigid popsicle?)))

by 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. (((Well, at least the lede is nice.)))

"A secret report, suppressed by US defence chiefs and obtained by The Observer, (((Mark, Paul, come on now. The big bad report flew over the transom at you, is that it? It's sitting there on a Greenpeace website!)))

"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.

(((If we really suffer a major, sudden shift in Atlantic ocean currents, yeah, something along that line is pretty much bound to tear loose. That conclusion requires no massive leap of imagination, although GBN is pretty well second to none at this stuff.)))

"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. (((Well, that sounds mighty bad and grim, but think about it – how could that NOT happen with a huge, abrupt climate change? It's completely logical.))) The threat to global stability vastly eclipses that of terrorism, say the few experts privy to its contents. (((Abrupt full-scale climate change is also "vastly eclipses" both World Wars and the Black Death, but, you know, what about that-there terrorism.)))

(((Okay, Viridian "experts," here you go; privy some of those contents, you lot weren't born yesterday.)))

Dot-pdf in here, yee-hah:

Peter Schwartz published a book last summer, "Inevitable Surprises: Thinking Ahead in a Time of Turbulence" (Gotham Books) that includes this scenario.

Fortune magazine published their own take on the report:,15114,582584,00.html

The scenario of a sudden change in Atlantic currents is well-known. It was on Nova as a public-educational TV program, even. And such things have indeed happened. NOAA has a web page on abrupt climate change in the Younger Dryas era:

(((So, well, maybe it's abrupt and maybe it ain't, but if it's abrupt, we're gonna catch it. It certainly won't play out exactly as this GBN pitch wargames it, but this is the scale of mayhem that's plausible.)))

"'Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life,' concludes the Pentagon analysis. 'Once again, warfare would define human life.' (((First of all, Andrew Marshall isn't "the Pentagon." If you've ever been inside the Pentagon, you can see from the very doorknobs and carpets that the thing is one vast gaggle of competing cliques. But if "warfare defines human life," that may mean destruction for civil society, but it doesn't mean destruction for the Pentagon. We'll all be the Pentagon, probably including the frozen, numbed remainders of popsicle Britain.)))

"The findings will prove humiliating to the Bush administration, which has repeatedly denied that climate change even exists. (((Only if you assume that the Bush Administration is capable of humiliation, which it isn't. No "weapons of mass destruction"? How 'bout a "climate of mass destruction"? Hey, we're right back in business!))) Experts said that they will also make unsettling reading for a President who has insisted national defence is a priority. (((The guy doesn't read, folks. British Prime Ministers read, but over here, we gave that up. It got in the way.)))

"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. (((Yes he has. Too bad he's eighty-something.))) He was the man behind a sweeping recent review aimed at transforming the American military under Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. (((Whoopee.)))

"Climate change 'should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern', say the authors, Peter Schwartz, CIA consultant (((oh come on))) and former head of planning at Royal Dutch/Shell Group, and Doug Randall of the California-based Global Business Network. (((God bless 'em! They're doing their best!)))

"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. (((That would be Bangladesh, presumably. They always catch it. Imagine a planetary Bangladesh. Well, that's the story.)))

"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. (((Yes, the Bush Administration is a Lysenkoist regime. Don't like the facts? Make something up! Who's gonna stop us? We've got all the guns and all the money!)))

"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.

"Senior climatologists, however, believe that their verdicts could prove the catalyst in forcing Bush to accept climate change as a real and happening phenomenon. They also hope it will convince the United States to sign up to global treaties to reduce the rate of climatic change. (((Dream on. They'd literally rather die. The neocons are more anti-global than Serbia.)))

"A group of eminent UK scientists recently visited the White House to voice their fears over global warming, part of an intensifying drive to get the US to treat the issue seriously. (((They do treat the issue seriously: they are oil company people and regard it as a major threat to the enterprise.))) Sources have told The Observer that American officials appeared extremely sensitive about the issue when faced with complaints that America's public stance appeared increasingly out of touch. (((Well, they know that they are lying. That's why they flinch some. But then again, they lie about all kinds of scientific issues, repeatedly:))) (((And they know they lie, because they do it as a policy.)))

"One even alleged that the White House had written to complain about some of the comments attributed to Professor Sir David King, Tony Blair's chief scientific adviser, after he branded the President's position on the issue as indefensible. (((Also, they make it a policy to always hit anybody who hits them. This King guy was getting Plamed there. They Plame anybody they can. It's what they think tough guys do.)))

"Among those scientists present at the White House talks were Professor John Schellnhuber, former chief environmental adviser to the German government and head of the UK's leading group of climate scientists at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research. He said that the Pentagon's internal fears should prove the 'tipping point' in persuading Bush to accept climatic change. (((Look, Prof. Schellnhuber: it's the oil biz, okay? They don't do "tipping points.")))

"Sir John Houghton, former chief executive of the Meteorological Office – and the first senior figure to liken the threat of climate change to that of terrorism (((yawn))) – said: 'If the Pentagon is sending out that sort of message, then this is an important document indeed.' (((Oh what hokum. It's a cool document, but these meteorologists must live in Cloud-Cuckoo Land. The can't even get weather people to say "Global Warming" aloud on CNN.)))

"Bob Watson, chief scientist for the World Bank and former chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, added that the Pentagon's dire warnings could no longer be ignored. (((Oh yes they can.)))

"'Can Bush ignore the Pentagon? (((Yes.))) It's going be hard to blow off this sort of document. (((No.))) It's hugely embarrassing. (((Only if you are rational and fully aware.))) After all, Bush's single highest priority is national defence. (((Sorry no: getting re-elected has the ultimate priority.)))

"The Pentagon is no wacko, liberal group, generally speaking it is conservative. (((Tell it to DARPA, TIA, and the Office of Special Plans.))) If climate change is a threat to national security and the economy, then he has to act. (((No he doesn't, and even if he does act, it doesn't mean he'd do anything you'd approve of.))) There are two groups the Bush Administration tend to listen to, the oil lobby and the Pentagon,' added Watson. (((Career soldiers didn't put us into those oil fields of Iraq.)))

'You've got a President who says global warming is a hoax, and across the Potomac river you've got a Pentagon preparing for climate wars. (((Hoaxes work great if you've got Fox News and a majority in both houses of Congress.))) It's pretty scary when Bush starts to ignore his own government on this issue,' said Rob Gueterbock of Greenpeace. (((It's ten times scarier when Bush and his government agree on something.)))

"Already, according to Randall and Schwartz, the planet is carrying a higher population than it can sustain. (((No problema, dudes -- Russia will be down to a nice roomy 100 million by 2050, weather violence or no weather violence.))) By 2020 'catastrophic' shortages of water and energy supply will become increasingly harder to overcome, plunging the planet into war. They warn that 8,200 years ago climatic conditions brought widespread crop failure, famine, disease and mass migration of populations that could soon be repeated. (((Famine, disease, death – you got three Horsemen of the Apocalypse right there. You scarcely even need War. My own suspicion is that, under these conditions, you'd find a militarized, heavily rationed, khaki-green GI population spending most of its time in "operations other than war." Stuff like stacking sandbags.)))

"Randall told The Observer that the potential ramifications of rapid climate change would create global chaos. 'This is depressing stuff,' he said. (((Oh come on you big baby – we're not even living it, yet.))) 'It is a national security threat that is unique because there is no enemy to point your guns at and we have no control over the threat.' (((Then get some control, fella. Like, for instance, cut the emissions and build a sustainable infrastructure.)))

"Randall added that it was already possibly too late to prevent a disaster happening. 'We don't know exactly where we are in the process. It could start tomorrow and we would not know for another five years,' he said. (((Okay, fine – then we've got the rest of history to work our way out of that.)))

"'The consequences for some nations of the climate change are unbelievable. It seems obvious that cutting the use of fossil fuels would be worthwhile.' (((Yeah, sure, but not if you sell fossil fuels.)))

"So dramatic are the report's scenarios, Watson said, that they may prove vital in the US elections. Democratic frontrunner John Kerry is known to accept climate change as a real problem. Scientists disillusioned with Bush's stance are threatening to make sure Kerry uses the Pentagon report in his campaign. (((Scientists will be made to pay for that temerity, too, whether they become Democratic political operatives or not.)))

"The fact that Marshall is behind its scathing findings will aid Kerry's cause. Marshall, 82, is a Pentagon legend who heads a secretive think-tank dedicated to weighing risks to national security called the Office of Net Assessment. Dubbed 'Yoda' by Pentagon insiders who respect his vast experience, he is credited with being behind the Department of Defence's push on ballistic-missile defence. (((Boy, there's some sparkling scientific credibility for ya.)))

Yoda speaks:

"Symons, who left the EPA in protest at political interference, (((it's like watching the Exxon Tiger eating a chicken))) said that the suppression of the report was a further instance of the White House trying to bury evidence of climate change. 'It is yet another example of why this government should stop burying its head in the sand on this issue.' (((When will people get it that the Bush team does this on purpose? It's like thinking that they "bury their heads in the sand" about evolution. They don't care about the fact of climate change any more than Enron cared about bookkeeping. You get your hands on the money and the power. Then you just hoax your way out of it afterward. Maybe that only works in the short run, but in the long run, hey, you can put Ronald Reagan on Mount Rushmore.)))

"Symons said the Bush administration's close links to high-powered energy and oil companies was vital in understanding why climate change was received sceptically in the Oval Office. 'This administration is ignoring the evidence in order to placate a handful of large energy and oil companies,' he added. (((They're a "handful" of companies, but the biggest on earth. They control the world's largest industrial enterprise. Oil underpins most everything that spins, rolls or emits heat. There may not be a whole lot of people in the oil business, but it's the planetary business, and for the Bush Administration, it's their own business.)))

(((Now for the exciting part.))),6903,1153514,00.html

"Key findings of the Pentagon

Sunday February 22, 2004 The Observer

"Future wars will be fought over the issue of survival rather than religion, ideology or national honour.

"By 2007 violent storms smash coastal barriers rendering large parts of the Netherlands inhabitable. Cities like The Hague are abandoned. In California the delta island levees in the Sacramento river area are breached, disrupting the aqueduct system transporting water from north to south.

"Between 2010 and 2020 Europe is hardest hit by climatic change with an average annual temperature drop of 6F. Climate in Britain becomes colder and drier as weather patterns begin to resemble Siberia.

"Deaths from war and famine run into the millions until the planet's population is reduced by such an extent the Earth can cope.

"Riots and internal conflict tear apart India, South Africa and Indonesia.

"Access to water becomes a major battleground. The Nile, Danube and Amazon are all mentioned as being high risk.

"A 'significant drop' in the planet's ability to sustain its present population will become apparent over the next 20 years.

"Rich areas like the US and Europe would become 'virtual fortresses' to prevent millions of migrants from entering after being forced from land drowned by sea-level rise or no longer able to grow crops. Waves of boatpeople pose significant problems.

"Nuclear arms proliferation is inevitable. Japan, South Korea, and Germany develop nuclear-weapons capabilities, as do Iran, Egypt and North Korea. Israel, China, India and Pakistan also are poised to use the bomb.

"By 2010 the US and Europe will experience a third more days with peak temperatures above 90F. Climate becomes an 'economic nuisance' as storms, droughts and hot spells create havoc for farmers.

"More than 400m people in subtropical regions at grave risk.

"Europe will face huge internal struggles as it copes with massive numbers of migrants washing up on its shores. Immigrants from Scandinavia seek warmer climes to the south. Southern Europe is beleaguered by refugees from hard-hit countries in Africa.

"Mega-droughts affect the world's major breadbaskets, including America's Midwest, where strong winds bring soil loss.

"China's huge population and food demand make it particularly vulnerable. Bangladesh becomes nearly uninhabitable because of a rising sea level, which contaminates the inland water supplies."

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