In 2003, the U.S. Pentagon commissioned a paper from expert consultants Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall. They were to examine all available research on climate change to better understand potential implications on national security.
Sixteen years ago, scientists cautioned about predicting outcomes. But, comments and warnings in the report seem more relevant today, particularly because 2015 to 2018 were the four hottest years ever recorded.
One eco-activist said Pentagon strategists were thinking in fifty-year time frames and their report presented a bleaker scenario than most environmentalists. Some excerpts:
There is substantial evidence to indicate that significant global warming will occur during the 21st century. …With inadequate preparation, the result could be a significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth’s environment.
…When most people think about climate change, they imagine gradual increases in temperature and only marginal changes in other climatic conditions, continuing indefinitely or even leveling off at some time in the future.
The conventional wisdom is that modern civilization will either adapt to whatever weather conditions we face and that the pace of climate change will not overwhelm the adaptive capacity of society…
Optimists assert that the benefits from technological innovation will be able to outpace the negative effects of climate change.
…This view of climate change may be a dangerous act of self deception, as increasingly we are facing weather related disasters — more hurricanes, monsoons, floods, and dry-spells – in regions around the world…
Today, carrying capacity, which is the ability for the Earth and its natural ecosystems including social, economic, and cultural systems to support the finite number of people on the planet, is being challenged around the world.
…It is quite plausible that within a decade the evidence of an imminent abrupt climate shift may become clear and reliable. …United States will need to take urgent action to prevent and mitigate some of the most significant impacts.
…However, large population movements in this scenario are inevitable. Learning how to manage those populations, border tensions that arise and the resulting refugees will be critical.
…Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life.