Thursday, January 25, 2007

US DoD Pays Good Money for Abrupt Global Cooling Report and Fails to Mention Coal

Shisaku reports here on a climate change report (this and other links available on the Shisaku post) commissioned by the US Department of Defense. DoD, perhaps feeling the need to get in on the new-found White House interest on the issue, focuses in this report on a crises-driving, abrupt global cooling scenario.

Where does Japan fit into this picture? This is what the report has to say in the main text:

"Picture Japan, suffering from flooding along its coastal cities and contamination of its fresh water supply, eying Russia's Sakhalin Island oil and gas reserves as an energy source to power desalination plants and energy-intensive agricultural processes."

But wait a minute. Most of our reservoirs are fairly well above current sea levels. Makes sense too. Maybe a few communities here and there will have problems, but eyeing Russian gas and oil to fuel desalination plants?

But among other things, crops will fail around the world. And Japan will be cooler too. So Japan having a need for more "energy-intensive" greenhouse/hydroponic agriculture is not out of the question. As long as the Pacific Ocean and Japan Sea don't dry up, we'll have water on the archipelago, but there will very likely be less of it if the climate cools down. Who knows, you could probably make some assumptions, then do some calculations, and figure out at what point a water deficit would kick in that would be sufficient to require substantial desalination.

In any case, the report says we'll have a "[s]trategic agreement between Japan and Russia for Siberia and Sakhalin energy resources" in 2015. So, what, me worry? (Which reminds me, readers, of a question I've always wanted to ask you, which head of state when he smiles most resembles Alfred E. Newman?) Actually, we will have a problem because in 2030, there will be "[t]ension growing between China and Japan over Russian energy”. In which case, the "projection capability" we begin developing in 2012 in the face of "regional instability" will come in handy.

So, according to the scenario, we're the good guys, the Chinese are the bad guys, so building up our military capabilities is a good thing, as a sort of no-regrets policy for global cooling. Nice. However, perhaps unintentionally, the report overlooks the obvious point that we, and even more the Chinese, indeed the whole planet, would feel much less reluctant to burn coal. Which would spoil the entire scenario. There would be substantial pressure from the other side, which would point to the likely long-term consequences of putting even more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, but it would be a very attractive short-term response that would kill two birds (and perhaps the environment as we know it) with one lump.

In fact, the word "coal" appears not once in this entire report. Senator Byrd (D), Senator Rockefeller (D) will be disappointed.

This must have been fun. Did they actually get paid to write this report? How do I get in on this racket?

Seriously, an abrupt global cooling process is a possible event (it has happened before), so somebody should be thinking about it. But perhaps the more significant message of this DoD report from the administration's point of view could be the following reiteration of a fairly well-regarded outlook on the regional effects of global warming:

"Climatically, the gradual change view of the future assumes that agriculture will continue to thrive and growing seasons will lengthen. Northern Europe, Russia, and North America will prosper agriculturally while southern Europe, Africa, and Central and South America will suffer from increased dryness, heat, water shortages, and reduced production. Overall, global food production under many typical climate scenarios increases."

No comments: