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In addition to al-Qaida and WMDs, even climate change is keeping strategic planners at the Pentagon busy these days. With some interesting insight into the earthquakes and droughts that we know are soon to come, David Stipp of Fortune summarized the threat like this: “Global warming, rather than causing gradual, centuries-spanning change, may be pushing the climate to a tipping point. Growing evidence suggests the ocean-atmosphere system that controls the world's climate can lurch from one state to another in less than a decade—like a canoe that's gradually tilted until suddenly it flips over. Scientists don't know how close the system is to a critical threshold. But abrupt climate change may well occur in the not-too-distant future. If it does, the need to rapidly adapt may overwhelm many societies—thereby upsetting the geopolitical balance of power.”
In the recent past, most environmental/climate alarms have been sounded in regard to gradual change, but that has now shifted to abrupt change, which is something that would certainly concern planners at the Pentagon. The Department of Defense commissioned Peter Schwartz, former head of planning for Royal Dutch/Shell Group, to study the risk of abrupt climate change. The recently released report was shared with Fortune, and was interestingly summarized by Stipp in the latter half of his article. Unfortunately, he begins the scenario at 2010, which may be a critical mistake. What if it starts much earlier? What if it has already begun?