Abrupt climate change has been a growing topic of concern for about a decade for climate scientists, who fear that global warming could shut down the ocean conveyer that warms the North Atlantic, plunging Europe and parts of North America into Siberian-like conditions within a few decades or even years. But it was only with the recent appearance of a Pentagon report on the possible social effects—in terms of instability and war—of abrupt climate change that it riveted public attention. As the Observer (February 22) put it, “Climate change over the next 20 years could result in global catastrophe costing millions of lives in wars and natural disasters.”
Indeed, widespread public alarm, particularly in Europe, was the predictable response to the Pentagon’s October 2003 report, An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Security, once it became available early this year.1 In an attempt to quiet these fears Defense Department officials and the authors of the report quickly came forward to say that the entire exercise was speculative and “intentionally extreme” that the whole thing had been misconstrued and overblown in certain press accounts.
Was this then simply a “hullabaloo” about nothing, as the San Francisco Chronicle suggested, or are there dangers associated with global warming that have not been sufficiently appreciated thus far? To answer this question it is necessary to approach the issue in stages, by first addressing global warming, then abrupt climate change and its inherent social dangers, and finally how the present system of production constitutes a barrier to any ready solution.
Global Warming: How Bad Is It?
A natural greenhouse effect is crucial to the earth’s atmosphere. As carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases accumulate in the atmosphere they trap heat that would otherwise radiate off into space. This natural greenhouse effect along with proximity to the sun serves to warm the earth making it habitable to diverse species. But now, as a result of enhanced greenhouse gas emissions from human production, most notably the burning of fossil fuels, this same life-supporting greenhouse effect is pushing average global temperatures higher and higher. Carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere is now at its highest point in the last 420,000 years and likely in the last 20 million years. Rising sea levels, heat waves, crop failures, worsening floods and droughts, and more extreme weather conditions in general are all to be expected as a result of such increases in average global temperature.
Some of the warming to be experienced in coming decades is already locked-in. Greenhouse gases have atmospheric lifetimes of decades to centuries. Even if societies were to cease fossil fuel use and end all other forms of greenhouse gas emissions today the accumulation of such gases in the atmosphere would likely generate further warming on the order of 0.5°C (0.9°F) during this century. While if we do nothing to limit such emissions global average surface temperature could conceivably rise as much as 5.8°C (10.4°F) between 1990 and 2100, exceeding the change in average temperature separating us from the last ice age. Few informed analysts now expect the increase in average global temperature from 1990–2100 to be kept below a 2°C (3.6°F) increase, even with the most concerted social action over the next couple of decades. The main fear at present is that the rise in global temperature will be two or three times as large if human society is unable to act decisively.2
Global warming is expected to be a growing factor in coming decades in species extinction, the rate of which at present is higher than at any time since the disappearance of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. In mountainous regions all around the earth plant and animal species are ascending higher and higher as warming occurs. But mountains only reach so far. Consequently, the species occupying the topmost ecological niches are now in the process of ascending “to heaven.”3 We do not know how many other species will share this fate during this century. But we do know that the earth’s species in general will be massively affected, that biological diversity will continue to decrease, and that if we do nothing and average global temperatures rise to the upper levels that leading climate scientists think possible by the year 2100 it could prove catastrophic, seriously threatening ecosystems and destabilizing human society.
Still, the ruling economic and political interests and their attendant elites tell us not to be worried. Never mind the threats to other species. Human society, we are frequently told, is different. It can evolve rapidly by economic and technological means and thus adapt to global warming, which from its standpoint can be viewed as slow, “gradual” change. What is often projected for global society then is increased discomfort rather than massive social upheaval and dislocation. Orthodox economists generally caution that we should do nothing that might limit economic growth. Instead they see the only answer as lying in a bigger economy, which will give us more means of addressing future contingencies.
Abrupt Climate Change
Nevertheless, there is every reason to believe that placing so much faith in economic growth and technological change as answers to global warming is short-sighted and naive. Considerable uncertainty exists as to how far human society can actually support such “gradual” climate change—since human beings are themselves part of nature and dependent on the world around them in manifold ways. But the problem does not stop there. Scientists are now raising the even more alarming question of abrupt climate change, i.e., climate change of a scale and suddenness—shifting dramatically in years rather than decades or centuries—that would definitely have catastrophic effects for human society.
Abrupt climate change is usually seen as change arising from gradual causes that lead to the crossing of a threshold, triggering a sudden shift to a new state—with the shift determined by the climate system itself and occurring at a rate much faster than the initial cause.4 Such shifts have occurred numerous times in history, one of the clearest being the abrupt cooling of the Younger Dryas (named after an arctic wildflower that thrived in the climate of the time), which began 12,700 years ago and lasted 1,300 years, interrupting the warming associated with the end of the last ice age. A lesser instance of abrupt climate change occurred 8,200 years ago and lasted around a century. In the worst of all current, plausible scenarios, such “abrupt climate change” could occur sometime over the next couple of decades—though this is still seen by scientists as highly unlikely.
Abrupt climate change is believed to result from disruption of the thermohaline circulation, a global ocean conveyor that moves warm, saline tropical waters northward in the Atlantic with the Gulf Stream as its northern arm, and then loops south. (“Thermohaline” comes from the Greek words for heat “thermos” and for salt “halos.”) The heat from this warmer water, when it reaches the North Atlantic, is released into the atmosphere, creating milder winters than would otherwise exist at those latitudes, and allowing the dense surface waters to cool and sink. This draws additional warmer, saline water from the south, helping to keep the conveyor going. Differences in the density of ocean waters associated with the saline content thus drive this ocean conveyor. Abrupt climate change arises from a lessening or collapse of the thermohaline circulation due to increased river runoff, melting ice, and changes in precipitation—all of which serve to increase the amount of freshwater supplied to the North Atlantic. As the salinity of the ocean waters decreases a dramatic lessening or complete collapse of the North Atlantic conveyor circulation can occur. The current global warming is seen as potentially triggering this effect. According to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), in Climate Change 2001, “beyond 2100, the thermohaline circulation could completely, and possibly irreversibly, shut-down in either hemisphere” if global warming is “large enough and applied long enough” (p. 16).
Two basic scenarios are worth considering. (1) If the ocean conveyor slows down or collapses during the next two decades it could cool the North Atlantic region by as much as 5°C (9°F), creating winters of much greater severity. (2) If, however, the conveyor slows down in a century the drop in temperature in the North Atlantic could temporarily compensate for the rise in surface temperature associated with the enhanced greenhouse effect—though once the thermohaline circulation recovered the “deferred” warming could be delivered within a decade. The second of these two scenarios is viewed as much more likely. Yet, recent scientific studies, including a major report in 2002 by the National Academy of Sciences, have stressed that the thermohaline circulation could possibly “decrease…very fast,”—resulting in a sudden switch of climate early this century that although still thought unlikely cannot be ruled out altogether. Seeming to confirm these fears, a report in Nature in 2002 concluded that the North Atlantic has been freshening dramatically for 40 years; while a report a year earlier suggested that the ocean conveyor may already be slowing down.5
Faced with the uncertain hazards of such a “low probability, high impact” event, scientists associated with the National Academy of Sciences study recommended that society take what steps it could, if not too costly, to protect itself against such an extreme outcome. “If a shutdown were to happen soon,” Richard Alley, who chaired the scientific team releasing the National Academy of Sciences study, observed in The Two-Mile Time Machine, “it could produce a large event, perhaps almost as large as the Younger Dryas, dropping northern temperatures and spreading droughts far larger than the changes that have affected humans through recorded history, and perhaps speeding warming in the far south. The end of humanity? No. An uncomfortable time for humanity? Yes.”6
These assessments and recommendations on abrupt climate change were offered with so much caution by climate scientists that they might easily have been ignored altogether by a society that in its upper echelons is devoted to the accumulation of capital and little else. That this did not happen is due to the fact that the issue was taken up and dramatized in the Pentagon report.
The Pentagon Elevates the Threat
The story behind the Pentagon report on abrupt climate change is almost as remarkable as the contents of the report itself. The National Academy study of this issue crossed the desk of Andrew Marshall, director of the Pentagon’s Office of Net Assessment. Marshall, who has worked for every secretary of defense since James Schlesinger in the 1970s, is a legendary “wise man,” known as “Yoda,” at the Pentagon. When they need someone to think about big things, the Department of Defense turns to Marshall. His most famous achievement was the promotion of missile defense. It was Marshall who authorized the $100,000 grant for Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall of the Global Business Network to analyze abrupt climate change for the Pentagon. The intent was obviously to have economic futurologists visualize the possible effects of such abrupt climate change, since they would be in the best position to speculate on the economic and social fallout of such a catastrophic development, and thus upgrade it to a major Pentagon concern.
Schwartz was a surprising choice for such a task since he was best known previously for his book The Long Boom (1999). In the 1990s he was a contributing writer to Wired magazine. Together with Peter Leyden, a senior editor of the magazine, and Joe Hyatt of the Stanford University Business School he got caught up in the idea that the New Economy, rooted in today’s digital high technology, pointed to a long economic boom stretching from 1980 to at least 2020. During this time the economy would, they argued in the book, simply “grow more” based on the New Economy model pioneered by the United States, with global growth of “possibly even 6 percent” (p. 266). Their first version of this thesis in their Wired article on the long boom came out in July 1997 and created a stir. The article together with the book that followed two years later, constituted the most extreme version of the great millennial celebration. According to Schwartz and his coauthors, who grossly misunderstood the main economic tendencies of the time, the U.S. economy was rocketing throughout the 1990s and was likely to accelerate further in the 2000s. All such New Economy mythology was put to an end, however, by the bursting of the speculative bubble and the dramatic stock market decline of 2000, followed by recession in 2001 and slow growth and employment stagnation ever since. Nevertheless, it was to Schwartz, the failed prophet of a long New Economy boom, to whom Marshall turned to dramatize the consequences of abrupt climate change.7
An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and its Implications for United States National Securityby Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall begins by challenging the way in which climate change is usually approached:
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, or that our efforts such as those embodied in the Kyoto protocol will be sufficient to mitigate the impacts. The IPCC documents the threat of gradual climate change and its impact to food supplies and other resources of importance to humans will not be so severe as to create security threats. Optimists assert that the benefits from technological innovation will be able to outpace the negative effects of climate change.
Climatically, the gradual 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 (p. 4).
Schwartz and Randall argue against such complacent views of global warming, insisting that they do not take sufficient account of the discontinuities that may arise as warming causes various thresholds to be crossed. More frequent droughts, for example, could have disastrous and cumulative effects. Still, the worst effects from such gradual warming are seen as applying mainly to the poorer countries of the global South rather than the richer countries of the global North—the main source of carbon dioxide emissions. All of this encourages a do-nothing or do-little attitude in the northern centers of world power.
Abrupt climate change alters this picture dramatically. Such change would create catastrophic conditions for human society; and rather than falling first and foremost on the global South the direct effects of a shutdown of the thermohaline conveyor would bear down on the global North—specifically those countries bordering the North Atlantic. Schwartz and Randall are clear that they are not actually predicting such abrupt climate change in the near future (though it is certain to occur in the long-term future). Rather, they offer a “plausible” if unlikely scenario “for which there is reasonable evidence” so as to “explore potential implications for United States national security” (p. 5). They model their scenario on the event of 8,200 years ago rather than on the much worse Younger Dryas. In their scenario a “thermohaline circulation collapse” causes a drop in average surface temperature in northern Europe of up to 3.3°C (6°F) along with severe temperature drops throughout the North Atlantic, lasting about a century. Colder temperatures, wind and dryness in the global North are accompanied by increased warmth and drought in much of the rest of the world.
The picture they paint is one of agricultural decline and extreme weather conditions, stretching energy resources, throughout the globe. Relatively well-off populations with ample natural resources and food producing capabilities, such as the United States and Australia, are seen as building “defensive fortresses” around themselves to keep massive waves of would-be immigrants out, while much of the world gyrates toward war. “Violence and disruption stemming from the stresses created by abrupt changes in the climate pose a different type of threat to national security than we are accustomed to today. Military confrontation may be triggered by a desperate need for natural resources such as energy, food and water rather than by conflicts over ideology, religion, or national honor. The shifting motivation for confrontation would alter which countries are most vulnerable and the existing warning signs for security threats” (p. 14). As the world’s carrying capacity declines under harsh climatic conditions, warfare becomes widespread—producing increased dangers of thermonuclear war.
For Schwartz and Randall the lesson is clear. Human society must “prepare for the inevitable effects of abrupt climate change—which will likely come [the only question is when] regardless of human activity” (p. 21). If the scenario that they depict is actually in the cards, it is already too late to do anything to stop it. What can be done under these circumstances is to make sure that the necessary security measures are in place to stave off the most disastrous consequences resulting from social instability. Since this is a report commissioned by the Pentagon, the emphasis is on how to “create vulnerability metrics” to determine which countries are likely to be hit the hardest ecologically, economically, and socially and thus will be propelled in the direction of war. Such information will make it possible for the United States to act in its own security interest. The narrow objective is thus to safeguard fortress America at all cost.
Although the ecological repercussions are supposed to hit the global North the hardest, the scenario provided by the Pentagon report with respect to instability and war follows conventional ideological paths, focusing mostly on the global South. The possibility that the United States itself might in such circumstances attempt to seize world oil supplies and other natural resources is not raised by the report. The U.S. response is depicted as entirely defensive, mainly concerned with holding off unwelcome waves of would-be immigrants, and trying to create an atmosphere of peace and stability in the world under much harsher global conditions.
Given the contents of this report it is not surprising that it initially generated dismay and widespread fears when it was made public in February. At that point the Pentagon quickly stepped in to quiet the alarm that the report had set off. Marshall himself released a statement that the Pentagon study “reflects the limits of scientific models and information when it comes to predicting the effects of abrupt global warming.” Although backed up by “significant scientific evidence…much of what this study predicts,” Marshall indicated, “is still speculation.” Pentagon officials meanwhile declared that the abrupt climate change report, although commissioned by their legendary “Yoda,” had not been passed on to Marshall’s superiors in the Defense Department and the Bush administration (San Francisco Chronicle, February 25, 2004; New York Times, February 29, 2004).
Yet the real importance of An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario does not lie in its impact on the top brass in the Pentagon much less their environmentally-challenged superiors in the White House. Instead, its historical significance derives from the more general contention made at the beginning of the report that “because of the potentially dire consequences, the risk of abrupt climate change, although uncertain and quite possibly small, should be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a U.S. national security concern” (p. 3). It is a small step from this view to one that insists that the nature of the threat demands that we begin to consider other, radical social alternatives to business as usual, which must be elevated to the forefront of public discussions.
Accelerated Climate Change
Here it is crucial to recognize that abrupt climate change as currently modeled by scientists, though the most dramatic, is not the only nongradual outcome possible as a result of global warming. Scientists are even more concerned at present about the potential for positive feedbacks that will greatly amplify global warming, increasing the rate of its advance and the speed with which it crosses various ecological thresholds. According to the IPCC in Climate Change 2001, “As the CO2 concentration of the atmosphere increases, ocean and land will take up a decreasing fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The net effect of land and ocean climate feedbacks as indicated by models is to further increase projected atmospheric CO2 concentrations, by reducing both the ocean and land uptake of CO2” (p. 12). The hydrological cycle (evaporation, precipitation, and runoff) could accelerate as a result of global warming, driving temperatures higher faster. Water vapor, the most potent natural greenhouse gas, could trap additional heat increasing the rate at which average surface temperatures rise. The melting of highly reflective ice and snow could result in further absorbtion of sunlight, leading to additional global warming. The capacity of both forests and oceans to absorb carbon dioxide could decrease, creating a positive feedback loop that accelerates climate change. All of this is taken into account to some extent in the IPCC reports. But given the level of uncertainty the possibility of surprising developments under these circumstances is very great.
The grim reality is that the more threatening scenarios with respect to global warming are becoming increasingly plausible as the data keeps coming in. Carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere increased at an accelerated level over the past year. The increase of 3 parts per million was well above the 1.8 parts per million annual increase on average over the past decade, and three times the year-to-year increase experienced half a century ago. Although it is too soon to be sure if this means anything or not (it may reflect mere annual variance), this kind of evidence is leading scientists to worry that positive feedbacks may already be at work, serving to accelerate the whole problem (New York Times, March 21, 2004).
Capitalism and Carbon Dioxide
Both the capitalist economy and the world climate represent complex, dynamic systems. The uncertainty with respect to climate change and its economic effects has to do with the interaction of these two complex systems. To make matters worse, both the climate system and the human economy are subsets of the biosphere and are inseparably interconnected in extremely complex ways with innumerable other biogeochemical processes. Many of these other biospheric processes are also being transformed by human action.
It is not uncommon for analyses of climate change to assume that the world economy is essentially healthy except for disturbances that could result from the climate. This, however, is in error and underestimates the economic vulnerability of populations and whole societies. As indicated only a few months ago in this space, at present “half the world’s population lives on less than two dollars per day, with most of those either chronically malnourished or continually concerned with where their next meal will come from. Many have no access to clean water (1 billion), electricity (2 billion), or sanitation (2.5 billion)” (Fred Magdoff, “A Precarious Existence,” Monthly Review, February 2004). Economic growth is slowing in ways that have deepened the economic crisis for human populations. At the same time, “nature’s economy” is also in trouble, viewed in terms of the diversity of life on the planet. Economic and ecological vulnerabilities are everywhere.
For the Pentagon, the answer to all of these dangers would seem to be straightforward: arm to the teeth, prepare for greater threats than ever from thermonuclear war, and build an impregnable wall around the United States, closing the global masses out. All of this is depicted by Schwartz and Randall. Yet a more rational response to potential high-impact climate events would be to seek to reorganize society, and to move away from imperatives of accumulation, exploitation, and degradation of the natural environment—the “after me the deluge” philosophy—that lies at the base of most of our global problems.
The truth is that addressing the global warming threat to any appreciable degree would require at the very least a chipping away at the base of the system. The scientific consensus on global warming suggests that what is needed is a 60–80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels in the next few decades in order to avoid catastrophic environmental effects by the end of this century—if not sooner. The threatening nature of such reductions for capitalist economies is apparent in the rather hopeless state at present of the Kyoto Protocol, which required the rich industrial countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 5.2 percent below 1990 levels by 2008–2012. The United States, which had steadily increased its carbon dioxide emissions since 1990 despite its repeated promises to limit its emissions, pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in 2001 on the grounds that it was too costly. Yet, the Kyoto Protocol was never meant to be anything but the first, small, in itself totally inadequate step to curtail emissions. The really big cuts were to follow.
Even if the Kyoto Protocol were to be enacted (its future right now is uncertain and depends largely on whether Russia decides to go along with the climate treaty) this would only open the door to bigger questions: Will the rich countries of the global North agree to cut their carbon emissions to the extent required? How can the poorer countries of the global South be brought into the climate accord? There would be little opportunity for most of these poor countries—still the victims of imperialism—to develop economically if they were forced to cut back sharply in their average level of per capita greenhouse gas emissions at this point. Since the atmosphere cannot support increasing levels of carbon dioxide and most of its capacity to do so without high levels of global warming has already been taken up by the rich countries of the center, countries in the periphery are likely to be severely constrained in their use of fossil fuels unless the countries in the center drastically reduce their levels of emissions—on the order of 80–90 percent.
Third world countries insist that the North has an ecological debt to the South, arising from a history of ecological imperialism, and that the only way to redress this and to create a just and sustainable climate regime is to base any solution on per capita emissions. Such a position is rooted in the recognition that the United States, to take the most notorious example, emits 5.6 metric tons of carbon dioxide per person per year,8 while the whole rest of the world outside of the G-7 countries (the United States, Canada, Germany, Britain, Japan, Italy and France) releases only 0.7 tons of carbon dioxide per person annually on average.9 Inequality of this kind is a major barrier to a smooth climate transition and means that the necessary change must be revolutionary in nature. The only just and sustainable climate regime will be one in which there is a contraction of per capita carbon dioxide emissions to levels that are globally sustainable, together with a convergence of rich and poor countries around these low, globally sustainable emissions levels. Such safe per capita emissions levels would be less than a tenth of what the North currently emits per capita. One estimate claims that “based on the 1990 target for climate stabilization, everyone in the world would have a per capita allowance of carbon of around 0.4 tonnes, per year.”10
Obviously, equalization of per capita emissions at low levels for all countries is not something that the United States and the other nations at the center of the system will readily accept. Yet third world countries that desperately need development cannot be expected to give up the right to equality in per capita emissions. Any attempt to impose the main burdens for global warming on underdeveloped countries in accordance with past imperialistic practices will thus inevitably fail. To the extent that the United States and other advanced capitalist nations promote such a strategy they will only push the world into a state of barbarism, while catastrophically undermining the human relation to the biosphere.
Easter Island and the Earth
For environmentalists the destruction of the ecology and civilization of Easter Island around 1400–1600 A.D. has long been both a mystery and metaphor for our times. We now know that the giant stone statues, the erection of which resulted in the destruction of the island’s forests and with them a whole ecology and civilization, were the main symbols of the power and prestige of competing chiefs and their clans. As Jared Diamond explains: “A chief’s status depended on his statues: any chief who failed to cut trees to transport and erect statues would have found himself out of a job.”11 Due to such a narrow acquisitive logic—an early treadmill of production analogous to our own—the Easter Islanders drove their ecology and society to the point of extinction.
Are we headed for a similar disaster today—only on a planetary scale? To quote Diamond again:
Thanks to globalization, international trade, jet planes, and the Internet, all countries on Earth today share resources and affect each other, just as did Easter’s eleven clans. Polynesian Easter Island was as isolated in the Pacific Ocean as the Earth is today in space. When the Easter Islanders got into difficulties, there was nowhere to which they could flee, or to which they could turn for help; nor shall we modern Earthlings have recourse elsewhere if our troubles increase. Those are the reasons why people see the collapse of Easter Island society as a metaphor, a worst-case scenario, for what may lie ahead in our own future.
Easter Island society got into trouble because of a class system. With its island world increasingly under ecological strain, the chiefs and priests were overthrown by military leaders and the society descended into the barbarism of civil war and then declined completely. Here too is a lesson for our time: we need to confront the class system and reorganize society in line with the needs of all of its inhabitants before barbarism descends upon us.
The Pentagon report itself takes on a different meaning here. It depicted abrupt climate change and a descent into internecine war. It was “intentionally extreme.” But as the fate of Easter Island suggests, it may not have been extreme enough.
- ↩ Available at www.ems.org.
- ↩ Thomas R. Karl & Kevin E. Trenberth, “Modern Global Climate Change,” Science 302, p. 1721; Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), pp. 7, 13; Tom Athanasiou & Paul Baer, Dead Heat (New York: Seven Stories, 2002), pp. 43–47.
- ↩ “All Downhill from Here?,” Science 303 (March 12, 2004).
- ↩ National Research Council, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises (Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press, 2002) p. 14.
- ↩ Robert B. Gagosian, “Abrupt Climate Change: Should We Be Worried?,” World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland, January 27, 2003, http://www.whoi.edu; National Research Council, Abrupt Climate Change, pp. 115–16B. Dickson, et. al., “Rapid Freshening in the Deep Atlantic Ocean Over the Past Four Decades,” Nature, 416 (April 25, 2002); B. Hansen, et. al., “Decreasing Overflow from the Nordic Seas into the Atlantic Ocean Through the Faroe Bank Channel Since 1950,” Nature, 411 (June 21, 2001).
- ↩ Richard B. Alley, The Two-Mile Time Machine (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), p. 184.
- ↩ There were no doubt rational motives to assigning the task of writing such a report to Schwartz, who had shown that he had all the necessary dramatic skills of the professional futurologist. Given his past history, and his absolute faith in the system, he could not be viewed as a prophet of doom and gloom or as an enemy of business. Further, a paragraph of The Long Boom (p. 153) had actually pointed to the possibility of a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation and the coming of a “another Ice Age”—though this was introduced in a generally pollyannaish view of the ecological crisis in which the “long boom” itself provided all the answers.
- ↩ Measured in carbon units.
- ↩ John Bellamy Foster, Ecology Against Capitalism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2002), p. 18; John Bellamy Foster and Brett Clark, “Ecological Imperialism: The Curse of Capitalism,” in Leo Panitch and Colin Leys, ed., The Socialist Register 2004 (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2004), pp. 186–201.
- ↩ Andrew Sims, Aubrey Meyer, and Nick Robbins, Who Owes Who?: Climate Change, Debt, Equity and Survival http://www.jubilee2000uk.; Athanasiou and Baer, Dead Heat, pp. 63–97.
- ↩ Jared Diamond, “Twilight at Easter,” New York Review of Books, March 25, 2004, pp. 6–10.