Nor should we overlook the fact that the Pentagon, which is
responsible for 90 percent of the fuel used by the federal government ($16 billion in 2008), is a giant engine for economic
growth. (Think: the internet, GPS, flat-screen televisions.) If the
secretary of the navy is correct, the Great Green Fleet will become an emblem of a more sustainable future.
But this is only part of the story, as the QDR makes clear:
A series of powerful cross-cutting trends, made more complex by the ongoing economic crisis, threatens to complicate
international relations and make the exercise of U.S. statecraft more difficult. The rising demand for resources, rapid
urbanization of littoral regions, the effects of climate change,
the emergence of new strains of disease, and profound cultural and demographic tensions in several regions are just
some of the trends whose complex interplay may spark or
exacerbate future conflicts.
Strategists have long recognized the connection between en-
vironmental stress and war. According to Michael Klare, an au-
thority on the subject, “While many academics and politicians
cling to the ‘clash of civilizations’ paradigm to explain world
a=airs, those who have been watching developments closely
recognize that ethnic and religious schisms are often caused
or worsened by competition over scarce supplies of land, food,
and water.” Such competition will deepen as the climate warms,
causing floods in some areas and drought in others. Rich crop-
lands will become deltas or deserts: fertile conditions for extrem-
ists avid to exploit hunger and misery for their own purposes.
This will likely lead to more conflicts, more calls for military in-
tervention, more humanitarian and disaster-relief missions. The
Pentagon must also plan for hurricanes, tornados, wildfires, and
the flooding of its installations and training grounds. No fleet or
army on earth will be able to manage all the problems that the
changing climate will bring.
sooN aFTer 9/11, in a seminar on lessons of the tragedy, an
intelligence professional lamented the inability to synthesize information when the attack was looming— to connect the dots.
After the seminar, I told her that I live in a place, Iowa City,