Scientists, Military: Global Warming Could Cause U.S. Security Problems

Issues over water rights and global issues spurred by changing climate could be in nation's future

"Water is connected to everything we care about - energy, human health, food production and politics," said Glieck, who was not part of either panel. "And that fact alone means we better pay more attention to the security connections. Climate will effect all of those things. Water resources are especially vulnerable to climate change."

As water fights erupt between nations and regions and especially between cities and agricultural areas, Stanford scientist Terry Root said there will be one sure loser low on the priority list for water: other species.

"The fish will lose out and the birds and everything," she said.

Pollution will also worsen with global warming, the scientists said.

As places like the Great Lakes draw down on water, the pollution inside will get more concentrated and trapped toxins will come more to the surface, said Stanford scientist Stephen Schneider.

And even the air, especially in the Northeast, will become more deadly. More heat means more smog cooked and about a 4 to 5 percent increase in smog-related deaths, Ebi said. That's thousands of people, she said.

The scientists and military leaders held out hope that dramatic cuts in fossil fuel emissions could prevent much of the harm they are predicting. But they said the U.S. government - and the rest of the world - has to act now.


On the Net:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change chapter on global warming impacts in North America:

The CNA Corporation's report on global warming and national security:

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