Holbrooke's Amazing Global Warming Claim

For some, global warming is the sinister cause of every problem plaguing the world-even the conflict between India and Pakistan.

This misapprehension has apparently taken hold of Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan. According to Bob Woodward’s new book, Obama’s Wars, Holbrooke believes there is a “global warming dimension” of the India-Pakistan conflict.

”In one discussion about the tensions between Pakistan and India,” Woodward wrote, “Holbrooke introduced a new angle. ‘There’s a global-warming dimension of this struggle, Mr. President,’ he said.”

Woodward wrote that Holbrooke’s “words baffled many in the room.” It’s not hard to see why. 

“‘There are tens of thousands of Indian and Pakistani troops encamped on the glaciers in the Himalayas that feed the rivers into Pakistan and India,’ [Holbrooke] said. ‘Their encampments are melting the glaciers very quickly. There’s a chance that river valleys in Pakistan and perhaps even India could be flooded.’


Woodward reported that attendees were incredulous. “After the meeting,” Woodward wrote, “there were several versions of one question: Was Holbrooke kidding? He was not. Holbrooke subsequently detailed his concerns in a written report.”

I among many others would surely like to read Holbrooke’s report. I wonder if it notes the massive gaffe committed by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the scientific body responsible for, among other treasures, the Kyoto Protocol.

Back in January, the IPCC was forced to retract a claim, buried in its dense 2007 climate change report, that the Himalayan glaciers would very likely melt away by 2035 (“very likely” in the IPCC’s rendering means more than a 90% chance of occurring). It turns out the IPCC was off by 300 years.

The mistake sparked an international outcry. Rajendra Pachauri, the controversial head of the IPCC, admitted that “the clear and well-established standards of evidence required by the IPCC procedures were not applied properly.” One wonders what those procedures looked like.

In fact, the 2035 claim was based on a 2005 paper by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), an activist environmental group. WWF in turn got it from an Indian glaciologist who, according to the Guardian newspaper in London, conceded that his work was “speculative.” Glaciologists interviewed by that paper said that “Himalayan glaciers contain so much ice it will be 300 years before it vanishes.”

It turned out that the glacier gaffe was one of many undermining the credibility of the IPCC’s 2007 report, and of the IPCC itself. I have followed the inner workings of the IPCC for years, so these revelations came as no surprise. Yet I would have hoped that a senior government official responsible for such a sensitive matter as relations between India and Pakistan would know better.

Even more troubling is Holbrooke’s apparent acceptance of the notion that global warming poses national security threats, requiring the imposition of energy rationing schemes such as cap-and-trade, at home and abroad, to alleviate international conflict.

But those schemes, as even the Environmental Protection Agency has confirmed, would do little to affect climate or Earth’s temperature, and therefore would be of no consequence in international relations.

What they would do is harm America’s economy through, among other things, higher costs for energy, food, and other consumer goods, more dependence on foreign oil, and further decline of our manufacturing base.

That, not global warming, is the real national security threat.