GOD GAMES AT THE PENTAGON
The New Terms of Human Survival
We’ve known for some time that we have to worry about the impacts of cli-
mate change on our children’s and grandchildren’s generations. But now we
have to worry about ourselves as well.
— MARGARET BECKETT, BRITISH SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Our house is burning down and we’ve been blind to it. . . . The earth and man-
kind are in danger and we are all responsible. . . . We cannot say that we did
not know! Climate warming is still reversible. Heavy will be the responsibility
of those who refused to fight it.
— JACQUES CHIRAC, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE
It is well known that strategic planners at the Pentagon use some of the most sophisticated computer systems in the world to play war games. These interactive games, which are similar in design and function to the God- game described in the previous chapter, simulate armed conflicts between sovereign nation-states. The challenge to the players is to minimize threats to the national security of the United States with a well-orchestrated se- ries of moves ranging from diplomatic initiatives to armed intervention. But what is not widely known is that researchers at the Pentagon also use these computer-based simulations to study potential threats to national security that could be occasioned by abrupt large-scale changes in the global environment.
Until recently, few people outside the inner circle of high-level military strategists and political planners knew about these godgames, because the results of previous reports on them were classified. For reasons that have yet to be determined, however, a copy of the latest report, “An Abrupt Climate Change Scenario and Its Implications for United States National