Woolsey: common ground for tree huggers, war hawks

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Attempts to solve the world’s problems can make strange bedfellows — and counter terrorism experts and environmentalists can agree about the solutions, even if they can’t about the problems.
Former CIA Director James Woolsey will discuss security and energy — and the solutions to both issues — at 11 a.m. Oct. 5 at The Broadmoor, during an event sponsored by the World Affairs Council.
“I always say that people coming from different directions on different problems will agree on the solutions a surprising amount of the time,” he said. “Tree huggers, war hawks, do-gooders, farmers and Willie Nelson all have a stake in this issue, and they can agree on the solutions.”
Woolsey said there are two sides to the energy problem: electricity and transportation. Both contribute to carbon emissions and both are vulnerable to terrorist attack. Through alternatives such as electric cars, and solar or wind energy, both problems can be solved.
“War hawks never have to agree on global warming, and environmentalists never have to agree on how to fight the terrorists,” he said. “But both will find themselves agreeing on the solution.”
Woolsey is a vice president in Booz Allen Hamilton’s energy practice in McLean, Va. He has held presidential appointments in two Republican and two Democratic administrations, and practiced civil litigation with Shea and Gardner.
He is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, ambassador to the negotiation on conventional armed forces in Europe, under secretary of the Navy and general counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.
He also was appointed as delegate at large to the U.S.-Soviet Strategic Arms Reduction Talks, and the Nuclear and Space Arms Talks. As an officer in the U.S. Army, he was an adviser on the U.S. Delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks.
The World Affairs Council is bringing Woolsey to the Springs because of the increasing importance of energy, said WAC member Larry Barrett.
“It’s an important economic and security issue,” he said. “And Mr. Woolsey was an attractive person to speak on the subject. He’s definitely one of the thought leaders on energy, security, efficiency and alternative energies.”
Woolsey said that climate change, should it occur, would only exacerbate security concerns, but that solutions to both situations can be found.
In some models, climate change is predicted to cause sea levels to rise to the point where several countries would be affected — leading to unrest and instability throughout the world.
The United States would have to deal with immigrants from South and Central America fleeing the floods. U.S. coastlines also would flood, leading to a migration from the coasts to the center of the country.
China would seek new territory, and a newly warmed Siberia could prove to be fertile land.
“The steady melting of the Greenland sheet together with the perhaps sudden melting of the West Antarctic sheet would hold the prospect for some 12 meters of seal level rise,” Woolsey said. “The melting of the East Antarctic shelf would add another 25 meters, marking … ‘the end of civilization as we know it.’”
But skeptics about global warming and sea levels rising don’t have to agree that parts of the world will sink into the ocean, Woolsey said. The other side of the coin is that international terrorism and reliance on an unstable part of the planet could be solved with many of the same solutions.
“Energy systems themselves are vulnerable,” he said. “Our problems with oil derive in no small measure from the fact that over two-thirds of the world’s proven reserves of conventional oil lie in the turbulent Persian Gulf region, as does much of oil’s international infrastructure. Increasing U.S. dependence on this part of the world will subject us to a wide range of perils.”
The integrated power grid also is vulnerable to terrorist attack. Simultaneous attacks on a few critical components could result in a widespread and extended blackout. The grid is vulnerable to an electro-magnetic pulse attack, a nuclear detonation above the earth which could destroy electronic and electrical systems as much as 1,000 miles from the blast.
But the separate groups, with their eyes on different problems, could reach a consensus about the solutions, Woolsey believes.
Bringing the sides together is part of his mission as the co-chairman of the Committee on the Present Danger and managing director of the Homeland Security Fund of Paladin Capital Group. Woolsey combines his expertise in national security with his belief that energy solutions also are needed.
To reserve a space at the luncheon, visit www.csworldaffairs.org, or call 579-8443.
Amy.Gillentine@csbj.com