Monday, July 30, 2007

The Council on Foreign Relations

By: Stewart Brennan

Source: Wikipedia (2007)
Council on Foreign Relations

Council on Foreign Relations

Formation 1921
Headquarters New York City, Washington D.C.

The Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) is an influential and independent, nonpartisan foreign policy membership organization founded in 1921 and based at 58 East 68th Street (corner Park Avenue) in New York City, with an additional office in Washington, D.C. Through its membership, meetings, and studies, it has been called the most powerful agent of United States foreign policy outside the State Department. It publishes the respected bi-monthly journal Foreign Affairs. It has an extensive website, featuring links to its "think tank", The David Rockefeller Studies Program, other programs and projects, publications, history, biographies of notable directors and other board members, corporate members, and press releases.[1]


The Council's mission is promoting understanding of foreign policy and America’s role in the world. Meetings are convened at which government officials, global leaders and prominent members debate major foreign-policy issues. It has a "think tank" that employs prominent scholars in international affairs and it commissions subsequent books and reports. A central aim of the Council, it states, is to "find and nurture the next generation of foreign policy leaders". It established "Independent Task Forces" in 1995, which encourage policy debate. Comprising experts with diverse backgrounds and expertise, these task forces seek consensus in making policy recommendations on critical issues; to date, the Council has convened more than fifty times.[1]
The internal "think tank" is the The David Rockefeller Studies Program, which grants fellowships and whose programs are described as being integral to the goal of contributing to the ongoing debate on foreign policy; fellows in this program research and write on the most important challenges facing the United States and the world.[2]
At the outset of the organization, founding member Elihu Root said the group's mission, epitomized in its journal Foreign Affairs, should be to "guide" American public opinion. In the early 1970s, the CFR changed the mission, saying that it wished instead to "inform" public opinion.[3]

Early History

The earliest origin of the Council stemmed from a working fellowship of about 150 distinguished scholars, called "The Inquiry", tasked to brief President Woodrow Wilson about options for the postwar world when Germany was defeated. Through 1917-18, this academic band, including Wilson's closest adviser and longtime friend Col. Edward M. House, as well as Walter Lippmann, gathered discreetly[citation needed] at 155th Street and Broadway in New York City, to assemble the strategy for the postwar world. The team produced more than 2,000 documents detailing the analyzing the political, economic, and social facts globally that would be helpful for Wilson in the peace talks. Their reports formed the basis for the Fourteen Points, which outlined Wilson's strategy for peace after war's end.[4]
These scholars then travelled to the Paris Peace Conference, 1919 that would end the war; it was at one of the meetings of a small group of British and American diplomats and scholars, on May 30, 1919, at the Hotel Majestic, that both the Council and its British counterpart, the Royal Institute of International Affairs (RIIA), formerly known as Chatham House in London, were born.[1] Although the original intent was for the two organizations to be affiliated, they became independent bodies, yet retained close informal ties.[5]
Some of the participants at that meeting were, apart from Edward House, Paul Warburg, Herbert Hoover, Harold Temperley, Lionel Curtis, Lord Eustace Percy, Christian Herter, and American academic historians James Thomson Shotwell of Columbia University, Archibald Coolidge of Harvard and Charles Seymour of Yale.

Morgan and Rockefeller involvement

The Americans who subsequently returned from the conference became drawn to a discreet club of New York financiers and international lawyers who had organized previously in June 1918 and was headed by Elihu Root, JP Morgan's lawyer;[6] this select group called itself the Council on Foreign Relations.[7] They joined this group and the Council was formally established in New York on July 29, 1921, with 108 founding members, including Elihu Root as a leading member and John W. Davis, the chief counsel for J. P. Morgan & Co. and former Solicitor General for President Wilson,[8] as its founding president. Davis was to become Democratic presidential candidate in 1924 .

Other members included John Foster Dulles, Herbert Lehman, Henry Stimson, Averell Harriman, the Rockefeller family's public relations expert, Ivy Lee,[9] and Paul M. Warburg and Otto H. Kahn of the law firm Kuhn, Loeb.[10]

The Council initially had strong connections to the Morgan interests, such as the lawyer, Paul Cravath, whose pre-eminent New York law firm (later named Cravath, Swaine & Moore) represented Morgan businesses; a Morgan partner, Russell Leffingwell, later became its first chairman. The head of the group's finance committee was Alexander Hemphill, chairman of Morgan's Guaranty Trust Company. Harvard economist Edwin F. Gay, editor of the New York Evening Post, owned by Morgan partner Thomas W. Lamont, served as Secretary-Treasurer of the organization. Other members related to Morgan included Frank L. Polk, former Under-Secretary of State and attorney for J.P. Morgan & Co. Former Wilson Under-Secretary of State Norman H. Davis was a banking associate of the Morgans.[11] Over time, however, the locus of power shifted inexorably to the Rockefeller family. Paul Cravath's law firm also represented the Rockefeller family.[12]

Edwin Gay suggested the creation of a quarterly journal, Foreign Affairs. He recommended Harvard colleague Archibald Coolidge be installed as the first editor, along with his New York Evening Post reporter, Hamilton Fish Armstrong, as assistant editor and executive director of the Council.[13]

Even from its inception, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. was a regular benefactor, making annual contributions, as well as a large gift of money towards its first headquarters on East 65th Street, along with corporate donors (Perloff 156). In 1944, the widow of the Standard Oil executive Harold I. Pratt donated the family's four-story mansion on the corner of 68th Street and Park Avenue for council use and this became the CFR's new headquarters, known as The Harold Pratt House, where it remains today.

Several of Rockefeller's sons joined the council when they came of age; David Rockefeller joined the council as its youngest-ever director in 1949 and subsequently became chairman of the board from 1970 to 1985; today he serves as honorary chairman.[14] The major philanthropic organization he founded with his brothers in 1940, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, has also funded the Council, from 1953 to at least 1980.[15]

Another major support base from the outset was the corporate sector; around 26 corporations provided financial assistance in the 1920s, seizing the opportunity to inject their business concerns into the weighty deliberations of the academics and scholars in the Council's ruling elite. In addition, the Carnegie Corporation contributed funds in 1937 to expand the Council's reach by replicating its structure in a diminished form in eight American cities.[16]

John J. McCloy became an influential figure in the organization after the Second World War, and he held connections to both the Morgans and Rockefellers. As assistant to Secretary of War (and JP Morgan attorney) Henry Stimson during World War II, he had presided over important American war policies; his brother-in-law John Zinsser was on the board of directors of JP Morgan & Co. during that time, and after the war McCloy joined New York law firm Milbank, Tweed, Hope, Hadley & McCloy as a partner. The company had long served as legal counsel to the Rockefeller family and the Chase Manhattan bank. McCloy became Chairman of the Board of Chase Manhattan, a director of the Rockefeller Foundation and Chairman of the Board of the CFR from 1953 to 1970. President Harry Truman appointed him President of the World Bank and U.S. High Commissioner to Germany. He served as a special adviser on disarmament to President John F. Kennedy and chaired a special committee on the Cuban crisis. He was said to have had the largest influence on American foreign policy of anyone after World War II. McCloy's brother-in-law, Lewis W. Douglas, also served on the board of the CFR and as a trustee for the Rockefeller Foundation; Truman appointed him as American ambassador to Great Britain.[17]

Influence on Foreign Policy

Beginning in 1939 and lasting for five years, the Council achieved much greater prominence with government and the State Department when it established the strictly confidential War and Peace, funded entirely by the Rockefeller Foundation.[18] The secrecy surrounding this group was such that the Council members (total at the time: 663) who were not involved in its deliberations were completely unaware of the study group's existence.[18]

It was divided into four functional topic groups: economic and financial, security and armaments, territorial, and political. The security and armaments group was headed by Allen Dulles who later became a pivotal figure in the CIA's predecessor, the OSS. It ultimately produced 682 memoranda for the State Department, marked classified and circulated among the appropriate government departments. As an historical judgment, its overall influence on actual government planning at the time is still said to remain unclear.[18]

In an anonymous piece called "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" that appeared in Foreign Affairs in 1947, CFR study group member George Kennan coined the term "containment". The essay would prove to be highly influential in US foreign policy for seven upcoming presidential administrations. 40 years later, Kennan explained that he had never meant to contain the Soviet Union because it might be able to physically attack the United States; he thought that was obvious enough that he didn't need to explain it in his essay. William Bundy credited the CFR's study groups with helping to lay the framework of thinking that led to the Marshall Plan and NATO. Due to new interest in the group, membership grew towards 1,000.[19]

Dwight D. Eisenhower chaired a CFR study group while he served as President of Columbia University in New York City. One member later said, "Whatever General Eisenhower knows about economics, he has learned at the study group meetings."[19] The CFR study group devised an expanded study group called "Americans for Eisenhower" to increase his chances for the presidency. Eisenhower would later draw many Cabinet members from CFR ranks and become a CFR member himself. His primary CFR appointment was Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. As an attorney for Standard Oil and a longtime board member of the Rockefeller Foundation, Dulles maintained strong ties to the Council and to the Rockefellers.[20] Dulles gave a public address at the Henry Pratt House in which he announced a new direction for Eisenhower's foreign policy: "There is no local defense which alone will contain the mighty land power of the communist world. Local defenses must be reinforced by the further deterrent of massive retaliatory power." After this speech, the council convened a session on "Nuclear Weapons and Foreign Policy" and chose a Harvard scholar, Henry Kissinger, to head it. Kissinger spent the following academic year working on the project at Council headquarters. The book of the same name that he published from his research in 1957 gave him national recognition, topping the national bestseller lists.[19]

On 24 November 1953, a study group heard a report from political scientist William Henderson regarding the ongoing conflict between France and Vietnamese Communist leader Ho Chi Minh's Viet Minh forces, a struggle that would later become known as the First Indochina War. Henderson argued that Ho's cause was primarily nationalist in nature and that Marxism had "little to do with the current revolution". Further, the report said, the United States could work with Ho to guide his movement away from Communism. State Department officials, however, expressed skepticism about direct American intervention in Vietnam and the idea was tabled. Over the next twenty years, the United States would find itself allied with anti-Communist South Vietnam and against Ho and his supporters in Vietnam War.[19]

The Council served as a "breeding ground" for important American policies such as mutual deterrence, arms control, and nuclear non-proliferation.[19]

A four-year long study of relations between America and China was conducted by the Council between 1964 and 1968. One study published in 1966 concluded that American citizens were more open to talks with China than their elected leaders. Kissinger had continued to publish in Foreign Affairs and was appointed by President Nixon to serve as National Security Adviser in 1969. In 1971, he embarked on a secret trip to Beijing to broach talks with Chinese leaders. Nixon went to China in 1972, and diplomatic relations were completely normalized by President Carter's Secretary of State, another Council member, Cyrus Vance.[19]

In November 1979, while chairman of the CFR, David Rockefeller became embroiled in an international incident when he and Henry Kissinger, along with John J. McCloy and Rockefeller aides, persuaded President Jimmy Carter through the State Department to admit the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, into the US for hospital treatment for lymphoma. This action directly precipitated what is known as the Iran hostage crisis and placed Rockefeller under intense media scrutiny (particularly from The New York Times) for the first time in his public life.[21]

About the organization

From its inception the Council was non-partisan, welcoming members of both Democratic and Republican parties. It also welcomed Jews and African-Americans, with only women initially barred from membership. Its proceedings were almost universally private and confidential.[22] It has exerted influence on US foreign policy from the beginning, due to its roster of State Department and other government officials as members; as such, it has been the focus of many conspiracy theories (Perloff 37, et passim). A study by two critics of the organization, Laurence Shoup and William Minter, found that of 502 government officials surveyed from 1945 to 1972, more than half were members of the Council.[23][24]

It has today about 3,700 life members (plus five-year term members), which over its history have included senior serving politicians, more than a dozen Secretaries of State, former national security officers, bankers, lawyers, professors, former CIA members and senior media figures. Nearly every former US president since WWII has been a member as well as the majority of State Department influentials. As a private institution however, the CFR maintains through its official website that it is not a formal organization engaged in U.S. foreign policy-making.[citation needed]

In 1962, the group began a program of bringing select Air Force officers to the Harold Pratt House to study alongside its scholars. The Army, Navy and Marine Corps requested they start similar programs for their own officers.[23]

Vietnam created a rift within the organization. When Hamilton Fish Armstrong announced in 1970 that he would be leaving the helm of Foreign Affairs after 45 years, new chairman David Rockefeller approached a family friend, William Bundy, to take over the position. Anti-war advocates within the Council rose in protest against this appointment, claiming that Bundy's hawkish record in the State and Defense Deparments and the CIA precluded him from taking over an independent journal. Some even called Bundy a "war criminal" for his prior actions.[23]

Seven American presidents have addressed the Council, two while still in office-- Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.[25]

Journalist Charles Kraft, a member of both the CFR and its funded Trilateral Commission, said the Council "comes close to being an organ of what C. Wright Mills has called the Power Elite – a group of men, similar in interest and outlook, shaping events from invulnerable positions behind the scenes."[20]

Economist John Kenneth Galbraith resigned in 1970, objecting to the Council's policy of allowing government officials to conduct twice-a-year off-the-record briefings with business officials in its Corporation Service. [26] The Council says that it has never sought to serve as a receptacle for government policy papers that cannot be shared with the public, and they do not encourage government officials who are members to do so. The Council says that discussions at its headquarters remain confidential, not because they are secret, but because the system allows members to test new ideas with other members.[27]

Arthur Schlesinger, in his book on the Kennedy presidency, A Thousand Days, wrote that Kennedy was not part of what he called the "New York establishment":
"In particular, he was little acquainted with the New York financial and legal community-- that arsenal of talent which had so long furnished a steady supply of always orthodox and often able people to Democratic as well as Republican administrations. This community was the heart of the American Establishment. Its household deities were Henry J. Stimson and Elihu Root; its present leaders, Robert Lovett and John J. McCloy; its front organizatons, the Rockefeller, Ford and Carnegie foundations and the Council on Foreign Relations; its organs, the New York Times and Foreign Affairs."[28]

Notable projects

Among its regional projects is its Middle East Program, including the Middle East Forum, described as a "Roundtable," which sponsors meetings and discussions about the Middle East and is directed by Judith Kipper, Adviser for Middle East Programs and Director of the Energy Security Group.[29]

Chairman of the Board David Rockefeller began the Trilateral Commission in 1973 with finances from the Council and the Rockefeller Foundation.[30]
Board of Directors


Chairman of the Board: Peter G. Peterson
Vice Chairman: Carla A. Hills
Vice Chairman: Robert E. Rubin
President: Richard N. Haass

Board of Directors:
Director Peter Ackerman
Director Fouad Ajami
Director Madeleine K. Albright
Director Charlene Barshefsky
Director Henry S. Bienen
Director Stephen W. Bosworth
Director Tom Brokaw
Director Frank J. Caufield
Director Kenneth M. Duberstein
Director Martin S. Feldstein
Director Richard N. Foster
Director Ann M. Fudge
Director Helene D. Gayle
Director Maurice R. Greenberg
Director Richard C. Holbrooke
Director Karen Elliott House
Director Alberto Ibargüen
Director Henry R. Kravis
Director Michael H. Moskow
Director Joseph S. Nye, Jr.
Director Ronald L. Olson
Director James W. Owen
Director Thomas R. Pickering
Director Colin L. Powell
Director David M. Rubenstein
Director Richard E. Salomon
Director Anne-Marie Slaughter
Director Joan E. Spero
Director Laura D'Andrea Tyson
Director Vin Weber
Director Christine Todd Whitman
Director Fareed Zakaria

The Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations is composed in total of thirty-six officers. David Rockefeller is a Director Emeritus (Honorary Chairman). It also has an International Advisory Board consisting of thirty-five distinguished individuals from across the world.[1][31]

There are two types of membership: life, and term membership, which lasts for 5 years and is available to those between 30 and 36. Only US citizens (native born or naturalised) and permanent residents who have applied for U.S. citizenship are eligible. A candidate for life membership must be nominated in writing by one Council member and seconded by a minimum of three others (strongly encouraged to be other CFR members).[32]

Corporate membership (250 in total) is divided into "Basic", "Premium" ($25,000+) and "President's Circle" ($50,000+). All corporate executive members have opportunities to hear distinguished speakers, such as overseas presidents and prime ministers, chairmen and CEOs of multinational corporations, and US officials and Congressmen. President and premium members are also entitled to other benefits, including attendance at small, private dinners or receptions with senior American officials and world leaders.[33]

Corporate Members


American Express Company
American International Group, Inc.
BP p.l.c.
Bridgewater Associates, Inc. CA
Chevron Corporation
Cognizant Technology
Solutions Corporation
ConocoPhillips Company
Drake Management LLC
DynCorp International
Exxon Mobil Corporation
Fortress Investment Group LLC
Guardsmark LLC
H. J. Heinz Company
Investcorp International, Inc.
Kingdon Capital
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.
Lehman Brothers
Th e McGraw-Hill Companies
McKinsey & Company, Inc.
Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc.
Moody’s Investors Service
Nike, Inc.
OppenheimerFunds, Inc.
Reliance Industries Limited
The Rohatyn Group
Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce
Veritas Capital LLC


Abbott Laboratories
ABC News
ACE Limited
AEA Investors Inc.
Airbus North America
Alleghany Corporation
Allen & Overy LLP
American Standard Companies
Apax Partners, Inc.
Apollo Management, LP
ARAMARK Corporation
Aramco Services Company
Archer Daniels Midland Company
Armor Holdings, Inc.
Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder Holdings, Inc.
Arrow Electronics, Inc.
A.T. Kearney, Inc.
Avaya Inc.
Baker, Nye Advisers, Inc.
Banco Mercantil
Bank of America
Th e Bank of New York
Barclays Capital
BASF Corporation
Th e Blackstone Group L.P.
BNP Paribas
Th e Boeing Company
Booz Allen Hamilton Inc.
Boston Properties, Inc.
Bristol-Myers Squibb Company
CALYON Corporate and Investment Bank
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce
Cantillon Capital Management LLC
Caxton Associates
The Chubb Corporation
Cisneros Group of Companies
CIT Group Inc.
The CNA Corporation
Th e Coca-Cola Company
Continental Properties
Corning Incorporated
Corsair Capital
Corus America Inc.
Credit Suisse
DaimlerChrysler Corporation
De Beers
Deere & Company
Deutsche Bank AG
Devon Energy Corporation
Dresdner Bank AG
DTAP Capital Partners LLC
Electronic Data Systems Corporation
Eli Lilly and Company
Eni S.p.A.
Equinox Management Partners, L.P.
Estée Lauder Companies Inc.
Fannie Mae
Federal Express Corporation
Ford Motor Company
Freddie Mac
Future Pipe Industries, Inc.
Galt Industries Inc.
General Atlantic LLC
General Electric Company
General Maritime Corporation
The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.
Grey Global Group Inc.
Hess Corporation
Hitachi, Ltd.
Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin
IBM Corporation
InsCap Management, LLC
Interpipe Inc.
IXIS Capital Markets
Jacobs Asset Management, LLC
J. H. Whitney Investment
Management, LLC
Jones Day
JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Kometal GMBH Austria
Kuwait Petroleum Corporation
Lockheed Martin Corporation
Loral Space & Communications Ltd.
Lucent Technologies Inc.
Lukoil Americas
Mannheim LLC
Marathon Oil Company
Marsh & McLennan
Companies, Inc.
Marubeni America Corporation
Masthead Management Partners
Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP
MBIA Insurance Corporation
MeadWestvaco Corporation
Merck & Co., Inc.
Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP
Mitsubishi International Corporation
Moore Capital Management LLC
Morgan Stanley
The Nasdaq Stock Market, Inc.
The News Corporation
New York Life International, Inc.
Northrop Grumman Corporation
NYSE Group, Inc.
Occidental Petroleum Corporation
The Olayan Group
Paul, Hastings, Janofksy & Walker
Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP
PepsiCo, Inc.
Pfizer Inc.
Phelps Dodge Corporation
Phillips-Van Heusen Corporation
Pitney Bowes Inc.
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Prudential Financial, Inc.
Rho Capital Partners
Rothschild North America, Inc.
Sageview Capital
Sandalwood Securities, Inc.
Shell Oil Company
Sidley Austin LLP
Siemens Corporation
Sony Corporation of America
Soros Fund Management
Standard & Poor’s
Standard Chartered Bank
Starwood Capital Group
Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
Swiss Re America Holding Corporation
Symbol Technologies, Inc.
Time Warner Inc.
Tishman Speyer Properties, Inc.
Union Pacifi c Corporation
United Technologies Corporation
U.S. Trust Corporation
Verizon Communications Inc.
Veronis Suhler Stevenson
Vinson & Elkins LLP
Visa International
Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Vornado Realty Trust
Wyoming Investment Corporation
Xerox Corporation
Young & Rubicam Inc.
Ziff Brothers Investments LLC

BASIC Members

Access Industries, Inc.
American Re Corporation
American Red Cross
Andrews Kurth LLP
Apple Core Hotels Inc.
Areva US
Arnold & Porter LLP
Artemis Advisors
Baker & Hostetler LLP
Baker Capital Corp.
Th e Baldwin-Gottschalk Group
Banca di Roma
Banca d’Italia
Banca Intesa S.p.A.
Barbour Griffith and Rogers
Barst & Mukamal LLP
Bloomberg L.P.
Bramwell Capital Management, Inc.
Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
C & O Resources, Inc.
Claremont Capital Corporation
Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP
Th e Consulate General of Japan
Control Risks Group
Covington & Burling
Craig Drill Capital Corporation
The Cross Country Group
Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
Ehrenkranz & Ehrenkranz LLP
Eisner LLP
First Atlantic Capital, Ltd.
French-American Chamber of Commerce
Gale International
GLG Inc.
Granite Associates LP
Hemispheric Partners
IC & A Inc.
Idemitsu Apollo Corporation
Integrated Finance Limited
Intellispace, Inc.
Interaudi Bank
Intracom S.A.
Invus Group, LLC
Japan Bank for International Cooperation
JETRO New York
Joukowsky Family Foundation
KS Management Corporation
Mark Partners
Marvin & Palmer Associates, Inc.
Medley Global Advisors
Mine Safety Appliances Company
Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Mutual of America
Oxford Analytica Inc.
PanAmSat Corporation
Peter Kimmelman Asset
Management LLC
Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw
Pittman LLP
POSCO America Corporation
Riverstone Holdings LLC
Rolls-Royce North America, Inc.
RWS Energy Services, Inc.
Saber Partners, LLC
Simpson Th acher & Bartlett LLP
Sperry Fund Management LLC
Thales North America, Inc.
Tiedemann Investment Group
Torys LLP
Transclick, Inc.
Tudor Investment Corporation
Turkish Industrialists’ and Businessmen’s Association
Warburg Pincus LLC
Watson Wyatt & Company
Weber Shandwick Worldwide
Wilpon Investors LLC
Zephyr Management, L.P.

Notable current Council members

· Dick Cheney
· Jonothan S. Bush - George W. Bush's First Cousin. [2]
· Fred Thompson
· Condoleezza Rice
· Paul Wolfowitz
· Robert M. Gates
· John D. Negroponte
· Leslie Gelb
· Colin Powell
· Alice Rivlin
· Madeleine Albright
· Zbigniew Brzezinski
· Henry Kissinger
· Jack Welch
· Alan Greenspan
· Paul Volcker
· Vernon Jordan
· John C. Whitehead
· George Soros
· Brent Scowcroft
· George Shultz
· James Woolsey
· Jimmy Carter
· Warren Christopher
· James D. Wolfensohn
· Steven Weinberg
· Edgar Bronfman
· Barbara Walters
· Lawrence Eagleburger
· Thomas Friedman
· Paul R. Krugman
· Peggy Dulany
· David Rockefeller, Jr.
· John D. Rockefeller, IV
· Ethan Bronner
· Warren Hoge
· Bill Brock (U.S. navy)
· Tom Brokaw (media, anchor)
· Bill Clinton (former U.S. President)
· Roger W. Ferguson, Jr.
· Chris Heinz (politics, banking)
· John Kerry (politics)
· Stan O'Neal (banking)
· Henry Paulson
· Charles Prince (banking)
· Karenna Gore Schiff
· Ron Silver (actor)
· Jonathan Soros
· Lesley Stahl (media)
· Adam Wolfensohn
· Robert Zoellick
· Charlie Rose (journalist, media)
· Angelina Jolie (UN Goodwill Ambassador)[35]
· Irving Kristol
· Mikhail Fridman (International Advisory Board member)
· Shirley Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby (International Advisory Board member)

Notable historical members

· Charles Peter McColough
· George Kennan
· John J. McCloy
· Paul Nitze
· Strobe Talbott
· Caspar Weinberger
· Robert Lovett
· John Foster Dulles
· Allen Dulles
· Dean Rusk
· Nelson Rockefeller
· John D. Rockefeller 3rd
· Robert McNamara
· Felix Rohatyn
· Paul Warburg
· C. Douglas Dillon
· Eugene Rostow
· Walt Rostow
· Albert Wohlstetter
· Roberta Wohlstetter
· Arthur Schlesinger
· McGeorge Bundy
· William Bundy
· Gerald Ford
· Conrad Black (International Advisory Board member)
· Sergei Karaganov (International Advisory Board member)

List of Chairmen

· Russell Cornell Leffingwell 1946-53
· John J. McCloy 1953-70
· David Rockefeller 1970-85
· Peter George Peterson 1985-

List of Presidents

· John W. Davis 1921-33
· George W. Wickersham 1933-36
· Norman H. Davis 1936-44
· Russell Cornell Leffingwell 1944-46
· Allen Welsh Dulles 1946-50
· Henry Merritt Wriston 1951-64
· Grayson L. Kirk 1964-71
· Bayless Manning 1971-77
· Winston Lord 1977-85
· John Temple Swing 1985-86 (Pro tempore)
· Peter Tarnoff 1986-93
· Alton Frye 1993
· Leslie Gelb 1993-2003
· Richard N. Haass 2003-

Source: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996: Historical Roster of Directors and Officers[36]


The Council has been the subject of many conspiracy theories, partly due to the number of high-ranking government officials in its membership, its secrecy clauses, and the large number of aspects of American foreign policy that its members have been involved with, beginning with Wilson's Fourteen Points. Many organizations, such as the John Birch Society, believe that the CFR plans a one-world government. Wilson's Fourteen Points speech was the first in which he suggested a worldwide security organization to prevent future world wars.[37]

Some believe that the CFR is working towards a North American Union, a joining of the three governments of Canada, Mexico and the US. They point to a CFR task force which was headed by professor Robert Pastor, head of North American Studies at American University, which produced a report called "Building a North American Community" on cooperation within North America.[38] Pastor authored a 2001 book, Towards a North American Community: Lessons from the Old World for the New. Plans allegedly center on a 10-lane superhighway which would run from Mexico to Canada.[39]

Assistant Secretary of Commerce David Bohigian says that there is no truth to the rumors. Senator Kit Bond, who is a member of committees that would have to authorize funding for a NAFTA superhighway, has said that there are no plans for a North American Union and the theories are not valid.[40] However, Rep. Ron Paul has said that Congress has provided "small amounts" of money to study the feasibility of such a highway. Paul also suggested that because the funding constituted "just one item in an enormous transportation appropriations bill... most members of Congress were not aware of it."[3] Rep. Virgil Goode introduced a resolution, with 21 co-sponsors, to prohibit the building of a NAFTA superhighway and an eventual North American Union with Canada and Mexico. The resolution was sent to committee.[4]

In 2005, CFR task force co-chairman Pastor testified in Congress in front of the Foreign Relations Committee: "The best way to secure the United States today is not at our two borders with Mexico and Canada, but at the borders of North America as a whole."[41] The CFR task force he headed called for one border around North America, freer travel within it, and cooperation among Canadian, Mexican and American military forces and law enforcement for greater security. It called for full mobility of labor among the three countries within five years, similar to the European Union.[5] He also appeared at a CFR forum called "The Future of North American Integration in the Wake of the Terrorist Attacks" on October 17, 2001, discussing the prospect of North American integration in the wake of the September 11 attacks.[42] Conservative commentator Phyllis Schlafly wrote of the 2005 report, "This CFR document, called 'Building a North American Community,' asserts that George W. Bush, Mexican President Vicente Fox, and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin 'committed their governments' to this goal when they met at Bush's ranch and at Waco, Texas on March 23, 2005. The three adopted the Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America and assigned 'working groups' to fill in the details."[43] The document advocated allowing companies to recruit workers from anywhere within North America and called for large loans and aid to Mexico from the US. It called for a court system for North American dispute resolution and said that illegal aliens should be allowed into the United States Social Security system through the Social Security Totalization Agreement. The report called for a fund to be created by the US to allow 60,000 Mexican students to attend US colleges. The report says the plan can be carried out within five years. Other members of the task force included former Massachusetts governor William Weld and immigration chief for President Clinton, Doris Meissner.

Pastor wrote in a piece for Foreign Affairs: "The U.S., Mexican, and Canadian governments remain zealous defenders of an outdated conception of sovereignty even though their citizens are ready for a new approach. Each nation's leadership has stressed differences rather than common interests. North America needs leaders who can articulate and pursue a broader vision... Countries are benefited when they changed these [national sovereignty] policies, and evidence suggests that North Americans are ready for a new relationship that renders this old definition of sovereignty obsolete."[44] Pastor appeared at a CFR-sponsored symposium at Arizona State University on issues that would face the next president.[45]

See also

· Trilateral Commission
· Bilderberg Group
· Brookings Institution
· David Rockefeller
· David Rockefeller, Jr.
· Rockefeller family
· Rand Corporation


1. ^ a b c "President's Welcome ("About CFR"), with a hyperlink to "History", both accessed February 24, 2007. (Date accessed applies to other citations to the CFR website.)
2. ^ Council on Foreign Affairs "Research Projects".
3. ^ Council on Foreign Affairs "The Second Transformation".
4. ^ "President Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (1918)"
5. ^ James Perloff, The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline (Appleton, WI: Western Islands Publishers, 1988) 36.
6. ^ Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
7. ^ "Continuing the Inquiry: Inquiry".
8. ^ Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
9. ^ John Ensor Harr and Peter J. Johnson, The Rockefeller Century: Three Generations of America's Greatest Family (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988) 156.
10. ^ Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
11. ^ Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
12. ^ For discussion of this shift in influence from Morgan to Rockefeller, see Perloff 38.
13. ^ Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
14. ^ "David Rockefeller: Honorary Chairman, Council on Foreign Relations".
15. ^ Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) List of RBF Grantees
16. ^ "Continuing the Inquiry: Dissension".
17. ^ Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
18. ^ a b c "Continuing the Inquiry: War and Peace"
19. ^ a b c d e f "Continuing the Inquiry: “X” Leads the Way"
20. ^ a b Wall Street, Banks, and American Foreign Policy
21. ^ Scrutiny by NYT over the Shah of Iran - David Rockefeller, Memoirs (pp.356-75)
22. ^ "Continuing the Inquiry: Basic Assumptions".
23. ^ a b c
24. ^ "Continuing the Inquiry: Consensus Endangered".
25. ^ "American Presidents at the Council on Foreign Relations".
26. ^ Marrs, Jim. "Rule By Secrecy." 36.
27. ^ "The Second Transformation".
28. ^ "A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House"
29. ^ The Middle East Forum, described as a "Roundtable", part of the Middle East Program, is distinct from the Middle East Forum founded and directed by Daniel Pipes. For their critique of the Council on Foreign Relations Middle East Program and Middle East Forum, and its director Judith Kipper, see Daniel Mandel and Asaf Romirowsky, "The Council on Foreign Relations Does the Middle East", Middle East Quarterly 12.4 (Fall 2005), particularly the section "Panegyrics over Policy"; accessed February 23, 2007. (Middle East Quarterly is a publication of Pipes's Middle East Forum.)
30. ^
31. ^ "Leadership and Staff". Accessed February 24, 2007.
32. ^ "Membership".
33. ^ "Corporate Program"PDF (330 KiB).
34. ^ Corporate Membership.
35. ^ Washington Post, Columnists, "Talk About Your Serious Roles", By Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts, Wednesday, February 28, 2007; Page C03. Nominated by council member Trevor Neilson. If she's voted in at the June board meeting, the 31-year-old Jolie will receive a five-year "term" membership.
36. ^ Continuing the Inquiry: Historical Roster of Directors and Officers.
37. ^ President Woodrow Wilson's 14 Points (1918).
38. ^ {{cite web What people are reffering to when they say the North American Union, is The Security and Prosperity Partnership of North America. |url= |title=Creating a North American Community}}
39. ^ North American Union? Rumor sweeps the right.
40. ^ Urban legend of "North American Union" feeds on fears.
41. ^ A North American Community Approach to Security.
42. ^ The Future of North American Integration in the Wake of the Terrorist Attacks.
43. ^ CFR's Plan to Integrate the U.S., Mexico and Canada.
44. ^ North America's Second Decade.
45. ^ ASU and the Council on Foreign Relations Present Symposium on Foreign Policy Issues That Face Next President.


Publications by the Council on Foreign Relations
· Council on Foreign Relations in association with the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Asuntos Internacionales. Building a North American Community: Report of an Independent Task Force. Washington, DC: Council on Foreign Relations, 2005. (Task Force Observers: Sam Boutziouvis, Canadian Council of Chief Executives; Daniel Gerstein, Council on Foreign Relations; Lawrence Spinetta, Council on Foreign Relations; David Stewart-Patterson, Canadian Council of Chief Executives; multiple authors.)


· De Villemarest, Pierre, Danièle De Villemarest, and William Wolf. Facts and Chronicles Denied to the Public. Vol. 1. Slough, Berkshire, UK: Aquilion, 2004. ISBN 1-904-99700-7.
· Grose, Peter. Continuing the Inquiry: The Council on Foreign Relations from 1921 to 1996. New York: Council on Foreign Relations: 1996. ISBN 0-876-09192-3.
· Perloff, James. The Shadows of Power: The Council on Foreign Relations and the American Decline. Appleton, WI: Western Islands, 1988. ISBN 0-882-79134-6.
· Schulzinger, Robert D. The Wise Men of Foreign Affairs. New York: Columbia University Press, 1984. ISBN 0-231-05528-5.
· Shoup, Laurence H., and William Minter. Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy. 1977; New York: Authors Choice Press, 2004. ISBN 0-595-32426-6 (10). ISBN 978-05953-2426-2 (13).
· Wala, Michael. The Council on Foreign Relations and American Foreign Policy in the Early Cold War. Providence, RI: Berghann Books, 1994. ISBN 1-571-81003-X
Miscellaneous articles
· Kassenaar, Lisa. "Wall Street's New Prize: Park Avenue Club House With World View". Bloomberg December 15, 2005. [Profile of the Council and its new members.]
· Mandel, Daniel, and Asaf Romirowsky. "The Council on Foreign Relations Does the Middle East". Middle East Quarterly 12.4 (Fall 2005). Accessed February 23, 2007.
· Sanger, David E. "Iran's Leader Relishes 2nd Chance to Make Waves". The New York Times September 21, 2006, Foreign Desk: A1, col. 2 (Late ed.-Final). Accessed February 23, 2007. (TimesSelect subscription access). ("Over the objections of the administration and Jewish groups that boycotted the event, Mr. Ahmadinejad, the man who has become the defiant face of Iran, squared off with the nation’s foreign policy establishment, parrying questions for an hour and three-quarters with two dozen members of the Council on Foreign Relations, then ending the evening by asking whether they were simply shills for the Bush administration.")

External links

· Council on Foreign Relations – Organization website
o "For Educators" – "Academic Outreach Initiative": Resources for educators and students; links to selected CFR publications
o "For the Media" – Resources for the media, concerning requests for press materials, transcripts of meetings, and annual reports; contact information
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Categories: NPOV disputes | Articles with unsourced statements since June 2007 | All articles with unsourced statements | Foreign policy and strategy think tanks | Political and economic think tanks | Council on Foreign Relations | International relations | Rockefeller Foundation | 1921 establishments

Building a Brighter Future

Building a Brighter Future

By Stewart Brennan

"All the darkness in the world cannot put out the light of a single candle."

The Current Situation

Together, we can build a brighter future, but in order to give meaningful suggestions for this, we must first speak candidly about what's happening in the world today. It appears that there are factions within the world's power elite that desire to exert as much control as possible over the world and their primary means for establishing control is through fear. As this sociopathic faction gains greater power and control, our freedoms and liberties are increasingly taken away, sometimes without our even realizing it.

Fear is a powerful tool of control and increasingly used by these factions of the global elite in statements such as; "The terrorists want to kill us all.", "Your job, savings, and retirement are no longer secure.", "You are either with us or against us.", "We might be attacked at any time."...All of these messages of fear manipulate people to focus blame on an enemy which more often than not means the demonization of the leader from another country and subsequently many of its people.. This division rhetoric also has the effect of pushing us away from taking control of our own destiny. The more we slip into a fearful state of mind, the easier it is for people to be manipulated into accepting orwellian police state legislation.

Government legislation can destroy the peoples freedom by outlawing or preventing the exposure of hidden crimes. In fact just to question government officials on global political events gives you a one way ticket to their enemy list.

National Security?

We are told that, "In the name of national security," we are not allowed to know what is happening behind the closed doors of government. Yet we are encouraged to keep vigilant watch over our neighbors, or watch over those who question the government's position on any topic, but especially watch for those who act suspicious since they could be terrorists.

Rampant suspicion and secrecy are causing people to lose touch with the common humanity we share with everyone around us!

Polarization leads to the "US vs THEM" way of thinking. Divide and conquer is a tactic that has been used successfully by the power elite of the world for centuries. As long as people focus on blaming "the enemy," they are not likely to look for the deeper causes to the problems. Controlling factions of the power elite work tirelessly to keep public attention focused on issues which divide us into polarized camps made possible by the corporate media. There is no investigative journalism on mainstream media anymore...and therefore, as a result, serious issues that should concern the people, are just not reported on. The power brokers control the narrative. Anything that is outside their narrative is smothered immediately.

A subtle, yet powerful method of gaining control over the public of any nation is to distract its people from their purpose in life. Consider that television, radio, and movies are filled with increasingly more greed, violence, sex and alcohol, or that our educational systems prioritize passing tests instead of developing intelligence and creativity in the students. Excessive corporate control of the media limits what news we receive, and often shapes our decisions and the way we think. Our attention is being diverted from the deeper meanings of life to the more superficial attractions of sex, consumerism, and money lust.

As people succumb to their fears through the polarization of thought delivered by news mediums, they lose touch with their real sense of purpose in life.

What can we do about all this?

Ultimately, it is the collective fear, misinformation, and loss of purpose within us that has allowed sociopathic governments to take the power away from us, by allowing them to trash our freedoms and liberties. If every one of us made a commitment to work on making the World a better place through a conscientious humane approach and then reflect it through our actions in the real world, it would inspire others to do the same. We can change our collective direction and build a solid foundation for a brighter future if we work together.

Taking Action

Develop within yourself, a purpose and intention in your life. In order to live fulfilling lives in today's complex world, it's very important to give yourself a clear direction by exploring what is deepest and most meaningful to you. Take the reigns and develop your life's purpose through intentions based on meaningful well thought out goals. Choose to live your life well and follow your purpose to the best of your ability every day. Life will become deeper and more meaningful. Taking action in your own life builds strength within and allows you to move forward confidently to build a brighter future.

Transform fear into love. 

When fear grabs hold, we first need to analyse it and trace it to its roots so that we are able to identify the core issue and deal more consciously with it. When in doubt, consult with others for additional guidance or sources to help move from a fear to understanding. We can also transform our fears into love through spiritual practice which connects deep within us. In doing so, we begin to recognize fear as a chance to overcome a hurdle and grow

Be aware...take personal responsibility for building a brighter future. Investigate instead of accepting what others say as fact, because when we blame others without knowing all the facts, we step into a void of ignorance and become a tool in a game of deception.

Whenever we catch ourselves playing the role of victim by blaming others for everything that's wrong in our lives, we are choosing shallow thinking rather than taking responsibility to think things out...choose to look deep within and take responsibility for your actions. If we focus on improving ourselves, imagine what would happen if we all did? Every single one of us can make a difference, both in our own lives and in our world.

Be Open and Transparent 

Move beyond polarization and the establishments focus on "US vs THEM" Consider the possibility that all of us are doing what we believe to be right based upon our beliefs, circumstances, and upbringing. Each of us has a place in our heart that wants only to love and be loved. As we focus less on blaming and judging "them" and more on supporting the highest qualities in all people, we increasingly come to see that we are all one human family, and that we can choose to transform our world by working together for the good of all. Come together for community, and support each other in making these positive changes. This is where we transform fear into love.

If we are honest, truthful, and respectful of others, we can change the World.

Let's explore ways to move beyond division, share your life purpose with good intentions and encourage others by listening. Inspire each other and take responsibility to be the best that we can be. When we gather in community and support each other with positive intentions, the positive energy spreads...

These simple actions can change the collective consciousness of the world if enough of us begin to change ourselves from within. Let us do all we can to stop the destructive behaviors of the global power elite.

Let us not overly focus on changing the outside world without first having a solid internal foundation. The most powerful changes start inside each and everyone of us.

As we change ourselves from the inside out, we send ripples of inspiration and healing out into the world. By joining together in groups and communities to support each other in this, those ripples become waves which powerfully help to build a brighter future for all of us.

If we change ourselves, then no governing figure opposed to equal human rights and freedoms would stand for long...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

No More Arms Sales!

By: Stewart Brennan

The Bush administration must be stopped from sending more weapons to the Middle East! I am appalled at the Bush administration's policy of destabilizing the World. What is the purpose for this? Peace? The US Military Industrial Complex is going to be sending a tens of billions of dollars in weapons to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait Qatar, and Oman. Bush announced plans for 43 Billion dollars worth of weapons will go to Israel and Egypt alone.

The American people must put an end to this Military Industrial Complex that drives the American Imperial economy. Stand up and say “NO”! Make sure that your elected representatives do not agree or vote for this evil package of 43 billion dollars in military weapons.

Ask yourself

1. Who do you think is funding this new Cold War debt?

You are Mr. & Mrs. America, because every dollar that your country spends is borrowed from the Federal Reserve Bank…you the citizens have to pay it back! Ask yourself who owns the federal reserve…certainly not your government and not the American people. …The “Council on Foreign Relations” is what is behind the weapons push and the destabilizing of the entire Middle East so that War will continue for decades while this elite membership reaps the profits of Trillions of dollars in war machine business. So not only is the Bush administration placing orders for these perversely rich people, they are making you, “Mr. And Mrs. American citizen” fund these rich people, their companies, and their banks and charging compound interest!!!

Council on Foreign Relations

2. Who is going to shoulder the blame when more innocent people are killed and who will the blow back be directed at?

Mr. & Mrs. America!

3. Guess who pays for these weapons in the end?

Mr. & Mrs. America, compliments of your government and their rich puppeteers called the Federal Reserve.

4. What is a military aid package?

Do you think its food and medicine? Have you ever wondered where people get weapons? They didn’t just come out of the sky or happen to materialize by divine miracles. They come in the form of government aid packages from the Bush Government and its rich banking apostles. Why not spend 43 Billion dollars on health care for all Americans?

5. Where do you think Saddam Hussein or any other dictator like him get his weapons from?

The U.S. Military Industrial Complex.

6. How is George Bush connected to all this?

Did you know that George Bush's grandfather "Prescott Bush" was associated with the third Reich’s money while running the Union Banking Corp. in New York City during World War 2? The puppeteers were the Rockefeller’s and the main customer was German munitions manufacturer I.G. Farben.

Are you ready to stop them?

At this very moment, your American government has been successful in destabilizing the Middle East so that American oligarch's can supply an endless amount of arms and war toys to all sides in any conflict that they start. Who wins? Same old companies, same old rich people. Who pays? Civilization and its future generations do…and that includes your sons and daughters who get to go to war under false pretences.

I have a couple of suggestions for Mr. & Mrs. American Voter.

1. Stop your government from selling or giving weapons of war to other nations. This is the only way that peace will come to the world. No one wants to live in a war zone they just want to live their lives and enjoy their families just like you.

2. Turn off your TV sets and get onto the Internet where your Government cannot control you by propaganda!

3. Cut the strings of the puppeteers by removing their Federal Reserve Bank. Take your money out of the Private Banks and stuff it in a mattress. Stop filing an income tax return…there is no law that says you have to. (By the way, income tax, 35% of your money, goes right into the pockets of the very same wealthy people, not your Government.) Your American Constitution protects you from not filing income tax returns!

Aaron Russo's Documentary ''America Freedom To Fascism''

Stop your government from supplying arms right now by calling, e-mailing, or faxing your congressperson. Tell them you will not support them!

The peace of the World and the safety of our children depends on you! Don’t let the Bush family get away with this. Impeach, Impeach, Impeach!!!

# 123 456 789

Friday, July 20, 2007

While Washington Slept

While Washington Slept 

By Mark Hertsgaard
Vanity Fair

Monday 17 April 2006

The Queen of England is afraid. International C.E.O.'s are nervous. And the scientific establishment is loud and clear. If global warming isn't halted, rising sea levels could submerge coastal cities by 2100. So how did this virtual certainty get labeled a "liberal hoax?"

Ten months before Hurricane Katrina left much of New Orleans underwater, Queen Elizabeth II had a private conversation with Prime Minister Tony Blair about George W. Bush. The Queen's tradition of meeting once a week with Britain's elected head of government to discuss matters of state - usually on Tuesday evenings in Buckingham Palace and always alone, to ensure maximum confidentiality - goes back to 1952, the year she ascended the throne. In all that time, the contents of those chats rarely if ever leaked.

So it was extraordinary when London's Observer reported, on October 31, 2004, that the Queen had "made a rare intervention in world politics" by telling Blair of "her grave concerns over the White House's stance on global warming." The Observer did not name its sources, but one of them subsequently spoke to Vanity Fair.

"The Queen first of all made it clear that Buckingham Palace would be happy to help raise awareness about the climate problem," says the source, a high-level environmental expert who was briefed about the conversation. "[She was] definitely concerned about the American position and hoped the prime minister could help change [it]."

Press aides for both the Queen and the prime minister declined to comment on the meeting, as is their habit. But days after the Observer story appeared, the Queen indeed raised awareness by presiding over the opening of a British-German conference on climate change, in Berlin. "I might just point out, that's a pretty unusual thing for her to do," says Sir David King, Britain's chief scientific adviser. "She doesn't take part in anything that would be overtly political." King, who has briefed the Queen on climate change, would not comment on the Observer report except to say, "If it were true, it wouldn't surprise me."

With spring arriving in England three weeks earlier than it did 50 years ago, the Queen could now see signs of climate change with her own eyes. Sandringham, her country estate north of London, overlooks Britain's premier bird-watching spot: the vast North Sea wetlands known as the Wash. A lifelong outdoorswoman, the Queen had doubtless observed the V-shaped flocks of pink-footed geese that descend on the Wash every winter. But in recent years, says Mark Avery, conservation director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, she also would have seen a species new to the area: little egrets. These shiny white birds are native to Southern Europe, Avery says, "but in the last 5 to 10 years they have spread very rapidly to Northern Europe. We can't prove this is because of rising temperatures, but it sure looks like it."

Temperatures are rising, the Queen learned from King and other scientists, because greenhouse gases are trapping heat in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide, the most prevalent of such gases, is released whenever fossil fuels are burned or forests catch fire. Global warming, the scientists explained, threatens to raise sea levels as much as three feet by the end of the 21st century, thanks to melting glaciers and swollen oceans. (Water expands when heated.)

This would leave much of eastern England, including areas near Sandringham, underwater. Global warming would also bring more heat waves like the one in the summer of 2003 that killed 31,000 people across Europe. It might even shut down the Gulf Stream, the flow of warm water from the Gulf of Mexico that gives Europe its mild climate. If the Gulf Stream were to halt - and it has already slowed 30 percent since 1992 - Europe's temperatures would plunge, agriculture would collapse, London would no longer feel like New York but like Anchorage.

The Queen, says King, "got it" on climate change, and she wasn't alone. "Everyone in this country, from the political parties to the scientific establishment, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, to our oil companies and the larger business community, has come to a popular consensus about climate change - a sense of alarm and a conviction that action is needed now, not in the future," says Tony Juniper, executive director of the British arm of the environmental group Friends of the Earth.

At the time of his meeting with the Queen, Blair was being attacked on climate change from all ideological sides, with even the Conservatives charging that he was not doing enough. Yet Blair's statements on the issue went far beyond those of most world leaders. He had called the Kyoto Protocol, which has been ratified by 162 countries and requires industrial nations to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 5 percent below 1990 levels, "not radical enough." The world's climate scientists, Blair pointed out, had estimated that 60 percent cuts in emissions were needed, and he committed Britain to reaching that goal by 2050.

But it wouldn't matter how much Britain cut its greenhouse-gas emissions if other nations didn't do the same. The US was key, not only because it was the world's largest emitter but because its refusal to reduce emissions led China, India, Brazil, and other large developing countries to ask why they should do so. All this Blair had also said publicly. In 2001 he criticized the Bush administration for withdrawing from the Kyoto Protocol. In 2004 he said it was essential to bring the US into the global effort against climate change, despite its opposition to Kyoto.

It was no secret that Bush opposed mandatory emissions limits, but Blair, who had risked his political future to back the deeply unpopular war in Iraq, was uniquely positioned to lobby the president. Bush owed him one. At the same time, Blair needed to show his domestic audience that he could stand up to Bush, that he wasn't the presidential "poodle" his critics claimed.

To compel Bush to engage the issue, Blair made climate change a lead agenda item at the July 2005 meeting of the Group of 8, the alliance of the world's eight richest nations. A month before the meeting, which was held at Gleneagles, in Scotland, Blair flew to Washington to see Bush face-to-face. That same day, the national academies of science of all the G-8 nations, as well as those of China, India, and Brazil, released a joint statement declaring that climate change was a grave problem that required immediate action.

On the morning of July 7, the summit was interrupted by the shocking news that four suicide bombers had set off explosions in London, killing 56 people. Blair rushed to the scene, but he returned that night, still determined to secure an agreement.

In the end, however, Bush held firm. Washington vetoed all references to mandatory emissions cuts or timelines, and the climate-change issue was overshadowed by African debt relief, which had been publicized by Bob Geldof's Live 8 concerts.

"There were no tough targets at Gleneagles because we would not have got all signatures on the document," says King, who adds, "We might well have" gotten seven - that is, every nation but the US. The farthest the G-8 leaders went - and even this required a battle, says King - was to include a sentence that read, in part, "While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now."

But seven weeks later, nature acted first, and it was the United States she hit.

No one can say for sure whether global warming caused Hurricane Katrina, which slammed into the Gulf Coast on August 29, 2005. But it certainly fit the pattern. The scientific rule of thumb is that one can never blame any one weather event on any single cause. The earth's weather system is too complex for that. Most scientists agree, however, that global warming makes extra-strong hurricanes such as Katrina more likely because it encourages hot oceans, a precondition of hurricane formation.

"It's a bit like saying, 'My grandmother died of lung cancer, and she smoked for the last 20 years of her life - smoking killed her,'" explains Kerry Emanuel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who has studied hurricanes for 20 years. "Well, the problem is, there are an awful lot of people who die of lung cancer who never smoked. There are a lot of people who smoked all their lives and die of something else. So all you can say, even [though] the evidence statistically is clear connecting lung cancer to smoking, is that [the grandmother] upped her probability."

Just weeks before Katrina struck, Emanuel published a paper in the scientific journal Nature demonstrating that hurricanes had grown more powerful as global temperatures rose in the 20th century. Now, he says, by adding more greenhouse gases to the earth's atmosphere, humans are "loading the climatic dice in favor of more powerful hurricanes in the future."

But most Americans heard nothing about Hurricane Katrina's association with global warming. Media coverage instead reflected the views of the Bush administration - specifically, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which declared that the hurricane was the result of natural factors. An outcry from N.O.A.A.'s scientists led the agency to backtrack from that statement in February 2006, but by then conventional wisdom was set in place. Post-Katrina New Orleans may eventually be remembered as the first major US casualty of global warming, yet most Americans still don't know what hit us.

Sad to say, Katrina was the perfect preview of what global warming might look like in the 21st century. First, Katrina struck a city that was already below sea level - which is where rising waters could put many coastal dwellers in the years ahead. In 2001, the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (I.P.C.C.), a peer-reviewed, international collaboration among thousands of scientists that is the world's leading authority on climate change, predicted that sea levels could rise as much as three feet by 2100. By coincidence, three feet is about how much New Orleans sank during the 20th century. That was because levees built to keep the Mississippi River from flooding also kept the river from depositing silt that would have replenished the underlying land mass, explains Mike Tidwell, the author of Bayou Farewell: The Rich Life and Tragic Death of Louisiana's Cajun Coast. "You could say that in New Orleans we brought the ocean to the people," Tidwell adds, "which is pretty much what global warming will do to other cities in the future."

What's more, Katrina was a Category 5 hurricane, the strongest there is. Such extreme weather events will likely become more frequent as global warming intensifies, says the I.P.C.C. Yes, Katrina's winds had slowed to high - Category 3 levels by the time it made landfall, but it was the hurricane's storm surge that killed people - a surge that formed in the Gulf of Mexico when the storm was still Category 5. Thus, Katrina unleashed 10 to 15 feet of water on a city that was already significantly below sea level.

To envision global warming's future impacts, the illustrations accompanying this article reflect this and other scenarios. [For illustrations, see the May 2006 issue of Vanity Fair.] The three large-scale illustrations are an artist's interpretations of projections generated for Vanity Fair by Applied Science Associates Inc. (, a marine-science consulting firm based in Rhode Island. The projections do not account for small-scale features such as coastal-protection structures.

The effects of a three-foot sea-level rise compounded by a storm surge from a Category 3 hurricane are shown in the image of the Hamptons, which would suffer severe flooding. The image of Washington, D.C., shows the effects of a 20-foot sea-level rise, which is what scientists expect if the entire Greenland ice sheet melts. The ice sheet has shrunk 50 cubic miles in the past year alone, and is now melting twice as fast as previously believed.

Finally, the image of New York City shows the effects of an 80-foot rise in sea levels. That's what would happen if not only the Greenland ice sheet but its counterpart in the Antarctic were to melt, says James Hansen, the director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. Hansen, who put climate change on the media map in 1988 by saying that man-made global warming had already begun, made headlines again earlier this year when he complained that White House political appointees were trying to block him from speaking freely about the need for rapid reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions. Hansen warns that, if global emissions continue on their current trajectory, the ice sheets will not survive, because global temperatures will increase by 2 to 3 degrees Celsius by the end of this century. "The last time the earth was that warm, sea levels were 80 feet higher than today," he says. It will likely take hundreds of years for sea levels to rise the full 80 feet, but the process would be irreversible, and the rises would not be gradual. "You're going to be continually faced with a changing coastline, which will force coastal dwellers to constantly relocate," he says.

This article's smaller, aerial-view illustrations are based on simulations by the National Environmental Trust, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C. N.E.T. relied on data from the I.P.C.C., the US Geological Survey, and the N.O.A.A. Additional N.E.T. simulations are available at Philip Clapp, N.E.T.'s president, says, "The US government has never released its own simulations. The Bush administration doesn't want these pictures in front of the American people because they show that a three-foot sea-level rise plus storm flooding would have catastrophic consequences."

In New York, it would leave much of Lower Manhattan, including the Ground Zero memorial and the entire financial district, underwater. La Guardia and John F. Kennedy airports would meet the same fate. In Washington, D.C., the Potomac River would swell dramatically, stretching all the way to the Capitol lawn and to within two blocks of the White House.

Since roughly half the world's 6.5 billion people live near coastlines, a three-foot sea-level rise would be even more punishing overseas. Amsterdam, Venice, Cairo, Shanghai, Manila, and Calcutta are some of the cities most threatened. In many places the people and governments are too poor to erect adequate barriers - think of low-lying Bangladesh, where an estimated 18 million people are at risk - so experts fear that they will migrate to neighboring lands, raising the prospect of armed conflict. A Pentagon-commissioned study warned in 2003 that climate change could bring mega-droughts, mass starvation, and even nuclear war as countries such as China, India, and Pakistan battle over scarce food and water.

These are just some of the reasons why David King wrote in Science in 2004, "Climate change is the most severe problem that we are facing today - more serious even than the threat of terrorism." King's comment raised hackles in Washington and led a top press aide to Tony Blair to try to muzzle him. But the science adviser tells me he "absolutely" stands by his statement. By no means does King underestimate terrorism; advising the British government on that threat, he says, "is a very important part of my job." But the hazards presented by climate change are so severe and far-reaching that, in his view, they overshadow not only every other environmental threat but every other threat, period.

"Take India," King says. "Their monsoon is a fact of life that they have developed their agricultural economy around. If the monsoon is down by 10 percent one year, they have massive losses of crops. If it's 10 percent over, they have massive flood problems. [If climate change ends up] switching off the monsoon in India, or even changing it outside those limits, it would lead to massive global economic de-stabilization. The kind of situation we need to avoid creating is one where populations are so de-stabilized - Bangladesh being flooded, India no food - that they're all seeking alternative habitats. These, in our globalized economy, would be very difficult for all of us to manage."

The worst scenarios of global warming might still be avoided, scientists say, if humanity reduces its greenhouse-gas emissions dramatically, and very soon. The I.P.C.C. has estimated that emissions must fall to 60 percent below 1990 levels before 2050, over a period when global population is expected to increase by 37 percent and per-capita energy consumption will surely rise as billions of people in Asia, Africa, and South America strive to ascend from poverty.

Yet even if such a reduction were achieved, a significant rise in sea levels may be unavoidable. "It's getting harder and harder to say we'll avoid a three-foot sea-level rise, though it won't necessarily happen in this century," says Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton. Oppenheimer's pessimism is rooted in the lag effects of the climate system: oceans store heat for a century or longer before releasing it; carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere for decades or longer before dissipating.

According to King, even if humanity were to stop emitting carbon dioxide today, "temperatures will keep rising and all the impacts will keep changing for about 25 years."

The upshot is that it has become too late to prevent climate change; we can only adapt to it. This unhappy fact is not well understood by the general public; advocates downplay it, perhaps for fear of fostering a paralyzing despair. But there is no getting around it: because humanity waited so long to take decisive action, we are now stuck with a certain amount of global warming and the climate changes it will bring - rising seas, fiercer heat, deeper droughts, stronger storms. The World Health Organization estimates that climate change is already helping to kill 150,000 people a year, mainly in Africa and Asia. That number is bound to rise as global warming intensifies in the years ahead.

The inevitability of global warming does not mean we should not act, King emphasizes: "The first message to our political leaders is, action is required. Whether or not we get global agreement to reduce emissions, we all need to adapt to the impacts that are in the pipeline." That means doing all the things that were not done in New Orleans: building sound levees and seawalls, restoring coastal wetlands (which act like speed bumps to weaken hurricanes' storm surges), strengthening emergency-preparedness networks and health-care systems, and much more.

Beyond this crucial first step - which most governments worldwide have yet to consider - humanity can cushion the severity of future global warming by limiting greenhouse-gas emissions. Hansen says we must stabilize emissions - which currently are rising 2 percent a year - by 2015, and then reduce them. Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change, a book based on a scientific conference convened by Tony Blair before the G-8 summit, estimates that we may have until 2025 to peak and reduce.

The goal is to stop global warming before it crosses tipping points and attains unstoppable momentum from "positive feedbacks." For example, should the Greenland ice sheet melt, white ice - which reflects sunlight back into space - would be replaced by dark water, which absorbs sunlight and drives further warming.

Positive feedbacks can trigger the kind of abrupt, irreversible climate changes that scientists call "nonlinear." Once again, Hurricane Katrina provides a sobering preview of what that means. "Hurricanes are the mother of all nonlinear events, because small changes in initial conditions can lead to enormous changes in outcomes," says Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, the director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and the former chief environmental adviser to the German government. "A few percent increase in a hurricane's wind speed can double its destructiveness under certain circumstances."

Although scientists apply the neutral term "climate change" to all of these phenomena, "climate chaos" better conveys the abrupt, interconnected, wide-ranging consequences that lie in store. "It's a very appropriate term for the layperson," says Schellnhuber, a physicist who specializes in chaos theory. "I keep telling politicians that I'm not so concerned about a gradual climate change that may force farmers in Great Britain to plant different crops. I'm worried about triggering positive feedbacks that, in the worst case, could kick off some type of runaway greenhouse dynamics."

Among the reasons climate change is a bigger problem than terrorism, David King tells me, is that the problem is rooted in humanity's burning of oil, coal, and natural gas, "and people don't want to let that go." Which is understandable. These carbon-based fuels have powered civilization since the dawn of the industrial era, delivering enormous wealth, convenience, and well-being even as they overheated the atmosphere. Luckily, the idea that reducing greenhouse-gas emissions will wreck our economy, as President Bush said in 2005 when defending his opposition to the Kyoto Protocol, is disproved by experience. "In Britain," King told the environmental Web site Grist, "our economy since 1990 has grown by about 40 percent, and our emissions have decreased by 14 percent."

Ultimately, society must shift onto a new energy foundation based on alternative fuels, not only because of global warming but also because oil "will get harder and costlier to find" in the years ahead, says Ronald Oxburgh, the former chairman of the British arm of Royal Dutch Shell oil. "The group around President Bush have been saying that, even if climate change is real, it would be terribly costly to shift away from carbon-based fuels," Oxburgh continues. "Of course it would, if you try to make the change overnight. But that's not how you do it. If governments make the decision to shift our society to a new energy foundation, and they make it clear to everyone this is what we're doing by laying out clear requirements and incentives, corporations will respond and get the job done."

The opening move in this transition is to invest massively in energy efficiency. Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a think tank that consults for corporations and governments around the world, has demonstrated that measures such as insulating buildings and driving more fuel-efficient vehicles could reduce humanity's consumption of energy and natural resources by a factor of four. And efficiency investments have a demonstrated record of creating jobs and boosting profits, suggesting that emissions can be reduced without crippling economies.

One of the first moves Angela Merkel announced as the new chancellor of Germany last fall was the extension of a Green Party initiative to upgrade energy efficiency in the nation's pre-1978 housing stock. Most of that housing is in the former East Germany, where unemployment approaches 20 percent. Replacing old furnaces and installing efficient windows and lights will produce thousands of well-paying laborers' jobs that by their nature cannot be outsourced.

Corporations, too, have discovered that energy efficiency can be profitable. Over a three-year period beginning in 1999, BP invested $20 million to reduce the emissions from its internal operations and saved $650 million - 32 times the original investment.

Individuals can cash in as well. Although buying a super-efficient car or refrigerator may cost more up front, over time it saves the consumer money through lower energy bills.

Efficiency is no silver bullet, nor can it forever neutralize the effects of billions of people consuming more and more all the time. It can, however, buy humanity time to further develop and deploy alternative-energy technologies. Solar and wind power have made enormous strides in recent years, but the technology to watch is carbon sequestration, a method of capturing and then safely storing the carbon dioxide produced by the combustion of fossil fuels. In theory, sequestration would allow nations to continue burning coal - the most abundant fuel in the world, and the foundation of the Chinese and Indian economies - without worsening the climate problem. "If carbon capture is not feasible, our choices are much less good, and the cost of climate change is going to be much higher," says Jeffrey D. Sachs, the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and a special adviser to the United Nations.

No one pretends that phasing out carbon-based fuels will be easy. The momentum of the climate system means that "a certain amount of pain is inevitable," says Michael Oppenheimer. "But we still have a choice between pain and disaster."

Unfortunately, we are getting a late start, which is something of a puzzle. The threat of global warming has been recognized at the highest levels of government for more than 25 years. Former president Jimmy Carter highlighted it in 1980, and Al Gore championed it in Congress throughout the 1980s. Margaret Thatcher, the arch-conservative prime minister of Britain from 1979 to 1990, delivered some of the hardest-hitting speeches ever given on climate change. But progress stalled in the 1990s, even as Gore was elected vice president and the scientific case grew definitive. It turned out there were powerful pockets of resistance to tackling this problem, and they put up a hell of a fight.

Call him the $45 million man. That's how much money Dr. Frederick Seitz, a former president of the National Academy of Sciences, helped R. J. Reynolds Industries, Inc., give away to fund medical research in the 1970s and 1980s. The research avoided the central health issue facing Reynolds - "They didn't want us looking at the health effects of cigarette smoking," says Seitz, who is now 94 - but it nevertheless served the tobacco industry's purposes. Throughout those years, the industry frequently ran ads in newspapers and magazines citing its multi-million-dollar research program as proof of its commitment to science - and arguing that the evidence on the health effects of smoking was mixed.

In the 1990s, Seitz began arguing that the science behind global warming was likewise inconclusive and certainly didn't warrant imposing mandatory limits on greenhouse-gas emissions. He made his case vocally, trashing the integrity of a 1995 I.P.C.C. report on the op-ed page of The Wall Street Journal, signing a letter to the Clinton administration accusing it of misrepresenting the science, and authoring a paper which said that global warming and ozone depletion were exaggerated threats devised by environmentalists and unscrupulous scientists pushing a political agenda. In that same paper, Seitz asserted that secondhand smoke posed no real health risks, an opinion he repeats in our interview. "I just can't believe it's that bad," he says.

Al Gore and others have said, but generally without offering evidence, that the people who deny the dangers of climate change are like the tobacco executives who denied the dangers of smoking. The example of Frederick Seitz, described here in full for the first time, shows that the two camps overlap in ways that are quite literal - and lucrative. Seitz earned approximately $585,000 for his consulting work for R. J. Reynolds, according to company documents unearthed by researchers for the Greenpeace Web site and confirmed by Seitz. Meanwhile, during the years he consulted for Reynolds, Seitz continued to draw a salary as president emeritus at Rockefeller University, an institution founded in 1901 and subsidized with profits from Standard Oil, the predecessor corporation of ExxonMobil.

Seitz was the highest-ranking scientist among a band of doubters who, beginning in the early 1990s, resolutely disputed suggestions that climate change was a real and present danger. As a former president of the National Academy of Sciences (from 1962 to 1969) and a winner of the National Medal of Science, Seitz gave such objections instant credibility. Richard Lindzen, a professor of meteorology at M.I.T., was another high-profile scientist who consistently denigrated the case for global warming. But most of the public argument was carried by lesser scientists and, above all, by lobbyists and paid spokesmen for the Global Climate Coalition. Created and funded by the energy and auto industries, the Coalition spent millions of dollars spreading the message that global warming was an uncertain threat. Journalist Ross Gelbspan exposed the corporate campaign in his 1997 book, The Heat Is On, which quoted a 1991 strategy memo: the goal was to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact."

"Not trivial" is how Seitz reckons the influence he and fellow skeptics have had, and their critics agree. The effect on media coverage was striking, according to Bill McKibben, who in 1989 published the first major popular book on global warming, The End of Nature. Introducing the 10th-anniversary edition, in 1999, McKibben noted that virtually every week over the past decade studies had appeared in scientific publications painting an ever more alarming picture of the global-warming threat. Most news reports, on the other hand, "seem to be coming from some other planet."

The deniers' arguments were frequently cited in Washington policy debates. Their most important legislative victory was the Senate's 95-to-0 vote in 1997 to oppose US participation in any international agreement - i.e., the Kyoto Protocol - that imposed mandatory greenhouse-gas reductions on the US.

The ferocity of this resistance helps explain why the Clinton administration achieved so little on climate change, says Tim Wirth, the first under-secretary of state for global affairs, who served as President Clinton's chief climate negotiator. "The opponents were so strongly organized that the administration got spooked and backed off of things it should have done," says Wirth. "The Kyoto negotiations got watered down and watered down, and after we signed it the administration didn't try to get it ratified. They didn't even send people up to the Hill to talk to senators about ratifying it."

"I wanted to push for ratification," responds Gore. "A decision was made not to. If our congressional people had said there was even a remote chance of ratifying, I could have convinced Clinton to do it - his heart was in the right place. ... But I remember a meeting in the White House with some environmental groups where I asked them for the names of 10 senators who would vote to ratify. They came up with one, Paul Wellstone. If your most optimistic supporters can't identify 10 likely gettables, then people in the administration start to ask, 'Are you a fanatic, Al? Is this a suicide mission?'" (Clinton did not respond to e-mailed questions.)

James Hansen, without singling out any individual, accuses global-warming deniers of "acting like lawyers, not scientists, because no matter what new evidence comes in, their conclusion is already decided." Richard Lindzen responds that Hansen has been wrong time and time again and operates "one of the worst climate models around." Lindzen agrees that both global temperature and atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide have increased over the last century. But temperatures won't rise much further, he says, because humans aren't the main driving force in the climate system. The reason most scientists disagree with him, Lindzen explains, is simple careerism. "Once President Bush the elder began spending $2 billion a year on climate science, scientists developed a self-interest in maintaining this is an urgent problem," he says, adding that the scientific community's fixation on climate change will be remembered as an episode of "mass insanity."

Among many rebuttals to the deniers' arguments, perhaps the most authoritative collection is found on the Web site of Britain's national academy of science, the Royal Society. But such rebuttals have little impact on true believers, says Robert May, the Society's former president. "[Nobel Prize - winning physicist] Max Planck used to say that people don't change their minds [because of evidence]," he adds. "The science simply moves on and those people eventually die off."

But if the deniers appear to have lost the scientific argument, they prolonged the policy battle, delaying actions to reduce emissions when such cuts mattered most. "For 25 years, people have been warning that we had a window of opportunity to take action, and if we waited until the effects were obvious it would be too late to avoid major consequences," says Oppenheimer. "Had some individual countries, especially the United States, begun to act in the early to mid-1990s, we might have made it. But we didn't, and now the impacts are here."

"The goal of the disinformation campaign wasn't to win the debate," says Gelbspan. "The goal was simply to keep the debate going. When the public hears the media report that some scientists believe warming is real but others don't, its reaction is 'Come back and tell us when you're really sure.' So no political action is taken."

Representative Henry Waxman, the California Democrat who chaired the 1994 hearings where tobacco executives unanimously declared under oath that cigarettes were not addictive, watches today's global-warming deniers with a sense of déjà vu. It all reminds him of the confidential slogan a top tobacco flack coined when arguing that the science on smoking remained unsettled: "Doubt is our product." Now, Waxman says, "not only are we seeing the same tactics the tobacco industry used, we're seeing some of the same groups. For example, the Advancement of Sound Science Coalition was created [in 1993] to debunk the dangers of secondhand smoking before it moved on to global warming."

The scientific work Frederick Seitz oversaw for R. J. Reynolds from 1978 to 1987 was "perfectly fine research, but off the point," says Stanton A. Glantz, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a lead author of The Cigarette Papers (1996), which exposed the inner workings of the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Corporation. "Looking at stress, at genetics, at lifestyle issues let Reynolds claim it was funding real research. But then it could cloud the issue by saying, 'Well, what about this other possible causal factor?' It's like coming up with 57 other reasons for Hurricane Katrina rather than global warming."

For his part, Seitz says he was comfortable taking tobacco money, "as long as it was green. I'm not quite clear about this moralistic issue. We had absolutely free rein to decide how the money was spent." Did the research give the tobacco industry political cover? "I'll leave that to the philosophers and priests," he replies.

Seitz is equally nonplussed by the extraordinary disavowal the National Academy of Sciences issued following his most visible intervention in the global-warming debate. In 1998 he urged fellow scientists to sign an Oregon group's petition saying that global warming was much ado about little. The petition attracted more than 17,000 signatories and received widespread media attention. But posted along with the petition was a paper by four global-warming deniers that was presented in virtually the same layout and typeface used by the National Academy of Sciences in its scholarly journal. The formatting, combined with Seitz's signature, gave the clear impression that the academy endorsed the petition. The academy quickly released a statement disclaiming any connection with the petition or its suggestion that global warming was not real. Scientific American later determined that only 1,400 of the petition's signatories claimed to hold a Ph.D. in a climate-related science, and of these, some either were not even aware of the petition or later changed their minds.

Today, Seitz admits that "it was stupid" for the Oregon activists to copy the academy's format. Still, he doesn't understand why the academy felt compelled to disavow the petition, which he continues to cite as proof that it is "not true" there is a scientific consensus on global warming.

The accumulation of scientific evidence eventually led British Petroleum to resign from the Global Climate Coalition in 1996. Shell, Ford, and other corporations soon left as well, and in 2002 the coalition closed down. But Gelbspan, whose Web site tracks the deniers' activities, notes that key coalition personnel have since taken up positions in the Bush administration, including Harlan Watson, the State Department's chief climate negotiator. (Watson declined to be interviewed.)

ExxonMobil - long the most recalcitrant corporation on global warming - is still spending millions of dollars a year funding an array of organizations that downplay the problem, including the George C. Marshall Institute, where Seitz is chairman emeritus. John Passacantando, executive director of Greenpeace USA, calls the denial campaign "one of the great crimes of our era." Passacantando is "quite confident" that class-action lawsuits will eventually be filed against corporations who denied global warming's dangers. Five years ago, he told executives from one company, "You're going to wish you were the tobacco companies once this stuff hits and people realize you were the ones who blocked [action]."

The public discussion about climate change in the US is years behind that in Britain and the rest of Europe, and the deniers are a big reason why. "In the United States, the Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers are deeply skeptical of climate-change science and the need to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions," says Fiona Harvey, the environment correspondent for the Financial Times. "In Britain, the equivalent body, the Confederation of British Industry, is absolutely behind the science and agrees on the need to cut emissions. The only differences are over how to do that."

America's media coverage is also well behind the curve, says Harvey. "In the United States you have lots of news stories that, in the name of balance, give equal credence to the skeptics. We don't do that here - not because we're not balanced but because we think it's unbalanced to give equal validity to a fringe few with no science behind them."

Prominent right-wing media outlets in the US, especially the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal, continue to parrot the claims of climate-change deniers. (Paul A. Gigot, the page's editor, declined to be interviewed.) Few beat reporters are still taken in, but their bosses - the editors and producers who decide which stories run, and how prominently - are another matter. Charles Alexander, the former environmental editor at Time, complains that, while coverage has improved recently, media executives continue to regard climate change as just another environmental issue, rather than as the overriding challenge of the 21st century.

"Americans are hearing more about reducing greenhouse emissions from BP ads than from news stories in Time, The New York Times, or any other US media outlet," Alexander says. "This will go down as the greatest act of mass denial in history."

In 2002, Alexander went to see Andrew Heyward, then the president of CBS News, after running into him at a Harvard reunion. "I talked to him about climate change and other global environmental threats, and made the case that they were more dangerous than terrorism and CBS should be doing much more coverage of them," Alexander recalls. "He didn't dispute any of my factual points, but he did say the reason CBS didn't do more of that coverage was that 'people don't want to hear all that gloom and doom' - in other words, the environment wasn't a ratings winner. He seemed to think CBS News's job was to tell people what they wanted to hear, not what they need to know, and I think that attitude is increasingly true for the news business in general."

"That's bullshit," responds Heyward, who left CBS in 2005. "I've never been one of those guys who thinks news has to be light and bright. And in talking to Charles, I wasn't stating the policy of CBS News. I was just trying to explain to an old college classmate why there isn't more coverage of the environment on TV. Charles is an advocate, and advocates are never happy with the amount of coverage their cause gets."

American television did, however, give prime-time coverage to the latest, and most famous, global-warming denier: novelist Michael Crichton. ABC's 20/20 broadcast a very friendly interview with Crichton when he published State of Fear, a novel arguing that anyone who bought into the phony scientific consensus on global warming was a modern equivalent of the early-20th-century eugenicists who cited scientific "proof" for the superiority of the white race.

When Crichton was invited to testify before the Environment and Public Works Committee, observers in Britain were floored. "This is fairyland," exclaims Michael Meacher, the member of Parliament who served as Tony Blair's environment minister from 1997 to 2003. "You have a science-fiction writer testifying before the United States Senate on global-warming policy? I mean, you can almost see the little boy off to the side, like in the story of the emperor's clothes, saying, 'But he's a science-fiction writer, isn't he?' It's just ludicrous."

The man who invited Crichton, committee chairman James M. Inhofe, a Republican from oil-rich Oklahoma, had already said on the floor of the Senate that global warming was "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." In an e-mail interview, Inhofe defended Crichton's appearance, noting that the writer holds a medical degree from Harvard. (Crichton is also a post-doctoral fellow at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies.) The senator added that he stood by his hoax statement as well.

David King responded that Britain's climate-science research is headquartered within the Ministry of Defense, "and you wouldn't find a group of people less likely to perpetrate a hoax than the people in the Ministry of Defense."

King has "extremist views," Inhofe replied. If the I.P.C.C. and the world's leading academies of science echo King's views, he argued, it is because they actively silence dissidents: "Scientists who believe warming trends are naturally occurring, or benign, are almost always excluded from climate-change conferences and meetings because their conclusions do not support the political agendas of the others who host the conferences." (The I.P.C.C. denies this accusation.) The truth, Inhofe continued, is that "there is no consensus on the science of global warming." As proof, he cited - what else? - Frederick Seitz's Oregon petition.

Paul H. O'Neill, who served nearly two years as George W. Bush's secretary of the Treasury, does not buy the common notion that Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney resist taking action on global warming because they are oilmen. "I don't think either one of them is an oilman," insists O'Neill. "You have to have success to be an oilman. It's like saying you're a ballplayer, but you never got on the field."

In 1998, while running the aluminum giant Alcoa, O'Neill was among the first US business leaders to recognize the enormity of climate change. He says Bush asked him, early in the first term, to put together a plan of action, but it was ignored. Like Bush, O'Neill opposed Kyoto, so he proposed other ways to move forward. But instead, he says, the administration "cherry-picked" the science on climate change to justify taking no action, "just like it cherry-picked the intelligence on weapons of mass destruction" to justify the invasion of Iraq.

"The United States is the only entity on this planet turning its back on this problem," says Massachusetts senator John Kerry. "Even as he talks about protecting the security of the nation, the president is willfully choosing not to tackle this problem. History will record it as one of the greatest derelictions of duty ever."

Bush-administration officials counter that they are doing more to fight global warming than anyone else - just with different tools than those favored by supporters of the Kyoto Protocol. James L. Connaughton, the head of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, starts by pointing out that Bush has raised federal mileage standards for S.U.V.'s and light trucks. When I point out that the increase is tiny (a mere 0.3 miles per gallon, says Dan Becker of the Sierra Club), Connaughton maintains that over time further increases will result in substantial energy savings, especially when paired with the administration's new tax credits for efficient vehicles. It's also important, he says, to "keep personal income taxes in check" to encourage people to buy these new cars. What's more, the administration recently provided $10 billion in incentives for alternative-energy development and $40 billion over 10 years to encourage farmers to plant trees and preserve grassland that can soak up carbon dioxide.

The administration opposes the Kyoto Protocol, Connaughton claims, because its mandatory emissions cuts would punish the American economy, costing as many as five million jobs. It would also dry up the capital needed to fund the technological research that will ultimately solve global warming.

"It's important not to get distracted by chasing short-term reductions in greenhouse emissions. The real payoff is in long-term technological breakthroughs," says John H. Marburger III, the president's science adviser. Besides, "there is no question that mitigating the impact of climate change as it takes place will be much less [expensive] than the costs of reducing oil and coal use in the short term."

"The world is now on a trajectory to slow the growth in greenhouse-gas emissions," concludes Connaughton, who as a lawyer represented mining and chemical interests before joining the administration. "I'm highly confident we will stabilize [those emissions]." He says that's exactly what happened over the last 80 years with air pollution. He seems to take pleasure in observing that, under Bush, the US has actually reduced its annual emissions, which, he says, is more than some of its harshest critics overseas have done.

It's a cheerful story, but virtually no one else believes it. Waiting 80 years to eliminate greenhouse-gas emissions would guarantee runaway global warming, says James Hansen. In January, six former chiefs of the Environmental Protection Agency, including five who served Republican presidents, said Bush needed to do much more to fight climate change. In Britain, Peter Ainsworth, the Conservative Party's shadow secretary of state for the environment, says his party is "saddened" by the Bush administration's approach. "We would have preferred the Bush administration to take a leadership position on this problem ... instead of allowing itself to be seen as foot-dragging."

Outsiders doubt President Bush's desire to confront the issue, pointing out that his right-wing political base agrees with Inhofe that global warming is a liberal hoax. Critics also question the administration's faith in volunteerism. They argue that imposing mandatory timelines and emissions limits would put a price tag on carbon and push corporations and individuals to use less of it. "Long-term research is fine, but to offer that as a substitute for the stark necessity of near-term cuts in emissions is a kind of magical thinking - trusting that something will happen to make everything all right," says Donald Kennedy, the editor in chief of Science. In fact, despite Bush's call to end our "addiction" to oil, his 2007 budget actually reduced funding for alternative energy and efficiency.

Nor has the Bush administration cut short-term emissions, says a European diplomat who requested anonymity because he has to work with Bush officials. Citing data from the Energy Information Administration, the diplomat says Connaughton is correct to say that US greenhouse-gas emissions declined, but only in the single year following the 2001 terrorist attacks, owing to the ensuing economic recession. US emissions increased in every other year of Bush's presidency, making it "complete hokum" to claim that Bush's policies are cutting emissions, the diplomat says, adding of Connaughton, "I'm afraid Jim has drunk the Kool-Aid."

As for John Marburger's assertion that it will be cheaper to adapt to climate change than to try to head it off, Michael Oppenheimer says, "It's a sad day when the president is being told by his science adviser that climate change isn't worth avoiding. It may be possible for rich nations and people to adapt, but 90 percent of humanity doesn't have the resources to deal with climate change. It's unethical to condemn them just because the people in power don't want to act."

"I think it is a slam dunk that we are on a path of dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate, and it is also absolutely clear that what this administration has proposed so far will not get us off that path," says Jeffrey Sachs. "The administration says several things I agree with: technology is extremely important, global warming is a long-term issue, and we can't do it without China and India [because their greenhouse-gas emissions will soon outstrip our own]. But none of this adds up to taking no action. The fact that China and other developing economies have to be involved doesn't mean the United States refuses to commit to specific actions; it means the US should commit itself, in part to help bring the others in.

"I've had discussions with leaders in China and India," adds Sachs. ''They are very concerned about climate change because they see the effects it could have on them. We should help to set up prototype carbon-capture-and-sequestration power plants in China and India, and the rich countries should help to finance them. It's hard to ask poor countries to bear the full financial burden of these technologies, especially when it is the rich countries' past burning of carbon fuels that has created most of the problem. But the US takes every opportunity to do virtually nothing to engage in practical steps with the developing countries."

Ask Al Gore how to avoid dangerous climate change and, despite his wonkish reputation, he doesn't begin by talking about hybrid cars or carbon sequestration. No, says Gore, the first imperative is to "punch through the massive denial and resistance" that still exist in the United States.

But the rest of the world is no longer waiting for the Bush administration. At the international climate conference held in Montreal last year, European nations called the administration's bluff when it refused to commit even to the breathtakingly modest step of someday discussing what framework might follow the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. At past summits, the administration's stubbornness led other nations to back down in hopes of keeping America involved in the process. At Montreal, the world quit waiting for Godot and recognized, as Elliot Morley, Tony Blair's minister of the environment, says, "there are a lot of voices in the United States in addition to the Bush administration, and we will work with all of them to address this problem."

The same thing is happening inside the US. "It is very clear that Congress will put mandatory greenhouse-gas-emission reductions in place, immediately after George W. Bush leaves office," says Philip Clapp of N.E.T. "Even the Fortune 500 is positioning itself for the inevitable. There isn't one credible 2008 Republican presidential candidate who hasn't abandoned the president's do-nothing approach. They have all adopted the approach the rest of the world took at the Montreal talks - we're moving forward, you're a lame duck, and we have to deal with it."

Regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C., state and local governments across America are aggressively confronting the problem. Two hundred and eight mayors have committed their cities to meet or exceed the emissions reductions mandated by the Kyoto Protocol, and some have gone further. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has committed California to 30 percent cuts by 2020.

California officials have also held talks with their counterparts in Oregon and Washington about launching a so-called carbon-trading system like the one currently in force in Europe. Such a system allows efficient users to profit while wasteful users must pay for burning more fuel. A similar mechanism worked in the 1990s to dramatically reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide - the cause of acid rain - at far less cost than industrialists or environmentalists anticipated.

New York and seven other northeastern states, which together with California amount to the third-biggest economy in the world, are also considering a carbon-trading system. Their collective actions - investing in energy efficiency, installing wind turbines, sequestering carbon - could boost production runs and lower costs to the point where the green technologies needed to fight global warming become affordable for everyone.

At the same time, investors and others worried about global warming are pressuring corporations and Wall Street to take the problem seriously. The Investor Network on Climate Risk, a coalition of pension-fund managers and institutional investors representing $3 trillion in assets, has put corporations on notice that its members will reconsider investing in companies that don't pay enough attention to climate change. In 2005, investment-banking giant Goldman Sachs pledged to embrace carbon trading and invest $1 billion in renewable energy.

"To use a term coined by George W. Bush in the context of the Iraq war, I think this coalition of the willing might be much more successful than the Kyoto process," says Hans Schellnhuber. "I've been to a lot of these international conferences, and it's a pretty frustrating experience that usually produces little more than cheap talk. Whereas a true coalition of the willing can bring together regional governments, enterprises, and individuals and show that it is technologically and economically possible to take meaningful action."

No matter what happens, the global warming that past human activity has already unleashed will make this a different planet in the years ahead. But it could still be a livable, even hospitable, planet, if enough of us get smart in time. If we don't, three feet of water could be just the beginning.

Mark Hertsgaard is the environmental correspondent for The Nation. His article on American nuclear-weapons sites, "Nuclear Insecurity," appeared in Vanity Fair's November 2003 issue.

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