drought baren landA new study suggests the consequences of drought could be worse than we thought.And here the whole time we thought the biggest downsides of climate change were polar melt and flooded coastlines. But a new study suggests that what we really need to fear is prolonged drought. Wet your lips and read on.

Bake it to the limit: Aiguo Dai, a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Colorado came to that conclusion after analyzing 22 computer models. He thinks that unless greenhouse-gas emissions are cut, large areas of the planet, including the U.S. Southwest, are in for some very long, very damaging dry spells within the next 30 years. Few continents would escape — Dai mentions parts of Asia, southern Europe, and much of Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East — and he believes regions bordering the Mediterranean Sea could suffer “almost unprecedented” drought conditions. Says Dai:

We are facing the possibility of widespread drought in the coming decades, but this has yet to be fully recognized by both the public and the climate change research community. If the projections in this study come even close to being realized, the consequences for society worldwide will be enormous. [Discovery News]

Change we don’t need: Which is why military strategists and terrorism experts are focusing more and more on climate change as a major risk to global security. The latest to weigh in is Great Britain’s Strategic Defense and Security Review, which warns that increasing competition for scarce energy and water resources could increase the likelihood of terrorism and armed conflicts. [Business Green]

And in other green news:

Money talks … and talks: So far this year Big Oil and its boosters have spent $68.5 million on TV ads designed to scare people about how shifting to clean energy will hurt the economy. That includes more than $17 million since the beginning of August. Check out the map from the Center for American Progress showing which group is spending where. 

They walk among us: We know that West Virginia’s Democratic candidate for Senate, Joe Manchin, can’t say enough bad things about cap-and-trade — just the other night he warned it would “ruin” the economy of not just his state, but the whole country [Washington Post]. But consider the alternative. At that same debate, Manchin’s Republican opponent John Raese showed himself to be a world-class climate zombie with the following comment: 

When you look at the scenario here in the state of West Virginia and really the myth, and I say myth, that there is global warming, and then the other myth that man causes that global warming, I think that really differentiates me from other candidates, certainly here at the front table today, because I don’t believe in that myth.

Oh, and Raese also said: “Cap-and-trade is not about the environment. It is about controlling manufacturing in this country,”

Queen of the Zombies: Should it come as a surprise that Sarah Palin gives a shout-out to John Raese in her latest Facebook posting? She includes him in what is pretty much a roll call of climate zombies, including Pat Toomey in Pennsylvania, Joe Miller in Alaska, Rand Paul in Kentucky, and Sharron Angle in Nevada, and urges her friends to support these candidates as a last defense against the “cap-and-tax” job killers. She also refers to the U.S. Senate as the “most prestigious deliberative body in the world.” I’ll have what she’s smoking. See for yourself.

Now it’s personal:  Around the country Republican candidates have been singling out the EPA as Exhibit A in making their case that Barack Obama’s administration is government out of control. Now it seems that inside Washington, Republican staffers and lobbyists who feel dissed by EPA Chief Lisa Jackson and her staff are planning their revenge if they take over the House. [Politico]

Full metal racket: It’s starting to get ugly with China. One of the country’s top officials says China will start reducing its rare metals exports. The big problem is that those metals, such as lithium, are critical to producing things such as wind turbines and hybrid cars. As countries around the world ramp up their renewable energy production, China has the potential to choke that progress. [China Daily]

Terminate it!: California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn’t just want California voters to defeat Proposition 23, he wants them to trounce it. How better to message Washington that the nation needs an energy policy [AP]. Meanwhile, about 70 investor and investment groups said passage of the proposition would be a big setback for the state and have a major negative ripple effect around the country. [Reuters]

If the initiative passes on November 2, California will take a major step backward on supporting an industry that has generated $9 billion in investment and created half a million jobs in the state since implementation of the landmark 2006 climate change law … Proposition 23 would “undermine investors’ willingness to invest in the state’s renewable energy future” because it would take away the certainty needed to invest for the long term.

Who needs “Where’s Waldo”?: The oil in the Gulf is gone again. Or so say the federal officials tracking it. They say that aside from a few trouble spots, they’ve found “very little recoverable oil still in the water or on the bottom, barely even trace amounts of dispersant chemicals, and no samples of contaminated seafood in open water or in the marshes.” [New Orleans Times-Picayune]

Cash tactics: One thing you can see a lot of in the Gulf these days is cash. So far almost $1.5 billion has been handed out in damage claims, and, according to a story in today’s Washington Post, all that money is changing life in the Gulf more than the oil spill did:

The money has been welcomed as a lifeline. But it has made the coast feel like an open-air economic experiment: Some hardworking fishermen think it’s in their best interest to be idle, losing market share they will need next year. And those who haven’t been paid are looking for legal and illegal ways to work the system.

The Great White Way: Releas
e the ticker tape. New York has something to celebrate. Recently Mayor Michael Bloomberg himself painted the 1 millionth square foot of rooftop in the city with whitewash. [GreenBiz]

One good turn-off deserves another: Need a reminder to turn your office computer off at night? Watch the video on GOOD.