GENEVA — War in the Persian Gulf would cause devastating environmental damage lasting as long as 100 years, King Hussein of Jordan warned today.
Addressing a U.N. world climate conference, the king said nearly 1 million soldiers now confront each other with advanced weapons.
"This confrontation is taking place literally on top of the single richest natural petroleum reservoir in the world (and) which accounts for over half the world's mineral energy resources," Hussein said.
"A war in the gulf would not only result in devastating human death and injury, tremendous economic loss and prolonged political confrontation between Orient and Occident, but also lead to an environmental catastrophe," he said.
Preliminary scientific calculations, the king said, point to "swift, severe and devastating" environmental damage if just half of Kuwait's oil reserves--about 50 billion barrels--went up in flames.
"Emissions of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide would surpass internationally accepted safety standards by factors of hundreds," he said, "and, without factoring in wind effects, would blacken the skies over a radius of at least (460 miles) from Kuwait."
That would mean all Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Emirates and waters of the gulf, as well as most of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and Iran, Hussein said.
Apart from the poisonous carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, he said, emission of carbon dioxide would increase 100 times higher than current total global emissions.
"Lingering in the atmosphere for around 100 years, this massive carbon dioxide emission would promote the greenhouse effect and contribute to global warming, climatic changes, lower global food production, and human and animal health deterioration," Hussein warned.
Hussein told the conference--discussing measures to reverse global warming--that he decided to make the trip to Geneva to warn of the environmental danger as part of his efforts for a peaceful solution to the Persian Gulf crisis.