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National Intelligence Council Seeks Input on Climate Security Scenarios

Logo_of_the_National_Intelligence_CouncilThe 6th Edition of the U.S. National Intelligence Council’s Global Trends report is in the works. The Global Trends 2035 report will examine the trends that are likely to shape the near- and long-term futures through 2035. Climate change is and will continue to be one of the key drivers shaping the future, and the National Intelligence Council wants to hear from you about what you think the future will look like. 

The NIC seeks a range of perspectives to help it identify and understand the key trends and choices likely to shape the future.  Based on this and other research, the NIC will provide the President, Administration, and public an assessment of the future strategic landscape in December 2016, just after the Presidential Election and before the Inauguration. In addition to meeting with more than 2,000 interlocutors in dozens of countries worldwide, the NIC is leveraging Tumblr and other social media platforms to diversify the perspectives it engages and to extend the Global Trends conversation to new communities.

You can submit a post on Tumblr in response to a general question, or respond directly to the NIC’s scenario post on climate and security –  Intersections: Hot & Cold. In that scenario, the NIC outlines likely trends and important questions to help guide policy actions and prepare the next President for the future (excerpts copied below).

For previous NIC Global Trends Reports see the Climate Security Resource Hub, Intelligence.

From the NIC’s scenario Intersections Hot & Cold:

In this scenario, a mix of more ominous climate forecasts, actual weather incidents, and disease outbreaks fuel increasingly sharp divisions among states and organizations over how to respond.  

In some cases, however, natural disasters and disease outbreaks foster efforts to increase international cooperation and development of coping mechanisms.

  • Climate effects vary widely over time and geography, impacting some regions much more significantly than others.
  • A few countries invest heavily in mitigation and coping technologies—building seawalls, desalination plants, and the like.  Most countries take few, if any, steps.
  • Some countries impose tariffs or boycotts on others for not doing enough to cope with climate change or for contributing disproportionately to it.
  • More ominous climate forecasts prompt investors and insurers to pull out of some projects and regions.
  • More frequent and extreme heat and rainfall events, increased cold temperatures, and changes in the intensity and number of tropical storms foment natural disasters that turn into lingering humanitarian disasters.
  • An epidemic of infectious disease—such as drug resistant tuberculosis—sparks a dramatic drop in global travel to large swaths of the world.  International travel may reduce as well because of major carbon taxes imposed on airline travel.
  • International humanitarian relief efforts are overwhelmed.
  • Some desperate countries consider geoengineering techniques that raise tensions and create unintended consequences.

Key principles in play:

What if actors perceive climate change as no longer a long-term problem?

Key choices in play:

How actively will states address climate change relative to other national security challenges, and how much will they be willing to cooperate?


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