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Climate Risks in the 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community

Dan_Coats_official_DNI_portrait

Official portrait of DNI Director Dan Coats, 10 March 2017

For the third time during the current U.S. Administration, climate change was included in the annual 2019 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community released by the Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats. Consistent with threat assessments and memoranda from the National Intelligence Council and CIA during both the GW Bush and Obama Administrations, the assessment raises concerns about the national security implications of a changing climate. This demonstrates a strong bipartisan consensus regarding the security risks of climate change.

Reiterating a point we make each year when the Worldwide Threat Assessment is released, given that climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” – multiplying existing threats in the security environment – one cannot contain the threat to the specific sections described below. For example, climate change is likely to have a significant impact on health security, as included in this year’s assessment, as well as nuclear proliferation, which is covered separately in the threat assessment. It may contribute to the conditions that allow for terrorism, or international organized crime, to thrive. It may also make mass displacements of people, instability, conflict, and atrocities, more likely. Climate change influences the entire geostrategic landscape. In that sense, one could walk through the entire threat assessment report and identify ways in which climate change will intersect with nearly every risk identified, and in most cases, make them worse. (more…)

Intelligence Director on climate change as “underlying meta-driver of unpredictable instability”

Tarbela_Dam_Pakistan_during_the_2010_floods

Tarbela Dam Pakistan during the 2010 floods. Photo by Paul Duncan, U.S. Marine Corps

Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, recently addressed the 2016 INSA & AFCEA Intelligence & National Security Summit. He spoke specifically to national intelligence during a time of transition between administrations, and how looking out at potential future failures and collapses over the coming decades, climate change will be “an underlying meta-driver of unpredictable instability.”

Clapper’s remarks covered the existing security landscape that will continue through to the next administration, regardless of who becomes Commander In Chief. He calls it “a world of unpredictable instability.” From his remarks: (more…)

Climate Change in the 2015 World Wide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community

James_R._Clapper_official_portraitOn February 26, 2015, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented the World Wide Threat Assessment for the US Intelligence Community Statement for the Record to the Senate Armed Services Committee. A significant portion of the assessment highlighted risks associated with the impact of climate-exacerbated extreme weather events on global food and water security (see below for those excerpts). The assessment also looked at how climate change is a factor in increasing human security risks related to infectious diseases. (more…)

Climate Change and Water in the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community”

Digging_irrigation_channels,_Palmyra,_SyriaIn his “Statement for the Record” regarding the “Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community,” released yesterday, the Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper had a lot of ground to cover, ranging from the nuclear threat posed by Iran to the threat posed by cyber-saboteurs. And within that range of global and regional threats, those emanating from, or exacerbated by, a changing climate received prominent attention. (more…)

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