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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…)
As we look toward a new Administration in the United States, and the path forward on addressing the myriad threats in a rapidly-changing geostrategic landscape, it’s worth having a clearer understanding of how the U.S. national security community has come to its current level of concern about climate change. This concern didn’t happen overnight, or under a single administration. Rather, it’s the culmination of decades of assessments stretching back to the end of the Cold War. (more…)
The 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. (more…)
Interview With Major General (Ret) Rich Engel On Climate Security & the National Intelligence Council
The Cipher Brief recently sat down with Major General (Ret) Richard Engel, Director of the Technology and Strategic Futures Program at the National Intelligence Council (NIC) to talk climate change and national security. In the interview Engel shed light on the development of the 2008 National Intelligence Assessment (NIA) on climate change and its impacts on U.S. National Security, and the evolution of how the intelligence community evaluates these risks since that assessment. The interview also explores the immediate impacts of climate change on US national security and global stability, the role of the intelligence community in mitigating the risks, opportunities for international cooperation, and whether or not we are too late on some of the risks. The full interview is worth a read. (more…)
Dr. Gregory F. Treverton, the newly-appointed chairman of the US National Intelligence Council (NIC), sat down with the Atlantic Council on December 1 for his first on-the-record discussion on adapting intelligence for national security efforts. In context of a rich discussion on shifting risks and priorities, the conversation turned to the security implications of climate change. Below is a transcription of a question Dr. Treverton was asked on the subject, and his response. For more on the US intelligence community’s products on climate change and security, see the intelligence section of our Climate Security Resource Hub. (more…)
The 2014 National Intelligence Strategy (NIS) was released this week. This is the third NIS, a strategy document developed approximately every four years. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, notes in the forward that “we are facing the most diverse set of threats I’ve seen in my 50 years in the intelligence business…We face significant changes in the domestic and global environment and must be ready to meet 21st century challenges and to recognize emerging opportunities.” Indeed, climate change is a unique “threat multiplier” that is likely to disrupt the security environment in complex ways, both predictably and otherwise. (more…)
The year 2012 was the warmest year on record for the United States. It was also a year of extraordinary natural disasters in both the U.S., and abroad. Hurricane Sandy, for example, was the eleventh billion-dollar weather-related disaster for the U.S. in 2012, accompanied by unprecedented heat waves, droughts and tornadoes. Tropical storms and flooding in East Asia, unexpected heavy rains and flooding in Somalia, Nigeria, and the Republic of Congo, 19 straight months of punishing drought in northern Brazil, are just a few examples of a very volatile year in terms of extreme weather events globally. The security implications of these, and other similar events, will certainly be a subject of study in the years to come, as will be their connections to climate change. (more…)