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Chronology of Military and Intelligence Concerns About Climate Change

Climate and Security Week in Review Global MapAs 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…)

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.  (more…)

Interview With Major General (Ret) Rich Engel On Climate Security & the National Intelligence Council

Australian Military personnel help Tsunami victims, Banda Aceh, Sumatra. Photo by Benjamin D. Glass

Australian Military personnel help Tsunami victims, Banda Aceh, Sumatra. Photo by Benjamin D. Glass

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…)

Chairman US National Intelligence Council: Factoring In Climate Security

Logo_of_the_National_Intelligence_CouncilDr. 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…)

Climate in the U.S. 2014 National Intelligence Strategy

IC_wheel_Intelligence CommunityThe 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…)

Notable Climate and Security Publications of 2012

Temperature_globalThe 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…)

More on the National Intelligence Council and Climate Change: Global Trends 2030

Pakistan Disaster RecoveryMichael Werz and Arpita Bhattacharyya at the Center for American Progress have posted a good summary of the climate change sections of the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) recently-released report, “Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds” (you can find the full report here). Namely, they highlight findings from the study which demonstrate that 1) “Food, water, and energy demands will increase as populations rise and climate change will further constrain these resources…” and 2) “changes in resource availability and weather patterns will also likely influence migration…” They also mention some recent climate-security studies that are consistent with the NIC report, including one by us from last March:

The 2030 report adds to the growing body of research on climate change and security factors. Tom Friedman highlighted the role of climate change in the Arab Spring earlier this year, highlighting an important analysis by the Center for Climate & Security on climate change’s impact on the situation in Syria. The Center for American Progress has released three major reports on how climate change, migration, and security factors will play out in different regions of the world.

The NIC report also draws attention to potential “black swan” events, such as pandemics, accelerated climate change, and solar storms. In other words, known unknowns…