Thursday, January 17, 2013

NAS Report On Security Implications Of Climate & Social Stress

Jan 16: The  National Academy of Sciences (NAS), National Research Council (NRC) released a report entitled, Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis. The report indicates that "Core features of the climate change situation are known with confidence. The greenhouse effect associated with the carbon dioxide molecule has been measured, as has the dwell time of that molecule and its concentration in the atmosphere. We also know that the rate at which carbon dioxide is currently being added to the atmosphere substantially exceeds the natural rate that prevailed before the rise of human societies. . ."
    The report indicates that in principle the "thermal impulse could be mitigated to a degree that would presumably preserve the current operating conditions of human societies, but the global effort required to do that is not being undertaken and cannot be presumed. As a practical matter, that means that significant burdens of adaptation will be imposed on all societies and that unusually severe climate perturbations will be encountered in some parts of the world over the next decade with increasing frequency and severity thereafter.
    "There is a compelling reason to presume that specific failures of adaptation will occur with consequences more severe than any yet experienced, severe enough to compel more extensive international engagement than has yet been anticipated or organized. This report has been prepared at the request of the U.S. intelligence community with these circumstances in mind. It summarizes what is currently known about the security effects of climate perturbations, admitting the inherent complexities and the very considerable uncertainties involved. But under the presumption that these effects will be of increasing significance, it outlines the monitoring activities that the intelligence community should be developing in support of improved anticipation, more effective prevention efforts, and more decisive emergency reaction when that becomes necessary."
    Further the report indicates that, "The U.S. intelligence community is expected to monitor and provide warnings about a wide variety of security threats -- not only risks of international wars that might threaten U.S. interests or require a U.S. military response, but also risks of violent subnational conflicts in countries of security concern, threats to the stability of states and regions, and risks of major humanitarian disasters in key regions of the world. This intelligence mission requires the consideration of activities and processes anywhere in the world that might lead, directly or indirectly, to threats to U.S. national security.
    "In recent years, the accumulation of scientific evidence that the global climate is changing beyond the bounds of past experience has raised expectations of new stresses on societies around the world, creating possible security risks for the
United States. Those stresses include situations in which climate events (e.g., droughts, heat waves, or storms) have consequences that exceed the capacity of affected countries to cope and respond. The U.S. intelligence and security communities have recognized the need to evaluate possible connections between climate change and U.S. national security concerns, and to increase their ability to consider climate change when assessing possible threats to national security."
    Among other conclusions, the report indicates, "Security analysts should anticipate that over the next decade, droughts, heat waves, storms, or other climate events of surprising intensity or duration will stress communities, societies, governments, and the globally integrated systems that support human well-being. These surprises are likely to appear first as unusually severe extensions of familiar experience, and the consequences of at least some of these events are likely to be felt in places remote from the regions in which the events occur. They will include both single extreme events and simultaneous or sequential conjunctions of
events; both types will become progressively more serious and more frequent.
    "The conjunctions will likely include apparently unrelated climate events that occur closely in time, although perhaps widely separated geographically, such as simultaneous droughts in the southwestern United States and in Argentina; sequences or cascades of events that precipitate unexpected physical or biological consequences; and shocks to globally connected systems, such as food markets, strategic commodity supply chains, and public health systems. Security risks posed by these climate surprises are unlikely to be anticipated by looking only at climate trends and projections. . .
    ". . .the U.S. government should begin immediately to develop a systematic and enduring whole-of-government strategy for monitoring threats related to climate change. This monitoring should be globally applicable and should include climate phenomena, exposures and vulnerabilities, and factors that link aspects of climate and vulnerability to important security outcomes. Analysis based on this monitoring will require integrating quantitative indicators with traditional security and intelligence analytic methods; collecting new and finer-grained data while maintaining critical existing observational systems; analyzing new and existing data; and improving analytic techniques."
    Access the complete 253-page report (click here). [#Climate]
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