July 2, 2008
Columbia Researchers Find Climate Change May Create National Security Risks
Sea level, water scarcity, refugees
might affect military and diplomacy efforts
The Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), part of Columbia University’s Earth Institute, has released research on climate change and its impact on U.S. national security. The findings of their research, titled “Assessment of Select Climate Change Impacts on U.S. National Security,” are included in the National Intelligence Council’s (NIC) new classified report that explores how climate change could threaten U.S. security in the next 20 years by causing political instability, mass movements of refugees, terrorism, and/or conflicts over water and other resources. While the NIC assessment itself is confidential, the CIESIN data is public.
Members of Congress were briefed on the report, “National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030,” on June 25 by NIC Chairman Thomas Fingar. The key findings represent the consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, including the Department of State, the Department of Energy and the Central Intelligence Agency.
On commission from NIC, CIESIN scientists ranked countries by three climate risks: sea-level rise, increased water scarcity, and an aggregate measure of vulnerability based on projected temperature change, compared with nations’ ability to adapt.