Within this spectrum of potential impacts, Campbell-Lendrum emphasizes “routine” health threats such as diarrhea, malnutrition, and malaria that are known to be climate sensitive, and the value of basic public health interventions (e.g., providing clean water and sanitation services, improving hygiene) as a means to reduce overall disease rates and to moderate the potential effects of climate change. This is the position taken by WHO, which has evolved from assessing the health risks associated with climate change to an increasingly operational role in addressing these risks; Campbell-Lendrum discusses the organization’s primary objectives in this area, which include raising public and political awareness of climate change, promoting health through climate change mitigation, and strengthening health systems to manage the additional burden imposed by climate change.

Due in large part to its predicted far-reaching effects on health, climate change is viewed as a potentially powerful agent of geopolitical upheaval. At its summit in March 2008, a paper presented to the European Union included a grim catalog of threats to international security posed by climate change: conflicts over water, energy, and other increasingly scarce resources; loss of infrastructure and territory; border disputes; environmentally-induced migration; and political tension at all levels of governance (European Commission, 2008). These themes were taken up by Major General Richard Engel (U.S. Air Force, retired), National Intelligence Council (NIC) deputy national intelligence officer for science and technology, in his workshop presentation, which described efforts under way to conduct a National Intelligence Assessment (NIA) concerning the challenges posed to national security by global climate change over the next two decades. Although NIAs inform decision making at the highest levels of the U.S. government, Engel noted that the NIC intends to prepare this assessment as an unclassified document—a goal that he characterized as “increasingly challenging” to meet. The classified NIA entitled National Security Implications of Global Climate Change Through 2030 was delivered to Congressional requestors in mid-June 2008.

The NIC has chosen to evaluate the potential impacts of climate change on the four classical elements that comprise national power: geopolitical power, military power, economic power, and social cohesion. To date, the NIC has received considerable nongovernmental expert opinion on this issue from a variety of sources including the Joint Global Change Research Institute, a partnership between the University of Maryland and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories; the U.S. Climate Change Research Program, an interagency group within the U.S. government; the Center for Naval Analysis; the Center for International Earth Science Information Network at Columbia University; Arizona State University; the RAND Corporation; the Global Business Network; and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Engel emphasized that he had crafted his remarks from these “outside views” as they have been received—but not fully evaluated—by



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement