disruptive climate events occurring in countries and regions of security importance to the United States or affecting global systems that meet critical needs in those places. Climate science provides considerable expertise for identifying, monitoring, and estimating the likelihood of single disruptive physical events occurring in particular places. Other kinds of science are needed in conjunction with climate science to define the monitoring needs for events that are more than just physical, such as climate-driven increases in food prices or outbreaks of infectious disease. These other types of science are also important for defining methods for monitoring and anticipating clusters and sequences of potentially disruptive events that might affect particular regions of interest and for considering the potential for climate events to generate shocks to integrated global systems of potential national security importance.
To monitor exposures to potentially disruptive events requires an understanding of where events are likely to occur as well as of who and what is or will be present in those places. Climate science can tell us what to monitor to foresee where potentially disruptive events may occur; social sciences that focus on population dynamics, economic development, and migration can tell us what to monitor to foresee what will be in harm’s way. Several of the social, economic, and political conditions that contribute to exposure can be projected with some confidence based on available data; of those that cannot, many can be monitored at the country level and below.
Monitoring the degree and nature of susceptibility to harm from climate events should focus especially on places and systems of security concern. It needs to consider different susceptibilities to different kinds of events as well as differences among populations separated by place or differentiated by class, race, ethnicity, religion, or other social cleavages.
Monitoring the ability to cope with, respond to, and recover from shocks requires measures or assessments of limitations in the capacity of affected people, communities, or sectors to cope on an informal basis as well as limitations to the ability or willingness of governments and other formal assistance organizations to respond after an event occurs. It also requires measures or assessments of the likelihood that responses to disruptive events, particularly by responsible governing authorities, will be (or be perceived to be) inadequate. Past performance in natural disasters may provide useful indicators for most of these factors; indicators of corruption or favoritism in the delivery of public services are particularly relevant for the last. Social science offers a variety of tools and methods for monitoring aspects of susceptibility, coping, response, and recovery. Normal techniques of intelligence analysis are also useful for assessing some of these components of vulnerability, such as the willingness of governments to respond on behalf of only particular segments of their populations in the event of need.