and national security. Multiple environmental monitoring activities and programs exist, organized by both public and private actors; they have diverse purposes and are focused on conditions and processes that range from local to global. Only a few of them are organized to inform security analysis, however, and it is difficult to know how useful the others might be for that purpose. Efforts to develop environmental observation priorities for security analysis should focus on identifying a small number of composite indices designed for specified purposes of analysis or early warning. The same can be said for social, economic, and political observations: Multiple monitoring programs exist, with diverse purposes, and only a few of these are organized to inform security analysis. Organized efforts at indicator development for climate–security analyses remain works in progress. Yet systematic efforts are needed. Progress will require additional work, which should be conducted through collaborations involving climate scientists, environmental scientists, social scientists, and security analysts.
The intelligence community should adopt a risk-based strategy for setting its monitoring priorities. Such a strategy seeks to prioritize the measurement and assessment of the most significant expected security risks that may arise from conjunctions of potentially disruptive climate events; exposures; susceptibilities; limitations of coping, response, and recovery; and the reactions to revealed limitations. A strategy that is risk-based considers the product of the likelihoods of events and the magnitude of their consequences. However, because the likelihoods of key events—and even in some instances the nature of the events—are not well known, monitoring under a risk-based strategy is not an exact science and must be expected to evolve as research and monitoring activities improve understanding of which conditions are most important to monitor and provide increasingly valid estimates of the probabilities and consequences of key events.
Threat Monitoring as a Long-Term Research Activity
Developing a monitoring system for climate-related security threats is a long-term enterprise. As noted above, a considerable amount of effort is already being devoted to monitoring climate events and trends; some aspects of food, water, and health security; risks of natural disasters related to climate change; and certain elements of disaster response capacity by a variety of governmental, nongovernmental, and international organizations for various purposes. Such existing monitoring systems, both open-source and commercial, should be periodically scanned for potential usefulness, but with critical attention paid to indicator selection, data reliability and validity, and cross-case and cross-national comparability.
As we have also noted, the connections between climate events and national security concerns are complex and contingent, with many plau-