sible combinations of climatic events with social, economic, and political conditions that might create risks to U.S. national security. These risks are unlikely to be foreseen by looking only at climate trends and projections or by looking only at political and social trends and projections. To anticipate the risks, analysis needs to integrate three kinds and sources of knowledge: (1) knowledge of political and socioeconomic conditions in countries of interest, (2) knowledge from climate science about the potential exposure of these countries to climate events, and (3) knowledge from social science about the susceptibility of these countries to be harmed by those events and the likelihood of effective coping, response, and recovery at local to national levels. These sources of knowledge come from different communities of experts, which will need to communicate with each other. Making this happen will take time and continued effort.
Indicators based on monitoring efforts can be used even while research and development on them is in an early phase if they are interpreted cautiously as one source of insight among many, including qualitative insight derived from on-the-ground information and experience. Open-source monitoring efforts can help reduce the risks of climate change by helping national and international decision makers anticipate potentially disruptive events and reduce vulnerabilities. Monitoring efforts by the U.S. intelligence community may also have such broader benefits.
Efforts to develop quantitative indicators need to be improved over time to maximize their usefulness for security analysis, and achieving this goal will require a long-term effort with a significant research component. As such indicators are developed and validated, it will become appropriate to assign more weight to the information and predictions they provide. The intelligence community should consider the development of the needed indicators to be a long-range research activity.
A research investment in indicator development is likely to increase in value over time, both because monitoring systems are likely to improve through continued efforts and because potentially disruptive climate events are expected to increase in frequency and intensity in years and decades to come. It is therefore important to begin now to build and test the capability to monitor and anticipate climate-driven security threats. The potential for disruptive events, the elements of vulnerability, and security conditions will all need continued monitoring because they are all changing and can affect each other. For example, responses to recent climate events or other disasters can affect both the future capacity to respond and security-related conditions, such as public support for governments. The research effort needs to integrate monitoring across variable types and methods and should focus on validating indicators, monitoring the appropriate spatial and temporal resolution, and improving analytical techniques, particularly to make effective use of rapidly increasing volumes of data.