and the affected countries as they consider the security implications of climate events. Such a monitoring system with open sharing of data would thus provide a global public good. The U.S. government would also benefit from data-gathering efforts in and by other countries.
Open, international scientific collaborations are also desirable on scientific grounds. The development of compatible concepts, databases, and indicators across countries helps speed scientific progress and improves the ability to learn from experiences in other countries.
International collaboration is likely to be necessary to achieve acceptance of higher-resolution monitoring at critically vulnerable locations, particularly if that monitoring requires an on-site component. Such a system would inherently include elements that could be seen as intrusive in the countries being monitored. Thus its global acceptability would depend on justifying its purposes and legitimizing its rules. In particular, such a system would have to be credibly directed to broad common interests rather than intended to provide some competitive national advantage that might be perceived as hostile. If the capacity of a society to manage internal stress is to be subjected to detailed scrutiny, the motivating purposes must be accepted as constructive, access to the data must be equitable, and the benefits derived must be mutual. Given the historical legacy of security concerns, those conditions will not be easy to achieve, but they will certainly be essential.
As a practical matter these conditions would have to be established though a process of evolution as the details of monitoring arrangements are worked out. A mature system would almost certainly have to be achieved in a series of incremental steps. Nonetheless, transparency would be a central principle from the outset. To the maximum extent possible, both the methods used and the data resulting from a monitoring system must be open to global scrutiny as the best and, ultimately, the only way to establish legitimacy and to assure accuracy. That does not mean that access would be completely unrestricted. It means rather that the rules of access would be based on criteria that are broadly accepted at the outset, universally accepted in a mature system, and subject to collective reconsideration over time.
Of course, U.S. government agencies will continue to need to gather some kinds of information that will not be openly shared, and there will be questions about which data- and information-gathering methods can and should be openly shared. There will also be suspicion of the involvement of U.S. intelligence agencies in international information-gathering efforts related to security. Such issues will need to be addressed in ways that we have not had the opportunity to consider in this study. Nevertheless, the benefits of open, international data development and sharing should be taken seriously as work on monitoring systems proceeds.