Recommendation 6.3: The intelligence community should establish a system of periodic “stress testing” for countries, regions, and critical global systems regarding their ability to manage potentially disruptive climate events of concern. Stress tests would focus on potentially disruptive conjunctions of climate events and socioeconomic and political conditions.
The intelligence community presumably already uses an analogous process to consider the ability of foreign governments and societies to withstand various kinds of social and political stresses. This recommendation calls on the community to incorporate climate risks and the associated exposures and vulnerabilities into such exercises. The concept of a climate stress test provides a framework for integrating climate and social variables more systematically and consistently within national security analysis.
A stress test is an exercise to assess the likely effects on particular countries, populations, or systems of potentially disruptive climate events to which they have some likelihood of exposure in the coming decade. The recommended stress tests would involve analyzing the likely effects of an event at some projected time of occurrence in terms of key variables affecting susceptibility, coping, response, and recovery or the failure thereof, and the likely responses within regions or countries of interest in the event that these actions are perceived to be inadequate. The tests would draw on knowledge about the potential events and each of the other types of phenomena and would provide a major way of making knowledge about climate events, exposures, and vulnerabilities operational in security analysis.
Stress tests should consider two kinds of climate events of potential security concern: those that climate scientists can say with some confidence are increasingly likely to occur or become more severe, and those that seem increasingly likely to occur based on a fundamental understanding of climate dynamics but about which available evidence is not yet sufficient for climate scientists to attach confidence to such projections. Stress tests might also be triggered by assessments indicating that event likelihood, exposure, or susceptibility is increasing or that the capacity to respond adequately to certain kinds of climate events is declining in a region or country of concern.
The results of stress tests would inform decision makers about places that are at risk of becoming security concerns as a result of climate events and could be used by the U.S. government or international aid agencies to target high-risk places for efforts to reduce susceptibilities or to improve coping, response, and recovery capacities. The stress testing process would also help examine and refine hypotheses, such as those presented in Chapter