new kinds of information or synthesize existing information in new ways in order to assess climate-related security risks? Will they need to develop new ways to anticipate and assess security risks to address those that are affected by climate change?

This report is based on current understanding of the state of the climate system as assessed internationally by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (e.g., Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007, 2012), as assessed nationally in reports by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and by the NRC within the suite of congressionally mandated studies known as America’s Climate Choices (National Research Council, 2010a, 2010b, 2010c, 2010d) and in subsequent relevant reports (e.g., National Research Council, 2011a, 2011b, 2012b), and in other relevant literature reviewed by the committee. The committee’s purpose was not to readdress the science of climate change or to review past assessments, but to build on this knowledge to address the issues in the statement of task.


Over the past decade, several groups within the U.S. security policy community, both within and outside government, have given increasing attention to the potential risks that climate change could pose for national as well as international security. In 2008, for example, the intelligence community produced The National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030 (Fingar, 2008).1 Climate issues were included in the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) (U.S. Department of Defense, 2010) as well as in the 2010 edition of the National Security Strategy (White House, 2010).

In addition to the attention from the U.S. government, beginning in the mid-2000s many foreign and security policy think tanks and research organizations produced reports on the potential connections between climate change and security. The reports were generally the work of groups of security experts, informed by consultations with climate scientists and regional and country specialists. Some reports also examined evidence from the social sciences. The groups drew upon this collective expertise to project a range of scenarios for potential impacts, usually over a 20-year period,


1 The assessment itself is still classified, but the methodology and principal conclusions of the report were presented in the statement for the record prepared in conjunction with testimony to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. The National Intelligence Council also sponsored an extensive set of unclassified reports and conferences on the potential effects of climate change on key regions and countries; the materials may be found at (accessed September 27, 2012).

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