concern. Policy responses intended to reduce one nation’s vulnerability to climate events may sometimes increase the vulnerability of other countries. These kinds of climate-security connections could prove highly significant and deserve serious attention in security analysis, both by monitoring the development of such policies and by analyzing their implications for stresses in other places both when they are put in place and when a stressful climate event subsequently occurs.
Focus on Disruptions Outside the United States
Our study focuses largely on developments and vulnerabilities external to the United States, while recognizing that climate change is a global phenomenon and that events occurring within the United States can be disruptive in other countries, and vice versa. We examine some of these connections but not others. For example, a drought in U.S. agricultural areas that led to a spike in the global price of corn or wheat could lead indirectly to a humanitarian or political crisis elsewhere that could become a national security issue for the United States. Our study does examine such scenarios, but it does not examine the social and political consequences such events might have within the United States, nor does it examine the social and political consequences within the United States of climate events occurring elsewhere that disrupt global systems such as public health or the supply systems for critical commodities.
We emphasize, however, that such a separation between domestic and foreign impacts reflects only the division of missions among federal agencies, not the characteristics of climate phenomena or their consequences. In particular, observations, analyses, and fundamental knowledge that need to be developed in order to understand changing vulnerabilities to harm from climate events, which can offer valuable information to the U.S. intelligence community, are equally important for informing other federal agencies and decision makers below the national level, particularly including agencies responsible for domestic security and disaster management. They are also critical for informing international organizations. In Chapter 6 we discuss the needs for monitoring and analysis within a whole-of-government approach to developing an understanding of the effects of the changing risks of climate events.
Focus on the Next Decade
Given the risks and difficulties of projecting political, economic, and technical developments more than a decade into the future and the fact that countries are—and should be—starting now to contemplate steps to reduce vulnerability to climate change effects, this study focuses primarily on the