next decade. In this way the study differs from most past analyses of climate change and its security implications. We consider policy and intelligence-gathering actions related to events that might occur in the coming decade as well as activities that must begin within a decade in order to have adequate intelligence capacity for anticipating climate–security interactions at later times. An adequate intelligence capacity in this area must include an improved ability to anticipate changes in climate-related security risks beyond the decadal time horizon, for at least two reasons: The processes of climate change already in motion will most likely have their more serious security impacts beyond the next decade, and actions taken within the decade can reduce those longer-term risks.

Implications for Security Analysis

Policy makers can pay attention to only so many warnings. The purpose of this report is to help intelligence analysts determine where to focus and how much attention to pay to the less likely, but potentially significant, developments for security that might result from climate change. This study does not offer recommendations on where or when the U.S. government should act on risks related to climate change. That is a policy choice that will depend on much more than the risks of climate events—or even the risks of humanitarian crises, political instability, violent conflict, or other extreme social or political events that may be influenced by climate change. Rather, the focus of this study is on offering ways to better assess such risks and to anticipate changes in them.


The next chapter presents the conceptual framework for the project, laying out the key concepts and relationships that provide the structure for analysis. It considers risks as resulting from climate events; exposures of people, places, or important life-supporting systems to these events; vulnerability to these events (susceptibility to harm and the likelihood of effective coping, response, and recovery); and social and political disruptions that may result from responses to these events that are or are perceived to be inadequate. That framework is used in the next three chapters to examine current knowledge about the potential links between climate change and political and social stresses with implications for U.S. national security. Chapter 3 focuses on climate events. It considers what kinds of potentially disruptive climate events can be expected, especially in the coming decade, as a result of climate change. Chapter 4 examines changing exposure and vulnerability to potentially disruptive climate events and takes up the question of what kinds of connections exist between climate events and vulner-

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