mate events on social and political systems. Much remains to be done, however, to advance this knowledge and make it operational for assessing the risks of climate change to social and political systems in particular places.

Conclusion 5.1: It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events—including single events, conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence in particular locations, and events affecting globally integrated systems that provide for human well-being—will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global systems to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response. It is also prudent to expect that such consequences will become more common further in the future.

Conclusion 5.2: The links between climate events and security outcomes are complex, contingent, and not understood nearly well enough to allow for prediction. However, the key linkages, as with societal disruptions, seem prominently to involve (a) exposures to potentially disruptive events directly or through globally integrated systems affecting human well-being and (b) vulnerabilities (i.e., susceptibility to harm and the effectiveness of coping, response, and recovery efforts). In addition, security outcomes depend on the reactions of social and political systems to actual or perceived inadequacies of response.

Available knowledge of climate–security connections that feature societal vulnerabilities indicates that security analysis needs to develop more nuanced understanding of the conditions—largely, social, political, and economic conditions—under which particular climate events are and are not likely to lead to particular kinds of social and political stresses and under which such events and responses to them are and are not likely to lead to significant security threats.

The empirical knowledge base on the connections between extreme events and political instability or violence also suggests some hypotheses that are worthy of further examination. For example, available knowledge is consistent with a model in which the link of climate events to the potential for significant violence, conflict, or breakdown depends on these factors:

  • the nature, breadth or concentration, and depth of pre-existing social and political grievances and stresses;
  • the nature, breadth or concentration, and depth of the immediate impacts of the climate event;


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