• the socioeconomic, geographic, racial, ethnic, and religious profiles of the most exposed groups or subpopulations, as well as their susceptibilities and coping capacities;
  • the ability and willingness of the incumbent government and its internal and external supporters to devise, publicize, and implement effective, transparent, and equitable short-term emergency response and then longer-term recovery plans;
  • the extent to which emergent or established anti-government or anti-regime movements or groups are able to take strategic or tactical advantage of grievances or problems related to responses to the event;
  • the type, breadth, and depth of legitimacy and support for authorities, the government, the regime, or the nation–state; and
  • the coercive and repressive capacities of the government and its willingness and ability to engage and carry out repression.


The intelligence and national security communities are not the only parts of the U.S. government that need improved understanding of vulnerabilities to climate change to achieve their goals, and the U.S. government is not the only actor that has this need. Such improved understanding is among the objectives of the many federal scientific agencies concerned with climate change and will be valuable to the various federal, state, local, private-sector, and international organizations concerned with improving adaptation to climate change, reducing potential damage from climate events, and exploiting potential opportunities related to climate change. These shared needs for knowledge suggest that knowledge development is best pursued as a cooperative activity involving many organizations.

A recent report of the Defense Science Board (Defense Science Board, 2011) emphasized the need for federal interagency cooperation in dealing with issues of adaptation to climate change. It called for “a structure and process for coordination to more effectively leverage the efforts to address global problems” and “a whole of government approach on regional climate change adaptation with a focus on promoting climate change resilience and maintaining regional stability.” We agree with the need for a whole-of-government approach and note that the effort should include improved knowledge and monitoring of changing vulnerabilities as well as of climate trends.

Within the U.S. government, the entity charged with developing fundamental knowledge about climate vulnerabilities is the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). One of the five scientific objectives in its

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