strategic plan for 2012–2021 is to “[a]dvance understanding of the vulnerability and resilience of integrated human–natural systems and enhance the usability of scientific knowledge in supporting responses to global change” (U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2012:29). The intelligence community is an obvious potential beneficiary of this effort.
Conclusion 4.3: Many of the scientific needs of the intelligence community regarding climate change adaptation and vulnerability are congruent with those of the USGCRP and various individual federal agencies. Intelligence agencies and the USGCRP can benefit by joining forces in appropriate ways to advance needed knowledge of vulnerability and adaptation to climate change and of the potential of climate change to create social and political stresses.
A whole-of-government approach to understanding adaptation and vulnerability to climate change can advance the objectives of multiple agencies, avoid duplication of effort, and make better use of scarce resources. Such an interagency effort will help in anticipating the social and political consequences of climate events and in building the basis for a widely useful system for monitoring and analysis. This system would aid in anticipating security threats and could be employed by the U.S. intelligence community and other domestic and international entities to inform choices about responses to climate change.
Building Fundamental Understanding
Recommendations 3.1, 4.1, 5.1, and 6.1: The intelligence community should participate in a whole-of-government effort to inform choices about adapting to and reducing vulnerability to climate change.
Recommendation 3.1: It should, along with appropriate federal science agencies, support research to improve the ability to quantify the likelihoods of potentially disruptive climate events, that is, single extreme climate events, event clusters, and event sequences. A special focus should be on quantifying risks of events and event clusters that could disrupt vital supply chains, such as for food grains or fuels, and thus contribute to global system shocks.
This research should include efforts by climate scientists to improve fundamental understanding of the effects of climate change on the likelihoods of extreme climate events and also efforts to apply the methods of extreme value statistics to these problems, particularly the problem of estimating the likelihoods of clusters of extreme climate events that are