consequences of climate change because disruptive climate events will typically be perceived and responded to as natural disasters. The recommended interagency process can help bring these communities of experts together, as they tend to associate with different groups of agencies.

Improving Monitoring and Analysis

Conclusion 6.1: Monitoring to anticipate national security risks related to climate events should focus on five key types of phenomena:


  1. Climate events and related biophysical environment phenomena;
  2. The exposures of human populations and the systems that provide food, water, health, and other essentials to life and well-being;
  3. The susceptibilities of people, assets, and resources to harm from climate events;
  4. The ability to cope with, respond to, and recover from shocks; and
  5. The potential for outcomes of inadequate coping, response, and recovery to rise to the level of concern for U.S. national security.

Given that security threats arise from combinations of all of these phenomena, indicators and monitoring systems should be developed to follow them at various levels from local to national.

Conclusion 6.2: Developing an adequate system for monitoring the conditions that can link climate events to national security concerns will require maintaining critical existing observational systems, programs, and databases; the collection of new data; the analysis of new and existing data; and the improvement of analytic systems, leading to better understanding of the linkages over time and to improved indicators of key variables where quantitative indicators are appropriate and feasible to produce. It will typically require finer-grained data than are currently available. It will also require improved techniques for integrating quantitative and qualitative information.

We emphasize that improved understanding and monitoring of the various elements of climate vulnerability—a key link between climate events and security concerns—is an objective that the intelligence community shares with the USGCRP and many other institutions at federal, state, local, and international levels. To address the challenges of monitoring, which include both new and enduring methodological problems, the intelligence community needs to draw on knowledge from the academic research community, as some current efforts are already doing.

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