mends that “the President’s National Security Advisor, in conjunction with the Council on Environmental Quality, should establish an interagency working group to develop…a whole of government approach on regional climate change adaptation with a focus on promoting climate change resilience and maintaining regional stability” (p. vxii). The report emphasizes the need for information systems, including the translation of information into societal benefit metrics.
The analysis in this chapter clearly indicates that effective U.S. government efforts to facilitate adaptation to climate change in important regions will require knowledge about changing regional vulnerabilities as well as about climate trends. Developing fundamental knowledge about climate vulnerabilities is a major objective of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which leads federal efforts to develop scientific understanding of climate change and its implications for humanity. One of the five scientific objectives in the USGCRP’s 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.
The USGCRP, however, faces significant challenges in advancing this research area, as noted in a recent review of the strategic plan by the National Research Council (National Research Council, 2012a). These include expanding it within a declining budget and dealing with the limited capacity of many USGCRP agencies to integrate the social sciences with climate science. Historically, the USGCRP has devoted the vast majority of its resources to understanding climate processes and only a very small portion to understanding the “human dimensions” of climate change, including vulnerability and response to disruptive climate events. This weakness of the program has been identified repeatedly in program reviews by the National Research Council (e.g., National Research Council, 1992, 1999, 2009), but the challenge remains. It might be addressed in part by improved collaboration between the USGCRP and agencies in the intelligence and national security communities that have not previously been engaged in its efforts in the domains of vulnerability and adaptation but that need the knowledge that such efforts could provide.
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