AND SOCIAL STRESS
Implications for Security Analysis
Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on
Social and Political Stresses
John D. Steinbruner, Paul C. Stern, and Jo L. Husbands, Editors
Board on Environmental Change and Society
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, NW Washington, DC 20001
NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This study was supported by the U.S. intelligence community. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-27856-0
International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-27856-2
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data are available from the Library of Congress.
Additional copies of this report are available for sale from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, NW, Keck 360, Washington, DC 20001; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313; http://www.nap.edu.
Copyright 2013 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Suggested Citation: National Research Council. (2013). Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis. Committee on Assessing the Impacts of Climate Change on Social and Political Stresses, J.D. Steinbruner, P.C. Stern, and J.L. Husbands, Eds. Board on Environmental Change and Society, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.
COMMITTEE ON ASSESSING THE IMPACTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ON SOCIAL AND POLITICAL STRESSES
JOHN D. STEINBRUNER (Chair), Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland; Director, Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland
OTIS B. BROWN, Director, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, North Carolina State University
ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR., Director, Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, University of Maryland; Professor, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
DAVID EASTERLING, Chief, Scientific Services Division, National Climatic Data Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Asheville, NC
KRISTIE L. EBI, Consulting Professor, Department of Medicine, Stanford University
THOMAS FINGAR, Oksenberg–Rohlen Distinguished Fellow and Senior Scholar, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Stanford University
LEON FUERTH, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Defense University; Research Professor of International Affairs, George Washington University; Founder and Director, Project on Forward Engagement
SHERRI GOODMAN, Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Corporate Secretary, CNA Analysis and Solutions, Alexandria, VA; Executive Director, CNA Military Advisory Board
ROBIN LEICHENKO, Associate Professor, Department of Geography, Rutgers University
ROBERT J. LEMPERT, Director, Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range Global Policy and the Future Human Condition, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA
MARC LEVY, Deputy Director, Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Earth Institute, Columbia University
DAVID LOBELL, Assistant Professor, Environmental Earth System Science, Stanford University; Center Fellow, Program on Food Security and the Environment, Stanford University
RICHARD STUART OLSON, Director of Extreme Event Research and Professor, Department of Politics and International Relations, Florida International University
RICHARD L. SMITH, Director, Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute, Research Triangle Park, NC
BOARD ON ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE AND SOCIETY
RICHARD H. MOSS (Chair), Senior Staff Scientist, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, MD
ARUN AGRAWAL, Research Associate Dean, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
JOSEPH ARVAI, Svare Chair in Applied Decision Research, University of Calgary
ANTHONY BEBBINGTON, Higgins Professor of Environment and Society, Director of the Graduate School of Geography, Clark University
WILLIAM CHANDLER, President, Transition Energy, Annapolis, MD
F. STUART CHAPIN, III, Professor, University of Alaska–Fairbanks
RUTH DEFRIES, Denning Professor of Sustainable Development, Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology, Columbia University
KRISTIE L. EBI, Consulting Professor, Department of Medicine, Stanford University
MARIA CARMEN LEMOS, Associate Professor, School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
DENNIS OJIMA, Senior Research Scientist, Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, Colorado State University
JONATHAN OVERPECK, Co-Director, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona
STEPHEN POLASKY, Professor of Ecological/Environmental Economics, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota
J. TIMMONS ROBERTS, Director, Center for Environmental Studies, Professor of Sociology and Environmental Studies, Center for Environmental Studies, Brown University
JAMES L. SWEENEY, Professor of Management Science and Engineering, Stanford University
GARY W. YOHE, Woodhouse/Sysco Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, Wesleyan University
MEREDITH A. LANE, Board Director
PAUL C. STERN, Senior Scholar
MARY ANN KASPER, Senior Program Assistant
Core features of the climate change situation are known with confidence. The greenhouse effect associated with the carbon dioxide molecule has been measured, as has the dwell time of that molecule and its concentration in the atmosphere. We also know that the rate at which carbon dioxide is currently being added to the atmosphere substantially exceeds the natural rate that prevailed before the rise of human societies. That means that a large and unprecedentedly rapid thermal impulse is being imparted to the earth’s ecology that will have to be balanced in some fashion. We know beyond reasonable doubt that the consequences will be extensive. We do not, however, know the timing, magnitude, or character of those consequences with sufficient precision to make predictions that meet scientific standards of confidence.
In principle the thermal impulse could be mitigated to a degree that would presumably preserve the current operating conditions of human societies, but the global effort required to do that is not being undertaken and cannot be presumed. As a practical matter, that means that significant burdens of adaptation will be imposed on all societies and that unusually severe climate perturbations will be encountered in some parts of the world over the next decade with increasing frequency and severity thereafter. There is a compelling reason to presume that specific failures of adaptation will occur with consequences more severe than any yet experienced, severe enough to compel more extensive international engagement than has yet been anticipated or organized.
This report has been prepared at the request of the U.S. intelligence community with these circumstances in mind. It summarizes what is cur-
rently known about the security effects of climate perturbations, admitting the inherent complexities and the very considerable uncertainties involved. But under the presumption that these effects will be of increasing significance, it outlines the monitoring activities that the intelligence community should be developing in support of improved anticipation, more effective prevention efforts, and more decisive emergency reaction when that becomes necessary.
The report was prepared by the members of the committee, all of whom helped shape the assessment presented and many of whom drafted elements of the text. The burden of constructing a coherent whole from individual contributions fell primarily to Paul Stern and Jo Husbands as the principal editors of the report. Alicia Jaramillo-Underwood and Mary Ann Kasper provided essential administrative support. National Research Council Fellow Andrei Israel and intern Zafar Imran provided research support and assisted in the preparation of parts of the text. I am personally grateful for all of these contributions.
John D. Steinbruner, Chair
Committee on Assessing the Impacts of
Climate Change on Social and Political Stresses
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Academies’ Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Marc F. Bellemare, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University; Andrew Brown, Jr., Innovation and Technology Office, Delphi Corporation, Troy, Michigan; Jared L. Cohon, Office of the President, Carnegie Mellon University; Geoff Dabelko, Environmental Change and Security Program, Woodrow Wilson Center; Delores M. Etter, Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, Southern Methodist University; John Gannon, BAE Systems, Arlington, Virginia; James R. Johnson, (retired) Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, Oak Park Heights, Minnesota; John E. Kutzbach, Center for Climatic Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Monty G. Marshall, Center for Global Policy, George Mason University and Center for Systemic Peace, Societal-Systems Research, Inc.; Dennis Ojima, Ecosystem Science and Sustainability, Warner College of Natural Resources, Colorado State University; Reto Ruedy, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies; and Philip A. Schrodt, Department of Political Science, Pennsylvania State University.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Warren M. Washington, Climate Change Research Section, Climate and Global Dynamics Division, National Center for Atmospheric Research, and Thomas J. Wilbanks, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Appointed by the National Academies, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.