Climate change is accelerating, and it will place unparalleled strains on American military and intelligence agencies in coming years by causing ever more disruptive events around the globe, the nation’s top scientific research group said in a report issued Friday.
The group, the National Research Council, says in a study commissioned by the C.I.A. and other intelligence agencies that clusters of apparently unrelated events exacerbated by a warming climate will create more frequent but unpredictable crises in water supplies, food markets, energy supply chains and public health systems.
The study was released 10 days late: its authors had been scheduled to brief intelligence officials on their findings the day Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast, but the federal government was shut down because of the storm.
Climate-driven crises could lead to internal instability or international conflict and might force the United States to provide humanitarian assistance or, in some cases, military force to protect vital energy, economic or other interests, the study said.
“It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events — including single events, conjunctions of events occurring simultaneously or in sequence in particular locations, and events affecting globally integrated systems that provide for human well-being — will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global system to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response,” the report states.
In other words, states will fail, large populations subjected to famine, flood or disease will migrate across international borders, and national and international agencies will not have the resources to cope.I note the use of the future tense in the last paragraph, when the present tense would describe the situation equally well.