Intelligence community should stress-test effects of climate change, National Academy says

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The intelligence community should conduct periodic stress tests to gauge how well countries, regions and systems will respond to climate events, the National Academy of Sciences says in a new report.

In the near term, only about a dozen countries would need to be monitored for potential climate events that could impact U.S. security, the report says. But if the intelligence community also opts to take into account foreign policy and humanitarian concerns, it would have to regularly stress-test more than 50 countries.

It should also stress-test the global food, public-health, supply-chain and disaster-relief systems, the report adds.

"It is prudent for security analysts to expect climate surprises in the coming decade...and for them to become progressively more serious and more frequent thereafter," the report says.

Certain factors make climate events more likely to lead to conflict and violence. They include the government's ability to respond to disasters, pre-existing social grievances and the ability of anti-government groups to take advantage of those grievances. The socioeconomic, racial, ethnic and religious profiles of the people most susceptible to climate events are also a critical factor, the report says.

Intelligence agencies might also benefit from joining forces with the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the government entity tasked with building a knowledge base about climate change. That program and the intelligence community both need to know how different parts of the world are vulnerable to climate change and may avoid duplication if they work together.

The report also says the intelligence community should support federal science agencies' research to improve the ability to quantify climate change's potential effects. The National Academy produced this report at the request of the intelligence community, it says.

For more:
- go to the report webpage on the National Academies website

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