Report by Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security
- Think Tank: Climate Affects Security
By ARTHUR MAX
AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) � Climate change could be one of the greatest
national security challenges ever faced by U.S. policy makers, according
to a new joint study by two U.S. think tanks.
The report, to be released Monday, raises the threat of dramatic
population migrations, wars over water and resources, and a realignment
of power among nations.
During the last two decades, climate scientists have underestimated how
quickly the Earth is changing � perhaps to avoid being branded as
"alarmists," the study said. But policy planners should count on
climate-induced instability in critical parts of the world within 30
The report was compiled by a panel of security and climate specialists,
sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the
Center for a New American Security. The Associated Press received an
Climate change is likely to breed new conflicts, but it already is
magnifying existing problems, from the desertification of Darfur and
competition for water in the Middle East to the disruptive monsoons in
Asia which increase the pressure for land, the report said.
It examined three scenarios, ranging from the consequences of an expected
temperature increase of 2.5 degrees Fahrenheit by 2040, to the
catastrophic implications of a 10-degree rise by the end of the century.
At the very least, the report said, the U.S. can expect more population
migrations, both internally and from across its borders; a proliferation
of diseases; greater conflict in weak states, especially in Africa where
climates will change most drastically; and a restructuring in global
power in line with the accessibility of natural resources.
Left unchecked, "the collapse and chaos associated with extreme climate
change futures would destabilize virtually every aspect of modern life,"
said the report, comparing the potential outcome with the Cold War
doomsday scenarios of a nuclear holocaust.
"Climate change has the potential to be one of the greatest national
security challenges that this or any other generation of policy makers is
likely to confront," said the report.
Among its contributors were former CIA director James Woolsey, Nobel
laureate Thomas Schelling, National Academy of Sciences President Ralph
Cicerone, President Bill Clinton's former chief of staff John Podesta and
former Vice President Al Gore's security adviser Leon Fuerth.
The report listed 10 implications of climate change that policy makers
should consider, including rising tensions between rich and poor nations,
the backlash resulting from massive migrations, health problems partly
caused by water shortages and crop failures, and concerns over nuclear
proliferation as nations increasingly rely on nuclear energy.
The global balance of power will shift unpredictably as trade patterns
change, it said. China's importance in the climate equation will grow as
it increases emissions of greenhouse gases, and Russia's influence will
increase alongside its exports of natural gas, the report said.
Attention began to focus earlier this year on the strategic consequences
of climate change. But the latest report, more than 100 pages long, is
among the most detailed analyses published so far on security aspects.
Last April, a a panel of retired top-ranking military officers issued the
alarm that global warming was a "serious security threat" likely to
aggravate terrorism and world instability.
The Office of the National Intelligence Director said the following month
it has begun working on an assessment of the national security
implications of climate change.