The future of the CIA's Center on Climate Change and National Security is in jeopardy, with the influx of conservative lawmakers in Washington and pressure to reduce intelligence budgets. That's one of the findings of a three-month investigation conducted by a team of reporters at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
The investigation found that the nation's security establishment is not adequately prepared for many of the environmental changes that are coming faster than predicted. This is despite the fact that the Defense Department has called climate change a potential "accelerant of instability."
The graduate student team has begun publication of its findings on the national security implications of climate change with a series of print, video and interactive stories at the link below. The first stories in the "Global Warning" series ran last week in The Washington Post and on the McClatchy Newspapers' Washington website.
Josh Meyer, who teaches in Medill's Washington Program, said the reportng covers an issue that "is fast becoming one of the most serious national security concerns."
Among the project's findings:
- The government lacks critical information about where and when climate changes will happen and what effect they will have on the U.S. military, intelligence and national security communities.
- In a major strategy review last year, the Pentagon acknowledged the challenge that climate change poses to its operations, including a dramatically increased need for intervention in future humanitarian crises. While military branches have begun global assessments of their vulnerabilities, many security experts say the work lacks senior level support in Congress and the administration and that military service preparations are not keeping up with environmental changes.
- Work by the CIA and environmental scientists during the Clinton administration was largely ignored in the years of George Bush's presidency. Although the CIA is now spearheading intelligence assessments to determine where climate change could affect global stability, that work may be in jeopardy as Republicans skeptical of climate control take control of key congressional committees.
- The nation's satellite system, which provides the lifeblood of climate information, is in disrepair after years of inadequate funding and, in the past two decades, the intelligence community has struggled both internally and politically to respond to the challenges posed by climate change.
- At home, critical infrastructure along the Gulf of Mexico is vulnerable to the stronger storms and more frequent flooding that are predicted due to climate change.
Stories in the series also explore how the U.S. defense and intelligence community is preparing for a melting Arctic, shifting disease vectors, altered glacial melt in the Andes and rising seas in South Asia.
Source: Sustainable Business