Climate change will impact US national security
June 25, 2008

WASHINGTON (AFP) — Climate change will have sweeping consequences for US national security by 2030 aggravating global poverty and destabilizing fragile countries, a US intelligence report said Wednesday.

"We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for US national security interests over the next 20 years," Thomas Fingar, deputy director of National Intelligence for Analysis, told US lawmakers.

Fingar testified to the House of Representatives that in some countries, global warming and its impacts could affect stability and spark regional conflicts such as over access to water as it grows more scarce.

He presented the findings of 16 US intelligence agencies gathered in a National Intelligence Assessment, based primarily on research done by the United Nations inter-governmental panel on climate change.

Global warming will exacerbate existing problems such as poverty and social tension, damage the environment and weaken political institutions, while triggering increased economic emigration, the report warns.

Some fifty million more people around the globe could face famine in the next dozen years, it said.

"The most significant impact for the United States will be indirect, and result from climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect US national security interests," Fingar said.

Africa is one of the regions most at risk, and in some countries harvests could be cut by up to 50 percent because of a lack of rain.

And in some parts of Asia vulnerable to drought and floods, rice and grain harvests could drop by some 10 percent, the report warned.

Heavy tropical rains in some parts of Asia and glaciers melting under mounting temperatures might provide more water, but growing demand and a burgeoning population could in fact lead to a dwindling supply for some 120 million to 1.2 billion people.

Worldwide meteorological changes and the policies developed to combat them also could affect the smooth functioning of the international system of trade and market access to essential raw materials such as oil and gas, "with significant geopolitical consequences," Fingar said.

Fingar said climate change alone was unlikely to trigger state failure in any country by 2030, but that its impact would worsen existing problems.

Latin America is likely to see more rain between now and 2030 but some seven to 77 million people could still face shortages.

As for the Middle East, weather predictions are difficult because of a lack of recent research, added the report, which said Europe would also get warmer.

North America however will probably be less affected by climate change especially in its mid regions, and harvests could rise by five to 20 percent.

"The United States depends on a smooth-functioning international system ensuring the flow of trade and market access to critical raw materials such as oil and gas, and security for its allies and partners," Fingar said.

"Climate change and climate change policies could affect all of these."

The report however does not mention any heightened risk of a terror attack as a consequence of climate change.

Last year, a similar study by the Center for Naval Analyses written by retired generals made the direct link between the destabilization of some countries and increased extremism.

Fingar said the team used "a broad definition for national security," considering the impact of the effects of climate change on the United States, a US economic partner or a US ally.

"We also focused on the potential for humanitarian disaster, such that the response would consume US resources," Fingar said.

"We then considered if the result would degrade or enhance one of the elements of national power," which he defined as geopolitical, military, economic or social cohesion.

Original Text