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Climate change may challenge national security, classified report warns
Date:6/25/2008

The National Intelligence Council (NIC) has completed a new classified assessment that explores how climate change could threaten U.S. security in the next 20 years by causing political instability, mass movements of refugees, terrorism, or conflicts over water and other resources in specific countries. The House Intelligence Committee is scheduled to be briefed Wednesday, June 25, on the main findings.

While the assessment itself is confidential, some analyses used as raw material will be open, including a series of studies done by Columbia University's Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN). On commission from NIC, CIESIN ranked countries by looking at three climate risks: sea-level rise, increased water scarcity, and an aggregate measure of vulnerability based on projected temperature change, compared with nations' ability to adapt.

"We can pinpoint areas of high projected climate change that are also in historically unstable regions. This suggests that climate change is likely to heighten political risks,' said CIESIN deputy director Marc Levy, a coauthor of the CIESIN studies. Many countries with high exposure to climate change have low levels of historical instability, he said; for instance, U.S. allies like the Netherlands are exposed to perils such as sea-level rise, but have large economies and strong governments, and so are not deemed high risks. However, others suffer both high vulnerability to projected temperature changes, and low levels of adaptive capacity based on the strength of state institutions and their histories of instability and conflict. These tend to cluster in economically depressed southern regions. The more dangerous nations on the CIESIN listwhich may or may not match the NIC list--include South Africa, Nepal, Morocco, Bangladesh, Tunisia, Paraguay, Yemen, Sudan and Cte d'Ivoire.

The greatest number of people exposed to sea-level rise are in China, the Philippine
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Contact: Kevin Krajick
kkrajick@ei.columbia.edu
212-854-9729
The Earth Institute at Columbia University
Source:Eurekalert

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