Global Warming as Security Issue: Intelligence Report Sees Threat

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Roger Coppock

Jun 26, 2008, 11:02:42 AM6/26/08
Global Warming as Security Issue:
Intelligence Report Sees Threat
June 26, 2008; Page A10 of the Wall Street Journal
WASHINGTON -- One of the biggest conundrums facing lawmakers is that
solutions to global warming often hurt another of their top
priorities: ensuring the availability of affordable energy, for

But on Wednesday, as the U.S. intelligence agencies weighed in, they
heard about the cost of doing nothing: It may incubate terrorism and
civil conflict.

Concluding that climate change will have wide-ranging impacts on U.S.
security in the coming decades, a classified report complicates an
already tangled debate by providing urgent new reasons to address the
problem of global warming at a time when American voters are anxious
about $4-a-gallon gas. Do something to lower gas prices, and you might
exacerbate warming and, potentially, terrorism. Assist in the fight
against global warming and risk economic hardship.

"It does trade off," said Sarah Ladislaw, a fellow in the energy and
national security program at the Center for Strategic and
International Studies. "The real question out there is: How well are
people going to deal with the trade-offs?" The convergence of the
increasing cost of fuel, global food shortages, global warming, and
national security threats show how interconnected these transnational
issues are, and policy makers need to be mindful of that, she said.

Addressing a congressional panel Wednesday, Thomas Fingar, chief of
intelligence analysis for the director of national intelligence, said
environmental degradation is likely to exacerbate mounting problems in
developing countries such as poverty, social tensions and weak

Those are the same issues that encourage aspiring terrorists, he said,
adding such changes "could increase the pool of potential recruits" to

Citing the agencies' first analysis of the national impacts of climate
change, Mr. Fingar said extreme weather, drought, flooding and disease
could lead to major migration that can inflame tensions within and
between countries. That may inflame domestic tensions "in a number of
key states," he told the Select Committee on Energy Independence and
Global Warming. He provided potentially grave predictions for Sub-
Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Closer to home, analysts anticipate more severe storms, a rising
demand for energy, and increased pressure on infrastructure in the

The report gives further credibility to the rising chorus of security
experts who have been warning about the impact of climate change, said
Sherri Goodman, general counsel for the Center for Naval Anlayses,
whose report on security and climate change prompted Congress to
mandate the report.

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