Friday, May 04, 2007

Climate Change and National Security

This week the House Intelligence Committee provided a dramatic illustration of the difference between what Dan Caldwell and I called the "new paradigm" and the "traditional paradigm" in security studies as Democrats and Republicans clashed over whether the American intelligence community should be asked to assess the security implications of climate change.

Committee chairman Silvestre Reyes (D-TX), who led the majority in approving a requirement for a formal National Intelligence Estimate on environmental impacts on security, said, "Climate change can have a serious impact on military operations and exacerbate global tensions." In contrast, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) stated, "Our government should not commit expensive spy satellites and human intelligence sources to target something as undefined as the environment."

What do those who work in the intelligence community think? According to CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano, "The intelligence community has for a long time studied the impact that environmental factors--things like scarce resources and natural disasters--can have on global security. Those are real issues."