U.S. Intelligence Community Grapples with Climate Change

U.S. Intelligence Community Grapples with Climate Change

The U.S. intelligence community recently completed its first National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on the implications of global climate change for U.S. security. Although the report remains classified, senior intelligence officials have begun presenting its major findings in Congress and at various think tanks.

Most media commentary covered the findings of the NIE, but not the more interesting process by which the conclusions were reached. By the admission of the person in charge of the effort -- Thomas Fingar, deputy director of National Intelligence for Analysis and Chairman of the national Intelligence Council -- the climate change topic presents serious methodological challenges for the U.S. intelligence community.

Since climate change occurs over decades and centuries, and is governed by little understood non-linear processes and tipping points, analysts seeking to assess its consequences need to adopt a much longer perspective than for most subjects they regularly analyze. Instead of considering whether Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, for example, they need to ponder how the shrinkage of the Caspian Basin might affect Tehran's relations with the other littoral states, which currently disagree over how to delineate the seabed.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.