US Intelligence Community Warns Of Climate Change Threats

WASHINGTON DC, United States

"Climate hazards such as extreme weather, higher temperatures, droughts, floods, wildfires, storms, sea level rise, soil degradation, and acidifying oceans are intensifying, threatening infrastructure, health, and water and food security," according a new report representing the consensus view among the US's top intelligence officials.

The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community, a "Statement for the Record" presented January 29 to the US Senate Select Committee for Intelligence by the country's Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats projects that "Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution."

Extreme weather events, many worsened by accelerating sea level rise, will particularly affect urban coastal areas in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Western Hemisphere. Damage to communication, energy, and transportation infrastructure could affect low-lying military bases, inflict economic costs, and cause human displacement and loss of life, according to the report.

Changes in the frequency and variability of heat waves, droughts, and floods—combined with poor governance practices—are increasing water and food insecurity around the world, increasing the risk of social unrest, migration, and interstate tension in countries such as Egypt, Ethiopia, Iraq, and Jordan, the Intelligence Community predicts.

US Government Auditors Critical Of Trump Administration Attitude To Climate Change Conflict Impacts

Previously, a January 17 report by the US Government’s General Accountability Office (GAO) criticized actions of the administration of US President Donald J Trump which, by rescinding Obama-era executive orders and strategies, have reduced the capacity of the country’s diplomats to prepare for destabilizing mass migration events caused by climate change.

“Climate Change: Activities of Selected Agencies to Address Potential Impact on Global Migration” says that "Without clear guidance, (the Department of) State may miss opportunities to identify and address issues related to climate change as a potential driver of migration”. Responding to Congressional requesters, the report draws on assessments provided by the US Department of State, the US Agency for International Development and the US Department of Defense.

Trump And Domestic US Climate Impacts

Regarding domestic US impacts of climate change, The US released its fourth National Climate Assessment Report in November 2018.

That Congressionally mandated Assessment summarized the impacts of climate change on the US, now and in the future. More than 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee produced the report, which was extensively reviewed by the public and experts, including federal agencies and a panel of the US National Academy of Sciences.

The authors reported that the quality and quantity of water available for use by people and ecosystems across the country are being affected by climate change, increasing risks and costs to agriculture, energy production, industry, recreation, and the environment.

The administration of Donald Trump came under fire for attempting to “bury” the report by releasing it November 23, during the US Thanksgiving holiday period. The famously climate-change-denying President subsequently told reporters that he doesn’t believe his own government’s climate change findings. “I’ve seen it, I’ve read some of it, and it’s fine,” he said outside the White House November 26. “I don’t believe it".

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