Bill Seeks Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change

Global climate change “represents a clear and present danger to the security and economy of the United States,” according to a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate yesterday, and it therefore warrants the focused attention of U.S. intelligence agencies.

“For years, many of us have examined global warming as an environmental or economic issue,” said Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL). “We also need to consider it as a security concern. Our bill begins this process by requiring a National Intelligence Estimate to assess the strategic challenges presented by the world’s changing climate.”

“In this legislation, we ask for the intelligence community to provide a strategic estimate of the risks posed by global climate change for countries or regions that are of particular economic or military significance to the United States or that are at serious risk of humanitarian suffering,” Senator Durbin said. “This NIE will assess the political, social, agricultural, and economic challenges for countries and their likely impact.”

The new bill is jointly sponsored by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).

“Senator Durbin and I differ on policy initiatives designed to reduce the impact of climate change,” said Sen. Hagel. “We do agree, however, on the need to assess potential impacts of the changing climate on U.S. national security interests so that our Nation can develop responsible, forward-thinking policies that ensure the continued safety and prosperity of the American people.”

See their March 28 introductory statements and the text of the new bill (S. 1018) here.

Among the eleven “policy coordinating committees” at the National Security Council that were established by President Bush’s National Security Presidential Directive 1 in February 2001 is one on “Global Environment.” But this NSC committee has left no identifiable public trace on U.S. policy.

No Responses to “Bill Seeks Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change”

  1. Andy March 29, 2007 at 3:47 PM #

    Oy. The intelligence community has neither the experience or expertise to answer this question, particularly given the political climate (pun intended). Are these Senators really that ignorant on intelligence matters?

    [Actually, there are precedents for intelligence community collection and analysis of environmental-related intelligence (e.g. the MEDEA program). And if the Senators' premise is correct -- that climate change poses a national security threat -- then it becomes an intelligence concern by definition. --SA]

  2. George Smith March 29, 2007 at 4:24 PM #

    Now you’ve gone and done it. James Inhofe will now be targeting Secrecy News for special attention.

    In any case, the Pentagon had two men “Imagining the Unthinkable” re global warming and its impact on world security in 2004. And conveniently, it’s here (pdf).

    Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow.

  3. Andy March 29, 2007 at 10:36 PM #

    Certainly parts of the intelligence community have done some environmental-related work, but that hardly qualifies them to produce an NIE on Global Warming. Could they participate and provide expertise? Sure, but the IC would have to import or commission most of the expertise. Why not just form an independent commission to study the issue – a commission that would bring all voices to the table?

  4. Cincinnatus April 2, 2007 at 2:14 PM #

    Then it wouldn’t have the weight of an NIE.