From InsideClimateNews (Neela Banerjee):
The nation’s intelligence community warned in its annual assessment of worldwide threats that climate change and other kinds of environmental degradation pose risks to global stability because they are “likely to fuel competition for resources, economic distress, and social discontent through 2019 and beyond.”
Released Tuesday, the Worldwide Threat Assessment prepared by the Director of National Intelligence added to a swelling chorus of scientific and national security voices in pointing out the ways climate change fuels widespread insecurity and erodes America’s ability to respond to it.
“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,” said the report, which represents the consensus view among top intelligence officials. “Irreversible damage to ecosystems and habitats will undermine the economic benefits they provide, worsened by air, soil, water, and marine pollution.”
In just the past two weeks, the Pentagon sent a report to Congress describing extreme weather and climate risks to dozens of critical military installations. (House leaders on Wednesday asked for more details, including an assessment of the 10 bases in each service most vulnerable to climate change.) The Government Accountability Office also recommended the State Department resume providing guidance to U.S. diplomats about climate change and migration. Last week, a scientific paper concluded that drought driven by climate change and the subsequent fights over water resources increased the likelihood of armed conflict in the Middle East from 2011–2015, which in turn triggered waves refugees.
The United Nations Security Council also held a discussion on Friday devoted to understanding and responding to how climate change acts as a “threat multiplier” in countries where governance is already fragile and resources are sparse.
Robert Mardini, the permanent observer to the UN from the International Committee of the Red Cross, said his group’s fieldwork confirms the “double impact” of climate change and war.
“Climate change exacerbates vulnerabilities and inequalities, especially in situations of armed conflict, where countries, communities and populations are the least prepared and the least able to protect themselves and adapt,” Mardini told the Security Council, according to his published remarks. “Conflicts harm the structures and systems that are necessary to facilitate adaptation to climate change.”