Petitioning for a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change

Go here to sign the petition requesting a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change.

National Intelligence Estimates provide the consensus view on a particular intelligence/security issue among all the US intelligence agencies. The most notable recent ones were the 2002 NIE on Iraq, in which analysts and agencies were most assuredly not pressured by Bush administration officials into producing an overwrought and almost wholly inaccurate assessment of the threat posed by Iraq, and the 2007 and 2011 ones on Iran, which offered the widely-ignored conclusion that Iran isn’t trying to develop nuclear weapons.

The most significant thing about the National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change is that there isn’t one. No issue will be more critical to the national security of the United States during the next several decades, no issue will have more profound effects on the behavior of other countries and populations, but we’re doing next to nothing to prepare for it because the Obama administration is leery of the politics involved.

Accordingly, I’ve created a petition through the White House “We the People” service — best known these days for spawning multiple petitions promoting secession — requesting the administration to commission a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change, and I want you all to publicize it and sign it. It’s a simple mechanism for bringing attention to the issue and, with a relatively paltry number of signatures, forcing the administration to publicly respond to it.

Climate change isn’t an intelligence analysis specialty yet, and one of the arguments opponents of an effort to assess the threat of it will make is that intelligence agencies aren’t qualified to do so. There’s a blueprint for the effort, though; in 2008, members of Congress requested and received a less authoritative intelligence analysis on climate change in the form of a National Intelligence Assessment: specifically, the National Intelligence Assessment on Climate Change to 2030. (This is a summary of the unclassified portions delivered to Congress by the supervisor of the effort.)

The analysts who produced the report relied primarily on government climate scientists for projections of what conditions climate change is likely to create around the world, and then applied their expertise to determine what would be the likely responses to those conditions from the people subject to them.

One would expect climate change deniers to object to the effort, and they did; possibly the objections had an impact on the degree to which the unclassified summary of the report downplayed the potential for violent responses to climate change-related difficulties around the world.

That’s in contrast to the privately-commissioned climate change threat assessment published by the Center for Naval Analyses, a military issues think tank that produced “National Security and the Threat of Climate Change” a year earlier.

Climate change can act as a threat multiplier for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world, and it presents significant national security challenges for the United States. Accordingly, it is appropriate to start now to help mitigate the severity of some of these emergent challenges. The decision to act should be made soon in order to plan prudently for the nation’s security. The increasing risks from climate change should be addressed now because they will almost certainly get worse if we delay.

If you’re concerned about climate change, and basically you’re an idiot if you’re not, this is the easiest thing you’ll ever be asked to do about it. Take 30 seconds, sign the petition and encourage others who might be interested to do the same. Let’s get the administration on the record about how seriously they take the issue.

One thought on “Petitioning for a National Intelligence Estimate on Climate Change”

  1. Done. Can’t hurt but it sure would be helpful to change the makeup of the congress.

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