Intelligence Report Assesses Impact of Climate Change

Environmental change will trigger new issues for U.S. national security.

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The U.S. intelligence community has completed a classified analysis of the national security implications of climate change, part of which will be presented to Congress on Wednesday.

The National Intelligence Assessment (distinct from the better-known National Intelligence Estimate because it is a more speculative document) is being billed as the U.S. government's first analysis of the security threats posed by global warming.

Officials say that they do not expect the assessment to be declassified, but Thomas Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis and chairman of the National Intelligence Council, will present an overview of the findings.

The joint hearing of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Intelligence Community Management Subcommittee comes after a partisan battle over whether or not the intelligence community should be ordered to produce an analysis of the effects of climate change.

Democrats had pushed for such an assessment, but Republicans had demurred, calling it unnecessary. Intelligence officials, for their part, had already been working on the National Intelligence Assessment, which is described as a detailed explanation of different possible scenarios on how changing weather patterns could produce or exacerbate conflicts around the world.

A report issued last month by a number of government agencies, "The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources, and Biodiversity in the United States," predicted serious problems for agricultural production, water supplies, and forestry in the United States in coming decades.

—Kevin Whitelaw