A new report released by the National Intelligence Council makes dire predictions about a global destabilization scenario that could be in our near future.
By Anastacia Mott Austin
Citing their report that climate change "...will aggravate existing problems such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions" in some countries, members of the National Intelligence Council say that a possible worldwide crisis looms in our near future.
Thomas Fingar, chairman of the National Intelligence, testified this week before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. Though the 58-page report itself is classified, Fingar released some of the report's dire predictions, including the fact that global disease may spread as refugees from low-lying coastal countries try to flee disaster conditions.
Fingar added that potential host countries may not be equipped to handle the possibility of millions of desperate refugees, and the fragile political systems in place may give way under the pressures caused by a global humanitarian crisis.
The report, called "National Intelligence Assessment on the National Security Implications of Global Climate Change to 2030" consisted of input from retired military personnel, from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and all 16 United States' intelligence agencies.
The report emphasized that while climate change by itself will not cause a worldwide destabilization, the effects of global warming will cause a series of worsening situations that all contribute to political collapse and human crisis.
"Climate change alone is unlikely to trigger state failure," said Fingar. "But the impacts will worsen existing problems - such as poverty, social tensions, environmental degradation, ineffectual leadership and weak political institutions."
Fingar stated that the most affected countries will be in the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and central and southeast Asia.
Of Africa, Fingar says, "Without food aid, the region will probably face higher levels of instability, particularly violent ethnic clashes over land ownership."
Some areas of Africa may see their agricultural output decrease as much as 50% by 2020.
In addition, the report states that as many as 50 million more people than today could suffer from hunger by the year 2020, and 1.2 billion might face "water stress."
Fingar emphasized that while the United States may not feel the initial effects of global warming as keenly as some other nations, a worldwide crisis would eventually make itself felt even in comparatively prosperous nations like America. "The United States depends on a smooth-functioning international system ensuring the flow of trade and market access to critical raw materials, such as oil and gas, and security for its allies and partners," said Fingar. "Climate change and climate change policies could affect all of these with significant geopolitical consequences."
Reaction to the report ran predictably along party lines. Republican House committee member Darrell Issa (R-Ca) called the report "a dangerous diversion of intelligence resources."
But Democrat Committee Chairman Ed Markey told reporters, "Human beings all over the planet face death or damage or injury if we do not act."