November 2007: The Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for a New American Security issued “The ”, a scenarios analysis that predicts global warming will produce “heightened internal and cross-border tensions caused by large-scale migrations; conflict sparked by resource scarcity, particularly in the weak and failing states of Africa; increased disease proliferation, which will have economic consequences; and some geopolitical reordering as nations adjust to shifts in resources and prevalence of disease.”
Among the authors was Jim Woolsey, former director of the CIA and energy advisor to Sen. John McCain during his presidential campaign.
June 2008: The National Intelligence Council completed the first-ever National Intelligence Assessment of climate change. Its contents are classified, but the chairman of the Council, Thomas Fingar, summarized before the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on June 25:
We judge global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for U.S. national security interests over the next 20 years. … From a national security perspective, climate change has the potential to affect lives (for example, through food and water shortages, increased health problems including the spread of disease, and increased potential for conflict), property (for example through ground subsidence, flooding, coastal erosion and extreme weather events) and other security interests.
The day after Fingar’s testimony, Sherri Goodman – the former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Environmental Security and now general counsel of the CNA :
What are the potential security consequences of these destabilizing effects? Overall they increase the potential for failed states and the growth of terrorism; mass migrations will lead to greater regional and global tensions; and tension over resources, particularly water, are almost certain to escalate.
Goodman offered Congress a direct quote from Gen. Anthony Zinni, former Commander of the U.S. Central Command:
We will pay for this one way or another. We will pay to reduce greenhouse gas emissions today … or we will pay the price later in military terms. And that will involve human lives. There will be a human toll. There is no way out of this that does not have real costs attached to it. That has to hit home.
That conclusion did not hit home in the 110th Congress, which failed to give serious debate to climate legislation.
Today in the 111th Congress, the best hope for confronting global climate change is the Waxman-Markey bill – a serious cap-and-trade proposal making its way this week through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Although the bill has a long road and lots of landmines ahead, hopes are rising that it could pass Congress and reach the president’s desk before the international community attempts to negotiate a global climate deal this December in Copenhagen.
That is critically important. We should make no mistake: What we do in the United States will establish the standard for the rest of the world. No nation will agree to be more ambitious that we are in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions. That means, in effect, the United States Congress is legislating not just for the American people, but for the world. The issue being raised by respected members of our military and intelligence services is not just national security; it’s global security.