Global warming probably will mean more illegal immigration and humanitarian disasters, undermining shaky governments and possibly expanding the terrorism threat against the US, intelligence agencies say.
“Logic suggests the conditions exacerbated (by climate change) would increase the pool of potential recruits for terrorism,” said Tom Fingar, deputy director of national intelligence for analysis. Fingar said the intelligence agencies have only low to moderate confidence in the assessment because climate data tend to focus broad global changes instead of specific countries.
Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and Central and Southeast Asia are most vulnerable to warming-related drought, flooding and hunger. The assessment warns of a global spillover from increased migration and water-related disputes, Fingar said in prepared remarks Wednesday to a joint hearing of a special US House of Representatives committee on global warming and a House Intelligence subcommittee.
Climate change alone would not topple governments, he said. But it could worsen problems such as poverty, disease, migration and hunger, creating conditions that could destabilize already vulnerable areas, Fingar said.
But he warned that efforts to reduce global warming by changing energy policies “may affect U.S. national security interests even more than the physical impacts of climate change itself.”
“The operative word there is 'may,’ we don't know,” Fingar said.
The assessment of global climate change through 2030 is one in a series of periodic intelligence reports that offer the consensus of top analysts at all 16 spy agencies on foreign policy, security and global economic issues.
Congress requested the report last year. The assessment is classified as confidential.
It predicts that the United States and most of its allies will have the means to cope with climate change economically. Unspecified “regional partners” could face severe problems.
Africa is seen as among the most vulnerable regions. An expected increase in droughts there could cut agricultural yields of rain-dependent crops by up to half over the next 12 years.
Parts of Asia's food crops are vulnerable to droughts and floods, with rice and grain crops potentially facing up to a 10 percent decline by 2025. As many as 50 million additional people could face hunger by 2020. The water supply, while larger because of melting glaciers, will be under pressure from a growing population and increased consumption. Between 120 million and 1.2 billion people in Asia “will continue to experience some water stress.”
Latin America may experience increased precipitation, possibly cutting tens of millions of people from the ranks of those in need of water. But from 7 million to 77 million people could be short of water resources because of population growth.