Climate change is likely to pose a significant national security challenge for the U.S. over the next two decades by heightening social and political tensions, threatening the stability of some countries and increasing human health risks, according to a government report released by the office of the Director of National Intelligence on September 21.
In conjunction with the report, President Barack Obama signed a presidential memorandum ordering federal agencies to account for climate change’s impacts when developing national security policies.
According to The Associated Press, six of the 17 hottest months on record have been the summer months of 2015 and 2016. According to data from NOAA, Earth witnessed its hottest August on record – 1.66 degrees above the 20th century average— and extended its streak of record-warm months to 16.
The White House said there is an increasing need for collaboration among scientists and the intelligence and national security communities. The president’s memorandum establishes a working group to help with this effort, and it directs federal agencies to develop plans to deal with potential scenarios resulting from climate change. The report says that over the next five years, U.S. security risks linked to climate change will arise primarily from extreme weather and water shortages, but over the next 20 years, broader changes such as rising sea levels could threaten small island states and low-lying coastal regions.