These documents define the challenges that the U.S. government, relevant agencies, and departments face with respect to climate change and its risks and impacts. They acknowledge the evolving landscape of national security as well as the mounting consequences of inaction. But these warnings are not new. They amount to “known knowns,” as popularized by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The U.S. national security establishment has long known climate change is a threat to the security of the nation, as evidenced by the NIC’s quadrennial Global Trends reports going back to the mid-1990s, the most recent of which was released in March 2021. These reports assess major global trends and their drivers and set the stage for U.S. strategic thinking over the coming decades. Warnings on environmental and climate risks regularly appear in the Director of National Intelligence’s annual briefing to Congress on threats to U.S. national security.
Completing the Picture
It is time to gather the data, codify the knowledge, and implement a climate risk framework and data platform to address the diversity of climate challenges facing our nation, domestically and abroad. LMI’s ClimateIQ™ capability, in partnership with The Climate Service (TCS), offers the model for such a system: a potent collection of underlying data, with powerful analytics, to answer complex climate questions consistently. The model applies well in the commercial world as evidenced by TCS’s Climanomics™ tool for quantifying risks to corporate assets and operations. The latest science around climate hazards, risk models, and impact functions drives Climanomics™, evaluating not only risks and vulnerabilities but quantifying their effects. LMI supplies the same capability to the federal government through ClimateIQ™; however, we are only scratching the surface of its potential.
If the federal government intends for a whole-of-government approach to address climate change, it requires a system capable of the task. Every agency needs to operate from a common, rigorously verified understanding of climate change. This unity is the only way to truly know the primary challenges, where to best apply resources, and how to measure effectiveness. The interplay between climate change and national security can be demystified through a solid foundation of data. The impacts of climate change on national security do not need to be “unknown unknowns.”