NOVEMBER 26, 2012
More than three years—and no doubt a chunk of change—later, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is quietly shutting down its insignificant center dedicated to climate change.
That’s right; the scandal-plagued government agency responsible for providing national security intelligence to senior U.S. policymakers operated a special unit that focused on global warming. Known as the Center on Climate Change and National Security, it was an exclusive division led by “senior specialists.” It operated under a cloak of secrecy that rejected all public-records requests, despite President Obama’s promise to run a transparent government.
When the center was launched in 2009, the CIA said it would not address the science of climate change but rather the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts and heightened competition for natural resources. The unit was touted as an important tool that would bring together in a single place expertise on an important national security topic; the effect environmental factors can have on political, economic and social stability overseas.
Instead it was a big joke that accomplished nothing and wasted undisclosed amounts (it’s a national security secret) of taxpayer dollars. In fact, Americans may never know much about what the center actually did or how much cash it blew since it’s all “classified” to prevent compromising national security. At least that’s what the CIA told an intelligence historian affiliated with the National Security Archives last year in response to a records request.
However, we will be left with some of the great work the special unit approved for public disclosure. For instance, earlier this month it divulged in a special report that global warming presents a worldwide security risk caused mainly by “social and political stresses outside the United States.” This may seem inconsequential from a spy agency basking in the shame of a major sex scandal.
The startling report actually exposes the national security dangers of global warming. Climate change is accelerating at such a fast pace that it will put severe strains on U.S. military and intelligence agencies in the coming years, the CIA-sanctioned study found. The changes will trigger increasingly disruptive developments around the world as well.
“Scientific evidence indicates that the global climate is moving outside the bounds of past experience and can be expected to put new stresses on societies around the world, prompting examination of a variety of plausible scenarios through which climate change might pose or alter security risks for the United States,” according to a summary from the report. It goes on to offer an improved understanding of the links between climate and security as well as the ability to anticipate potential security risks arising from “climate phenomena.”
With the folding of this special CIA global warming unit, Americans and the U.S. government must learn to survive without the sensational climate change intelligence it uncovered.
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