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WASHINGTON -- Global climate change will have wide-ranging implications for national security over the next two decades, affecting the stability of some developing countries and potentially contributing to civil conflict, according to the first public intelligence analysis of the security impacts of global warming.
The confidential report's sweeping conclusions will likely add fuel to the political debate as battles over climate change and energy heat up on the campaign trail. Last year's congressional mandate for this intelligence report sparked fierce partisan clashes as Republicans argued that intelligence resources shouldn't be used for a report that relied on information that wasn't secret.
Partisan fights over the security impacts of climate change date back at least to the Clinton administration, when then-Vice President Al Gore launched an initiative at the CIA in 1997 to study the security implications of environmental degradation. It collapsed a few years later under political pressure from congressional Republicans.
The biggest impact on U.S. security will be indirect, the report finds, resulting from "climate-driven effects on many other countries and their potential to seriously affect U.S. national security interests," Thomas Fingar, chief of analysis for the director of national intelligence, will tell Congress Wednesday, according to the draft of his opening statement. (See the statement.)
Climate-driven resource problems -- such as water shortages, extreme weather, and increased disease -- are likely to have the greatest impact, prompting conflict over dwindling resources and prompting migration as climate grow harsher, analysts found.