Whether you believe that climate change is human induced or not, the fact that climate is changing should not be doubted. Rising sea levels, melting ice caps, droughts, flood - the impacts of climate change are wide-ranging, and can have a serious effect on people and places through resource depletion, migration, disease, conflicts and riots (among others). So why should climate change not be considered a threat to national security?
A report by the Defense Science Board (PDF) which urges the CIA to move forwards its climate change assessment operations states:
"Climate change is likely to have the greatest impact on security through its indirect effect on conflict and vulnerability. [...] Climate change is more likely to be an exacerbating factor for failure to meet basic human needs and for social conflict, rather than the root cause. Climate change is already intensifying environmental and resource problems that communities are facing."
The report refers particularly to the impact of climate change on developing countries. This article for McClatchy gives examples of flooding in Pakistan and the video refers to the Darfur conflict in Sudan as originating over resource and territory conflicts in the face of drought. How does climate change influence security for developed countries? Well the DSB report puts it in this ever-so-sensitive manner:
"The United States does have a vital interest in promoting stability in areas of strategic interest."
I guess we all know what they mean by 'strategic'. And although this hasn't been put very delicately, it is true that the globalised world we live in today means we are highly dependent on resources from elsewhere (oil, tech, food, etc. etc.).
So what role can the CIA and intelligence agencies worldwide play in helping nations adapt to the impacts of climate change? A lot, I would suggest. Acquiring climate data and modelling, for one. Prediction of potential risk areas will be key to adaptation. But also sharing this knowledge and working together with other nations to plan, implement and manage solutions. And then there is the issue of conflict and war over resources.
It's an interesting thought anyway. Not quite James Bond... but still a useful way to apply climate science.