Chad Briggs: Dealing With Risk and Uncertainty in Climate-Security IssuesJuly 21, 2010 By Wilson Center Staff
We must do more than simply take our current understanding of climate-change risk and extrapolate it into the future, asserted Chad Briggs of the Berlin-based Adelphi Research in a video interview with the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program.
For planners in the military and intelligence community, climate change brings a “context of uncertainty” that is challenging because they must “look in the dark spaces” where there is little data, said Briggs. But he argues it is imperative that they do so: “So often…we look just where we can look, even though we know it’s the wrong place.”
Why were some security considerations not included in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessments? “The research just wasn’t that far along [on some issues], but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t worry about it,” according to Briggs, who has worked with the U.S. Department of Energy on climate-security issues.
“One aspect of risk assessment is that it’s not simply ‘impact times probability’ but it’s also ‘times uncertainty,’ and we forget that if there’s a gross amount of uncertainty, sometimes it’s worth worrying about more,” he said.
Stay tuned to the New Security Beat for more in our series on “Backdraft: The Conflict Potential of Climate Adaptation and Mitigation.”