It is good to the CIA become more involved in potential security threats arising from climate change. However, the skeptic in me questions how this will interact with existing programs, particularly military assessments of climate change which have been at least under consideration for some period of time. In particular, I wonder how the Center will operate. Anything of this nature has the tendency to have many issues shoehorned into it, rather than maintaining more solid lines. Partially, I believe this is because of the sheer scale and scope of climate change. The other half of the equation is politicization of topics, as Geoff pointed out in his article.
Personally, I would love to see some assessments of risk born in the Arctic region as natural wealth and energy deposits become more viably extracted. Indeed, the earliest signs of this have already been planted. Russia planted its flag at the bottom of the Arctic Sea, on the Lomonosov Ridge, to stake its potential claims. Greenland and the US are also putting out their claims, and Canada has declared that the Northwestern Passage is part of its own internal waters, while the US and other nations claim they are international waters. The more southerly edges of the Arctic are also becoming of such interest, that last year the USGS completed its survey, “Circum-Arctic Resource Appraisal” which assessed “90 billion barrels of oil, 1,669 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 44 billion barrels of natural gas liquids” in the Arctic that are as of yet undiscovered. To put this in perspective, proved natural gas reserves were 6,254 trillion cubic feet as of 1/1/2009. (EIA International Energy Outlook 2009 – Natural Gas)
In summation, I am excited that the CIA has opened its new Center, and it is my hope that they will spend some effort into examining potential conflict in the Arctic.