Weather Report

By Thomas Duffy / September 28, 2009 at 5:00 AM

You may have missed this last Friday as you headed out the door for the weekend. The CIA is getting into the climate change business. Or at least it will keep an eye on how climate change affects the country's security.

The agency announced on Friday it is creating The Center on Climate Change and National Security. The center will be “the focal point” for CIA's work on the issue, a Sept. 25 release states. It will be a small unit headed up by senior specialists from the agency's directorate of intelligence and the directorate of science and technology.

What the center will actually do is spelled out a bit further in the new release:

Its charter is not the science of climate change, but the national security impact of phenomena such as desertification, rising sea levels, population shifts, and heightened competition for natural resources. The Center will provide support to American policymakers as they negotiate, implement, and verify international agreements on environmental issues. That is something the CIA has done for years. “Decision makers need information and analysis on the effects climate change can have on security. The CIA is well positioned to deliver that intelligence,” said Director Leon Panetta.

The agency said the new center also will coordinate with the intelligence community on reviewing and declassifying imagery and other data that can be useful to scientists who are doing their own climate change research. The CIA expects the center to aggressively reach out to the academic community and to think tanks.