/* */

23 July 2007

Wx-ing for the future

We have commented previously on the growing push towards institutionalizing the “climate change” issue as an intelligence account. As those who have made their career around other transnational issues which never quite fit neatly into previous concepts of what merited status as a unique account, we are actually even sympathetic to the arguments made by those in favour of the specialization, despite how strongly we ourselves would come down on the other side of the substantive underlying questions – and despite our driving sense of other priorities in the Long War.

Our appreciation for the arguments in favour of tracking on the climate change issue comes not from the science of the debate, as muddled and as frequently revised as it is. Rather, we note that many significant targets of national intelligence interest do believe in the narrative of climate change – and would continue to do so, no matter what the science may eventually show. Belief creates behaviors, and those behaviors are of interest, especially when the actor is a national level priority target.

Thus Politics and Soccer’s arguments in rejoinder , referencing PRC weather control activities, do not entirely fall on deaf ears. We have seen similar questions of activity and effect arise in related contexts, such as in economic intelligence assessments of agricultural productivity - once the bedrock of Soviet studies, and no doubt the future backbone of AFRICOM’s civil affairs and development efforts. And we have often witnessed local weather mitigation efforts, such as the automated counter-hail systems deployed in many European vineyards to protect the delicate vines. (Although we note, those seeking to define the climate accounts often attempt to divorce the prosaic and often inconvenient realities of weather intelligence from the grand questions of change.)

In the end, intelligence as an activity is entirely the sum of its tradeoffs. To assign analysts in the already thin bench to a climate change account would be to strip them from other transnational issues in which their expertise and time could be better spent. However, we do not think we would reject FINTEL papers touching upon the behavioral side of the equation, particularly in sensitive geopolitical contexts. And perhaps it is there, in the analyst’s own private wars (perhaps pursued on their 20% time), that the climate change account will be best identified and proven on its own merits rather than in the abstract of debate. And perhaps this may be another one of those issues in which public/private intelligence activity models may prove fruitful, as long as the politicization that has damaged the public debate can be avoided.

Who knows what may come of such an effort? With our luck, we may very well wind up working in due time for some young rising star SES that has come up through the climate change account…. But we hope that executive will have been firmly grounded in indications and warning, human factors, and operational net assessments regarding the issue rather than the amorphous prognostications of events hundreds or thousands of years in the future.

Labels: , , ,