Archive for the 'National Security' Category

NRC Report: A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

New Report: A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling

In late 2010 and 2011, I was writing about organizing U.S. climate modeling. I combined and posted some of the WU blogs on as Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling. I want to revisit those issues in light of the release of a National Academy of Sciences Report, A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling (2012).

I am a co-author of this Academy report. In this blog, I am writing not in my role as a co-author, but from my personal perspective. This blog fits in with many of the themes I have written about in the last few years.

First, I want to explain the role of the National Academy of Sciences. The Academy is a private, not-for-profit organization created by President Abraham Lincoln at the height of the Civil War. Lincoln and others at the time realized the importance of science and technology to the United States and wanted a way to get independent advice on issues important to policy. Almost 150 years later, this importance is greater, but the role of science is an increasingly controversial political issue – especially when scientific investigation comes into conflict with how we might want to believe and to act. (see, here or edited here ) So one role of the National Academy is independent review – a role that is at the heart of the scientific method and the culture of scientific practice.


Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling

Sunday, February 6th, 2011

Something New in the Past Decade? Organizing U.S. Climate Modeling

Update: The report referred to in the original blog was released on September 7, 2012: National Academy of Sciences Report, A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling (2012).

In 1999 I was part of a small group of people that was asked to write a report on climate modeling and supercomputing, and in particular, what needed to be done to make U.S. Federal efforts more effective. The report was published in 2000, and it is still available on line at the USGCRP website. (U.S. Global Change Research Program) Now in 2011 a panel is being convened to write about “A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Modeling.” (link) In this entry I want to return to the older report and think about what is different from 10 years ago.

When my co-authors and I wrote this report, we presented the results to several panels of distinguished people. Over the years, people have continued to send comments to me about the report. I contend that this report was different from a lot of other reports. I think it is safe to say that the authors of the report were chosen because of a willingness to look beyond their home agencies. Also we included as an author a sociologist who is expert in organizations and how to make organizations function.



Wednesday, July 11th, 2007


In an earlier post on this topic, I discussed the security implications of our growing national and global dependence on oil and the relationship between policies to curb oil consumption and policies to mitigate climate change. In this post, I’ll discuss how climate change itself quickly became a national security priority worthy of Congressional attention.


The story begins in February of this year, when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a summary report on impacts, adaptation and vulnerability (part of the second volume of the Fourth Assessment Report) in which they concluded “with high confidence that anthropogenic warming over the last three decades has had a discernable influence on many physical and biological systems.” (more…)


Monday, July 9th, 2007


This is the first of a two-part post in which I will revisit the connection between policies to mitigate climate change and policies to enhance national security. In the first post (today), I will consider the security implications of our increasing national and global dependence on oil and will discuss several climate and energy security policies in this context. In a follow-up post later in the week, I will turn to the security implications of climate change itself.


In the U.S., our conflicted relationship with oil is apparent each time we stop at a gas station. Collectively, it’s hard to imagine anything – with the obvious exception of food and water – so essential to our way of life. Yet, with gas prices firmly above three dollars per gallon, income spent on gasoline often does not feel like money well spent.


Add to this the fact that gas prices can be extremely unpredictable – subject to change based on the whims of OPEC, the paths of tropical storms, demand in China, the integrity of pipelines and speculation from Wall Street. Volatility is obviously troubling for individual consumers, but it is also troubling for those worried about the health of the economy as a whole. (more…)


Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Is climate change a national security threat? A month ago, a panel of retired military leaders said that it was. Two weeks ago, the Congress agreed and asked for a National Intelligence Estimate to be made of the national security implications of climate change. The Director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, endorsed this suggestion. So have environmentalists. Even Al Gore, when testifying before the Senate on climate change last March, used war analogies to provoke the Senate into action.

Recalling the Black Hawk Down incident in Somalia, Congressman Edward Markey, head of the new Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, told the Congress last week:

“Drought caused famine. Famine caused food relief. Food relief caused warlords to fight over it. The warlords’ fighting caused the U.S. to intervene, and 19 U.S. fighting men were killed.” (more…)