Climatic Change

, 108:803 | Cite as

Defense community perspectives on uncertainty and confidence judgments

  • Marcus KingEmail author
  • Sherri Goodman


In 2007, the CNA Military Advisory Board (MAB), an expert panel composed of 11 retired admirals and generals from the United States, identified climate change as a “threat multiplier” for instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world. (CNA MAB National security and the threat of climate change 2007)The Department of Defense reached a similar conclusion in last year’s Quadrennial Defense Review–a legislatively mandated analysis of the Defense Department’s strategy and priorities. This document frames the long-term course for policy decision-making at the highest levels. The reports demonstrate that climate change and energy are now mainstream elements of national security planning, and can be assessed within the frameworks used to evaluate other threats, risks, and responses. However, the exact magnitude of the threat posed by climate change is difficult to calibrate in part because the language used by scientists to predict uncertainty and the confidence levels of judgments is not sufficiently clear. The defense community has a vast amount of experience exploring and dealing with uncertainty. Scientists trying to better describe the effects of climate change may be able to draw lessons from the defense community’s approach to uncertainty including how to better communicate findings to wide audiences including policy-makers.


National Security Confidence Judgment Intelligence Analysis Increase Water Stress Defense Community 
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  5. US Army (1996) Field Manual No. 71–100 Division Operations. Accessed 27 January 2011.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CNAAlexandriaUSA

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