Climate change is a national security risk and can trigger political conflict around the globe, a report by a military research group funded by the U.S. government says.
As one example, the report from the CNA Corporation Military Advisory Board cited drought induced by climate change that is creating conflicts over water and food in Africa and the Middle East, exacerbates long-time ethnic and regional difference and prompts violent confrontations.
As another example, the report shows both food supplies and the people dependent on it are at risk by the rise in sea levels in low-lying coastal regions of Bangladesh, India and Vietnam's Mekong Delta.
Displacement of people from those regions could create problems of having to deal with massive waves of refugees, it said.
The report's content is being taken seriously and will be considered in formulating America's foreign policies, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says.
"Tribes are killing each other over water today," Kerry told the New York Times. "Think of what happens if you have massive dislocation, or the drying up of the waters of the Nile, of the major rivers in China and India."
"The intelligence community takes it seriously, and it's translated into action," he added.
The report is also going to have an impact on U.S. military policies around the world, Pentagon officials said.
"We are actively integrating climate considerations across the full spectrum of our activities to ensure a ready and resilient force," deputy undersecretary of defense for installations and environment John Conger said.
The report's authors, mostly retired high-ranking military figures, equated the climate change challenge to that of facing up to the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union during the Cold War or to combating terrorism as it has increased in decades.
The report, released May 13, was an update to a 2007 report from the same group -- the initial major look at links between national security and climate change -- and strongly made the point that its authors believe the potential impacts of climate change on the world as a whole have become much more significant.
Whereas the original report called climate change a "threat multiplier" that could aggravate already present factors creating worldwide disruptions, the new report calls it a "catalyst for conflict," capable of being the main driving force behind global conflicts.