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323 & 422 - Environmental Security: The Debate

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Shannon Gibson

on 2 November 2017

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Transcript of 323 & 422 - Environmental Security: The Debate

Securitization in Practice
State-based Approach:
United States National Security Strategy
Military used to respond to natural disasters
Brazil and others establishing Environmental Security Task Force
Low-lying island nations (AOSIS/SIDS) making climate change #1 security priority
Securitization in Practice
Human- & Eco-based Approaches:
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
Bolivia and others introduce the Rights of Mother Earth to their constitutions
“Climate change is the most severe problem we are facing today, more serious even than the threat of terrorism” –
David King, UK Government Chief Scientist
increasing trend to view environmental issues as matters of security
approach dates back to 1970s, but gains traction after Cold War
New definition of security threats:
event that drastically threatens to degrade quality of life or the inhabitants of a state
event that threatens to narrow the range of policy choices available to a state
State-based Securitization
Jessica Matthew (1989) - resource wars cause regional instability
Thomas Homer-Dixon (1994): resource war thesis - environmental scarcity can be a root cause of social unrest which then develops to political unrest
Robert Kaplan (1994): environmental refugees as globally destabilizing
Copenhagen School: “Threats…have to be staged as existential threats to a referent object by a securitizing actor who thereby generates endorsement of emergency measures beyond rules that would otherwise bind."
the ultimate "environmental security issue" - civilizational demise
Environmental Security: The Debate
IR 422 - Prof. Shannon Gibson
Human Securitization
Liberals, Constructivists & Critical Theoriests
application of human security to environmental issues
Richard Falk (1995): "Security: the negation of insecurity as it is specifically experienced by individuals and groups."
Goes beyond prevention of harm....guaranteeing of human rights to adequate life.
Far Left - is overly anthropocentric approach
Human Security itself as a contested concept
Weak analytical links
between the two topics
Widening is overly
Risks of harnessing
emotive power
to deal with environment issues
Environmental degradation
not likely
to cause interstate wars
Could lead states to lose sight of preventive diplomacy and
lead to more wars
1. Malthusians
application of Tragedy of the Commons to the theory of population growth
pessimistic outlook
politically leads to stark divisions
2. Cornucopians
More optimistic look
Point out that "doomsday" prophecies have not occured - WHY?
Demographic Transition
What are the pros and cons of this approach?
Is overpopulation or climate change a more pressing security issue?
Dr. Gibson:
Is and should climate change be considered a national security threat?

Gen. David Petraeus:
Yeah, climate change is a national security threat. That's been recognized. So what?
Perspectives on Climate Change and Security
Why is population control so controversial?

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