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Environmental Security

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Todd Robinson UIUC

on 22 April 2014

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Transcript of Environmental Security

Environmental Security
Climate Change & Its Impact on Security
Can climate change be considered a security issue? Should it?
Why is there such widespread debate over climate change?
Is there proof that climate change is man-made?
Natural Disasters as a Security Issue
Are natural disasters a security issue?
Why would we securitize natural disasters?
Is climate change making natural disasters worse or more frequent?



International Approaches to the Environment
Earth Summit
Kyoto Accords
Doha Accords


Is the Environment a Security Issue?
Is the environment a security issue?
Why would the environment be a security issue?
Why would it be beneficial to securitize or politicize the environment?
Case Study: Tropical Cyclones
Data has consistently shown that climate change has no effect on the frequency of tropical cyclones, it has shown, in fact, that they are likely to become less frequent
Those that do occur are likely to be more severe, especially in the Pacific
This has been the conventional wisdom now for decades
New evidence brings this conclusion into doubt, shows that storms are becoming both more frequent and more severe


Case Study: Earthquakes & Tsunamis
The Rise of Environmental Security
Came to prominence at the conclusion of the Cold War
Traditional security thinkers approached it from a Cold War perspecive, argued that environmental change was a threat to national security. May be caused by:
Major disruptions to essential human systems
Wars due to struggle over scarce resources
Climate-induced migration in various places (leading to overcrowding)
Empirical research in the 90s suggested that environmental scarcities did not typically lead to armed conflict
We draw distinctions between environmental security and resource security
The former now focuses on the global impact of environmental change
Earthquakes are a danger for a number of reasons, and it seems like we hear about them all the time, but are they increasing in frequency? Data only goes back to the late 1800s.
Why do we seem to hear about them more now?
Tsunamis seem to be on the rise too, is this due to climate change?
2013 is now tied for the 7th hottest year on record
All of the top ten hottest years have been after 1998
The coldest year since 1998 is hotter than the hottest year prior to 1998
First widespread attempt to address the problem was the UN Conference on Environment and Development (June 1992) in Rio, informally known as the "earth summit." Addressed the following:
systematic scrutiny of patterns of production — particularly the production of toxic components, such as lead in gasoline, or poisonous waste including radioactive chemicals
alternative sources of energy to replace the use of fossil fuels which are linked to global climate change
new reliance on public transportation systems in order to reduce vehicle emissions, congestion in cities and the health problems caused by polluted air and smoke
the growing scarcity of water
Led to the creation of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, a non-binding internatioal treaty designed to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system"
Earth Summit
Is an addendum to the UN Framework on Climate Change
Addresses human-made causes of environental degradation
Sets emission reduction deadlines
Disproportionally targets developed nations
Not ratified by the US, even though they were lead negotiators, because it did not address China or India, two of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas production
Kyoto Protocol
Talks took place in Doha, Qatar, often referred to as the Doha Rounds of the Kyoto Accord
Calls for a new document to be put into place by 2015
Extends the Kyoto Protocol to 2020
Has received somewhat mixed reviews, continue to feel that without the US being involved, it is not going to be effective
2012 Climate Change Conference
Full transcript