Summary of article on the Emergence of Environment as a Security Imperative
Growing scarcities of renewable resources can contribute to social instability and civil strife.(Homer-Dixon, Boutwell, & Rathjens, 1993)
The term environmental security didn’t come into general use until the 2000s. It had its first substantive framing in 1977, with the Lester Brown Worldwatch Paper 14 “Redefining National Security.” Brown argued that the traditional view of national security was based on the “assumption that the principal threat to security comes from other nations” (Brown, 1977). He went on to argue that future security “may now arise less from the relationship of nation to nation and more from the relationship between man to nature” (Brown, 1977).
Brown articulated this only five years after the first UN Conference on Human Environment (1972) which had one of the key inputs: The Club of Rome’s report on Limits to Growth. Limits to Growth identified five variables—world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion—that would impact how we live on this planet. The five variables were reviewed under three scenarios, two of which saw “overshoot and collapse” of the global system by the mid- to latter part of the 21st century. Only the third scenario would result in a “stabilized world” (Meadows, Meadows, Randers, & Behrens, 1972).
The issue of the world’s increasing population had become a critical issue in the late 1960s, as predictions saw the growth of a potential food crisis. Rates of population growth were the highest in the period 1965 to 1970, at 2.06% (United Nations, 2016). The green revolution in agriculture, with the adoption of new technologies that saw new high-yield varieties of cereals in association with chemical fertilizer and better water supply, went a long away to address those concerns.
Reviews of the scenarios by Graham Turner (2008), at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), found that three of the critical variables, industrial production, food production, and pollution, are all in line with one of the book’s three scenarios so far—that of “business as usual.”
In 2014, Turner concluded that “preparing for a collapsing global system could be even more important than trying to avoid collapse” (Turner, 2014).
In 2011, population and industrialization were identified as two of the three drivers of the nexus (food-water-energy-climate), the other being urbanization.
The full article can be found here on Oxford University Press page.
Books by Felix Dodds on Environmental Security
- The Water, Food Energy and Climate Nexus (2016) edited with Jamie Bartram
- Biodiversity and Ecosystem Insecurity: A Planet in Peril (2011) edited with Ahmed Djoghlaf
- Climate Change Insecurity: The Challenge for Peace, Security, and Development (2009) edited with Richard Sherman and Andrew Higham
- Human and Environmental Security: An Agenda for Change (2005) edited with Tim Pippard