Human Security and the Environment

Human Security and the Environment

International Comparisons

Edited by Edward A. Page and Michael Redclift

In the post-Cold War era, the pre-eminent threats to our security derive from human degradation of vital ecosystems as well as the possibility of war and terrorist attack. This substantial book examines this new ‘security-environment’ paradigm and the way in which the activities of societies are shifting the balance with nature. The distinguished authors investigate this redefinition of security with particular reference to environmental threats such as climate change and the availability of adequate supplies of food and water. They illustrate how unfettered economic growth, rising levels of personal consumption and unsustainable natural resource and energy procurement are taking a heavy toll on the global environment.

Introduction: Human Security and the Environment at the New Millennium

Edward Page and Michael Redclift

Subjects: environment, environmental geography, environmental politics and policy, environmental sociology, politics and public policy, environmental politics and policy, european politics and policy


Edward Page and Michael Redclift 1 HUMAN SECURITY AND THE ENVIRONMENT IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY This book examines the meaning of ‘security’ and the ‘environment’ in the post-Cold War era, and the ways in which the activities of human societies are shifting the balance with nature. Throughout the twentieth century, many of the conflicts between human societies and the natural environment have reflected differences in the capacities and wealth of human societies. In the developed world, ecological movements grew up which expressed concern about the implications for nature of unfettered economic growth. Rising levels of personal consumption, and unsustainable systems of natural resource and energy procurement, were taking a heavy toll on the planet (Redclift, 1996). Awareness of the possible implications of global climate change only served to highlight divisions between the North and the South. In the North, the pursuit of higher living standards was, paradoxically, threatening the quality of life of many people caught up in the momentum of ‘getting and spending’. In the South, countries intent on achieving the benefits of economic development have been faced by contradictory pressures. Increased dependence on fossil fuels, rising living standards and population pressures are serving to exacerbate the ‘forcing’ of world climate change. At the same time, threats to their domestic environments – to tropical forests, vulnerable coastal areas and wetlands – have forced developing countries to re-examine the more immediate environmental security of their own populations. In 1987 the term ‘security’ was still defined solely in terms...