Edited by Edward A. Page and Michael R. Redclift
Chapter 1: Human Security and the Environment
Edward Page 1 INTRODUCTION The phenomenon of global environmental change (that is, of natural and human induced changes in the Earth’s environment, affecting land use and land cover, biodiversity, atmospheric composition and climate) raises a number of interesting questions for scholars of political science and international relations. Some of these concern the way in which states might cooperate in order to mitigate, or adapt to, the environmental stresses associated with climatic change, deforestation, declining species diversity and so on. Others relate to the way in which global environmental change may exacerbate existing inequalities across space and time. In this chapter, I want to pursue the question of links between environmental change and some rival conceptions of security. On the face of it, the prospect of securing a full reconciliation between the notions of environmental change and security are not encouraging. This is because the traditional focus of work on security has been on the investigation of military threats to the territorial integrity of a given state that arise either externally (from the military activities of other states) or internally (from the subversive, and generally violent, activities of terrorist groups). The security studies literature usually, though not exclusively, views individual states as sovereign entities that pursue their own advantage in a context where other states do the same. That is, this literature is on the whole shaped by neo-liberal and neo-realist assumptions, such as the assumption that the behaviour of states is determined by the structure of power relations in the...
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