Edited by Edward A. Page and Michael Redclift
Chapter 9: Human Security and the Environment: The North American Perspective
Richard Matthew 1 INTRODUCTION For over two decades, researchers and policymakers in North America have been interested in the linkages between environmental change, conﬂict and security (for example, Falk, 1971; Brown, 1977; Ullman, 1983; Lipschutz, 1989; Mathews, 1989; Deudney, 1990; Gleick 1991; Homer-Dixon, 1991, 1994, 1999; Christopher, 1997, 1998; and Environmental Protection Agency, 1999). This interest grew rapidly after 1989, partially in response to research and policy opportunities created by the end of the Cold War.1 In the past ten years several of the most inﬂuential and widely-cited studies of these linkages have been carried out in the United States and Canada; numerous conferences and workshops held in North America have generated farreaching and lively debate; academic and policy journals have been established dedicated to this topic; and a range of government agencies and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have integrated this perspective into their activities, often with a substantial investment of ﬁnancial and human resources. According to a number of pundits and scholars, such as Jessica Tuchman Mathews (1989) and Thomas Homer-Dixon (1999), the remarkable activities of the 1990s have a sound intellectual and practical basis: growing environmental scarcities – especially of water, cropland, forests and ﬁsheries – are undermining social systems by aggravating existing tensions and introducing new sources of insecurity and violent conﬂict. More and more people are being forced to eke out an existence on barren lands. Many of these poor, desperate individuals contribute to regional instability by crossing international borders as they search for viable livelihoods....
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