International Handbook of Energy Security
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International Handbook of Energy Security

Edited by Hugh Dyer and Maria Julia Trombetta

This Handbook brings together energy security experts to explore the implications of framing the energy debate in security terms, both in respect of the governance of energy systems and the practices associated with energy security.
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Chapter 17: Washing away energy security: the vulnerability of energy infrastructure to environmental change

Cleo Paskal


Energy generation, extraction, refining, processing, distribution and delivery requires a complex, interlinked, costly and, sometimes, global infrastructure. However, much of that infrastructure lies in areas that are becoming increasingly physically unstable due to changes in the environment. Of particular concern are disruptions caused by, or exacerbated by, environmental change. Climate change is only one (albeit critical) component of the larger challenge of direct, man-made environmental change. Humans often make direct and major alterations to the environment. Recently, for example, massive population increases have had a dramatic effect on the physical environment. At the turn of the 20th century, there were around 1.65 billion people on the planet. At the turn of the 21st, there were around 6 billion. The result is more groundwater pumped up potentially creating subsidence, more deforestation leading to erosion, more developments in flood plains putting infrastructure in vulnerable location, etc.

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