In preparing my lectures for this week (in the course POLI 375 Global Environmental Politics), I found myself at a loss. While I am well immersed in the academic literature, reading every issue of the associated journals in the discipline (Global Environmental Politics and International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics), I couldn’t find one single short piece that described to me (and obviously to my students) the state of the research agenda in environmental security.
The work of Simon Dalby, Geoff and Dave Dabelko, Thomas Homer-Dixon and a number of other scholars is focused on environmental security. And while the definitional issue seems to have been left behind in the conversation, I still find that scholars have difficulties in determining what exactly encompasses environmental security.
Recent work by Joshua Busby has focused on demonstrating the linkages between climate change and international security. This link is particularly visible because of the obvious nexus between vulnerability to climate change in nations and bad governance/past conflict. The above mentioned negative conditions have made these countries even more vulnerable. Responding to disasters thus becomes a challenge.
In my primary research field (water), the concept of water security has been at the forefront of academic discussions, but I ponder whether the field of environmental security can afford to continue to focus on “security in resource X or Y” rather than examining the inextricable linkages between environmental degradation and international security/foreign policy.
So I ponder, where is the debate going in the field of global environmental security? Is it going to continue in the two sub-fields (interconnected) of environmental refugees and climate-security? I wrote this blog entry to help set the stage for an online conversation between me, my students in the course, and potentially other research colleagues in the field. Comments, as always, appreciated.