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Über dieses Buch

The aim of this book is to demonstrate how environmental factors have caused an evolution in the landscape of national security since the end of the Cold War. Through relevant case studies, the scope of the problem on the national security landscape due to environmental stressors is illuminated, examined, and synthesized with climate-related data. Human variables such as governance, GDP, and vulnerability are taken into account, and are compared against environmental factors to more accurately determine the causative agents of regional conflicts which threaten national security. These case studies comprise the majority of the text, and they show how individual conflicts are uniquely influenced by environmental stress with variations from situation to situation. This book will be of interest to government and military professionals, and may serve as a resource for college courses in the areas of military geography, international affairs, and sustainability studies.



The Environment–Conflict Nexus

The evolution of the global strategic situation following the Cold War suggests the need to expand the definition of national security to include environmental threats to stability. Environmental security refers to a range of security issues triggered or intensified by environmental factors such as climate change, resources, demographic factors, natural disasters, environmental change, and non-sustainable practices. Environmental stress has the potential to destabilize states, but especially in the developing world because they are characteristically more dependent on the environment for economic productivity and they lack the resiliency to overcome these challenges. This chapter does not suggest that environmental stress––alone––causes warfare. To be more precise, it can potentially trigger violent conflict in unique situations of extreme civil instability and within failing states. The problem that we face today is that the number of failing states is growing, and they are more vulnerable to instability caused by environmental stress because they suffer from four causally related effects: (1) reduced agricultural production; (2) economic decline; (3) population displacement; and (4) civil disruption. These effects determine the vulnerability and adaptability of a society.

Francis A. Galgano

States at Risk: The Environment–Conflict Model

Linkages among global environmental problems and related economic, and demographic challenges have now emerged as one basis for interpreting conflict and security. This perspective has considerably refocused the lens by which we view the environment as a variable in the national security calculus. The Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC suggested that institutions and governments, especially in the developing world, will have a great deal of trouble adapting to the strain of climate change. Although various environmental security models identify interrelationships of critical variables, they also underscore the principal weakness of these models, which is a lack of predictive capacity. This chapter presents a Vulnerability and Risk Index (VRI) to identify states at risk to environmentally trigged conflict. The VRI is a composite indicator derived from the geometric mean of five dimensions; and ranks 173 states from the most to the least vulnerable. VRI results suggest that the problem of risk is not limited to, but clearly highly concentrated in the developing world. The data indicate that 23 states are most vulnerable to violent conflict and 81 states are vulnerable to violent conflict––this represents 60% of the global population. The integration of information in an index, such as the VRI offers a useful quantitative indicator by which to assess risk related to exposure to climate change, vulnerability, and adaptive capacity.

Francis A. Galgano

Defining Climate Change: What to Expect in a Warmer World

Climate change is likely to have important security implications on a global scale, yet most discussions covering this topic fail to outline or define the specific environmental impacts that should be expected in a warmer world. At present, there is overwhelming scientific evidence that average surface temperatures across the planet are rising, with the best science currently suggesting most if not all of the observed warming is due to human activity. The expected impacts of climate change on the physical environment are wide-ranging and include stronger, but not necessarily more frequent hurricanes. Tornado activity is unlikely to change appreciably in the future, although sea level will continue to rise, possibly at a faster pace. Future flooding is likely to become worse, partially due to increasing atmospheric water vapor, while drought is also expected to become more common as a result of heightened evaporation. Severe heat waves, a particularly dangerous natural disaster for the mid-latitudes, are also expected to become more frequent and intense. A firm understanding of climate change and its most likely impacts are a vital component to any discussion relating climate change and the security environment.

Adam J. Kalkstein

Abrupt Climate Change

Changes in Holocene climate have generally been gradual and the environmental security effects have been manageable. However, the long–term Holocene climate record also indicates that significant change is usually abrupt with major implications for regional and global stability. Economic and ecological impacts of abrupt climate events could exceed the adaptation capacity of most states. Climate models suggest that a potential abrupt event may result in harsher winter conditions, severe drought, and more intense zonal weather patterns. These conditions can induce major food and water shortages, persistent epidemics, and disputed access to energy resources. This scenario has the clear potential to destabilize the geopolitical environment thus leading to violent interstate conflict. This chapter will examine an abrupt climate change scenario from an environmental security perspective and present a regional framework to demonstrate the spatial pattern of potential threats.

Francis A. Galgano

Water in the Middle East

Water resources are a particularly problematic variable in the environmental security milieu because water is an essential resource for which there is no substitute. The volume of renewable fresh water is finite and not equitably distributed in a spatial sense. From a geopolitical perspective, the world’s largest river systems are shared by multiple states and the potential for conflict is high. Historically water conflicts have resolved by cooperative means and states have relied on technology, trade, and diplomatic solutions. This chapter argues that the security landscape has changed profoundly, and the history of cooperative water–conflict resolution is no longer a reliable guide to the future. Rather, the continued peaceful resolution of interstate water conflicts is inconsistent with the realities of the emerging national security landscape. Climate change is already adversely affecting the distribution of water in many critical water basins, and the simultaneous proliferation of failing states has reduced the potential for diplomatic resolutions. This chapter examines linkages between environmental stress, regional instability, water availability, and conflict and uses the Middle East as a case study to highlight these points.

Francis A. Galgano

Water, Land, and Governance: Environmental Security in Dense Urban Areas in Sub-Saharan Africa

As the demographic shift to an urban society continues, there are often extreme limitations in the abilities of formal municipal governments to plan space, infrastructure, and resources. This leads to issues of large-scale unplanned habitations, extreme stress on environmental resources, uncontrolled sprawl, pollution, informal governance structures, and dangerous power conflicts. This chapter will use specific examples from Accra, Ghana and Kampala, Uganda to discuss Environmental Security in sub-Saharan Africa. Both these cities are mid-size cities experiencing rapid urbanization and both cities have a significant proportion of their population living in informal areas. Environmental security in dense urban areas in sub-Saharan Africa is intricately linked to the complex relationship between water, land, and governance.

Amy K. Richmond

When Politics, the Environment, and Advocacy Compete–Environmental Security in the South China Sea

Island building in the South China Sea by China and other neighbors continues at a destructive and unprecedented rate. China now occupies more than 3000 acres of artificially constructed island space and has built land at a pace that is 17 times greater in recent years than all other claimants have built in combined efforts over the past 40 years. While calls for accountability by some national actors have been insistent, voices from non–governmental actors are largely absent. As the entire region is very complex, a holistic understanding of the operational setting demands: a full appreciation of the ability for stakeholders to hold regional actors accountable; an examination of key major environmental issues; and an analysis of regional security risks through a modified approach for assessing non-land based environmental security. This chapter examines these issues, models outcomes if no intervention is offered, and recommends contexts where China can be influenced and may be more willing to amend their activities in the region.

Wiley C. Thompson

East Africa in World War I: A Geographic Analysis

Most geographic analyses conducted during and after the First World War focused exclusively on the influence of physical geography on battles in Europe. In recent years, however, a growing body of research has emerged on the campaign fought in East Africa by the European powers, which includes the importance of the human landscape and environmental security. The war that raged across East Africa was linked strongly to competition for vital resources among Europe’s great powers and it illustrates the most problematic outcome of the environment–conflict nexus: i.e., interstate war. The scope of military geography has expanded and contemporary perspectives have advanced beyond describing the effects of the natural landscape on warfare. They include incisive analyses of the cultural landscape and how human geography shapes, and is shaped by conflict. This paper provides a military geographic perspective of the East African campaign, and analyzes how environmental factors and human geography dramatically influenced the course of this conflict. This paper will focus on salient aspects of physical and human geography that were decisive during the campaign. This analysis suggests that the region’s natural and human landscape inevitably compelled German and British forces to involve hundreds of thousands of Africans as soldiers and laborers; and that they suffered severe causalities and depredations because of this war.

Andrew D. Lohman

Conflict in the Horn of Africa: The Ogaden War of 1977

The nexus of environmental insecurity, disasters, and conflict have become an essential paradigm in security planning, policy, and analyses. The U.S. National Intelligence Council warns that the likelihood of environmentally triggered conflict will increase in the coming decades. Nonetheless, many scholars dismiss this outlook. History appears to support their position because these problems have typically been resolved using peaceful, diplomatic or economic means. Furthermore, it is difficult to establish clear cause–and–effect links between disasters, environmental stress, and armed conflict. However, the security landscape has changed decisively. This chapter suggests that continued peaceful resolution of potential conflicts with an environmental component is incongruous with the realities of the emerging national security landscape. First, climate change and demographic factors are degrading environments and magnifying the effects of environmental degradation and resource shortages beyond the management capacity of many states. Second, the proliferation of failing states has singularly reduced the potential for diplomatic resolution in many regions. Finally, competition for essential resources has been intensified by population growth. Thus, I argue that environmental factors will likely provide a tipping point for regions that already manifest severe environmental degradation and civil unrest; and these insidious problems can be exacerbated by disasters or other short–term climate shocks. The 1977 Ogaden War is one such example and is used as a case study to illustrate these dynamics. An analytical framework is used to illustrate the factors of environmental change, non–sustainable practices, human activity, and governance in Ethiopia during the 1970s to demonstrate their role in triggering the Ogaden War.

Francis A. Galgano

The 1994 Rwandan Genocide

Links between human factors, governance, and environmental degradation have the potential to trigger internecine conflict, such as the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Evidence suggests that this trend will persist in the near term because climate change and the adverse effects of the environment will continue to stress marginal environments in places with inherently weak governance. This has led to a greater acceptance of the environment as an emerging factor on the national security landscape. This analysis uses a framework that encompasses natural and anthropogenic factors to enable a comprehensive analysis of issues that contribute to environmentally triggered conflict. In the case of the 1994 Rwandan civil war, factors of population, economic decline, drought, and unstainable agricultural practices exacerbated latent ethic conflict to spark one of the worst human disasters of the last century.

Amy K. Richmond, Francis A. Galgano

Climate and the Syrian Civil War

The relationship between climate change and security represents a subset of environmental security, and a new area of multidisciplinary research. Although climate change is now discussed in the national security policy and doctrine of a number of countries, research linking climate change and security has been debated, and has not yet adequately dealt with high levels of uncertainty in the associated complex socio-environmental systems. This chapter examines the relationship between climate change and security using the Syrian civil war as a case study. Some policy makers, commentators, and scholars have proposed that the Syrian civil war was caused, at least in part, by a long–term regional drought during the late 2000s, and that the drought is attributable to anthropogenic climate change. Others critique such claims, arguing that the effects of the drought, especially drought–induced migration, have been exaggerated, that it is not possible to attribute the drought to climate change (natural or anthropogenic), or that it is simply inaccurate to attribute the civil war to the drought in light of other, more significant socio–political factors. This chapter explores claims on opposing sides of the issue, in order to illuminate the ongoing debate. Finally the chapter summarizes lessons from the Syrian civil war as an environmental security case study, and suggests areas for future research.

Mark R. Read


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