Environmental security - the (not so) new national security ~ Abaster

03 April 2008

Environmental security - the (not so) new national security

Perhaps this is not obvious, but it should be - a nation's security is undermined by its dependencies on energy resources from other nations. This is not new: in 2006 the Council of Foreign Relations published a report on the "National Security Consequences of U.S. Oil Dependency" that should be read and re-read by policy-makers because it has become all the more relevant as fuel prices soar and the political stability and "friendliness" of those nations that have been gifted energy reserves become increasingly questionable.

Environmental security is an area of study that has been largely focused on the impact of natural disasters, and the mis-use of the environment and natural resources. It should become an increasingly relevant area of study: a nation's environmental security is directly threatened by excessive dependencies on external energy sources, no matter the nature of the relationship between the nation and the resource provider.

And if the impact of global warming is such that the physical nature of a nation is threatened - changes in climate resulting in significantly reduced arable land, coastal destruction and other dramatic alterations to our physical space that will cause massive human misery and economic loss - then Environmental security becomes even more relevant. The CFR report notes that reducing both energy dependencies AND energy consumption are critical to a nation's security. Until these are addressed we are knowingly contributing to actual or potential (depending on your political/scientific leanings) systems weaknesses that could prove disastrous to the nation state in the medium to longer term.

Environmental security is, and should be, an integral component of the security considerations of any country. "Save the planet to save ourselves" takes on a whole other meaning!

(Oh and subsidies for bio-fuels? Guess what, they increase a nation's external dependencies for the basic raw materials for food!)