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Is the environment an international security issue?

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  1. Introduction
  2. The origin of the word 'Environment'
  3. Defining security
  4. Environment as a threat to international security
    1. Ecological problems
    2. The impact the environment
    3. Environmental refugees
    4. Increasing the gap between developed countries and the developing world
  5. Conclusion

The last half of the 20th Century has been exclusively dominated by the Cold war conflict. There was little space in the analysis of the scholars in International relations for other minor issues of ?low politics?, while the questions of the nuclear war and balance of terror dominated the studies of world politics. Although international agreements have been signed for about a century, ?the environment was simply regarded as the unchanging context of international politics.? The first change occurred in the late 60s early 1970s, from a public awareness of environmental degradation due to the industrial activity. This emergence of the ecologic sensibility was translated by the creation of lobbying groups such as Greenpeace, and political parties around the Western world. But the real change in that respect was corollary to the end of the cold war. The collapse of the USSR put a temporary end to the major threat of the time, the nuclear war. New threats and a new definition of security then appeared in the study of International relations, challenging the old realist theories. These attempts to redefine concepts such as security or threat will be studied in the first part, as it is a key to understand how environment can be a security issue. There are several fashions in which environmental issues can represent international threats, and that is the focus of the second part.

[...] Levy states that ?human health is the only risk that, by itself, might constitute a security risk.?[11] Since environment degradation is a threat to human lives, it can be considered as a threat to international security. Speaking about American security, Levy argues: ?environment degradation constitutes a direct physical threat to the U.S. security interest when environmental damage results directly in the significant loss of life or welfare of U.S. citizens or otherwise impairs our national values.?[12] Skin cancer and eye damages are the most common diseases that can come due to the depletion of the ozone layer. [...]


[...] Bush as an international security threat after 9/11[17]. The anger of poor peasants, deprived from their land or whose land was not sufficient to make a living is often used by radical political movements. This is the case in Central America, where the voices of the peasants were a great asset in the recent left wave on the continent. But it can also been used in very violent way, such as in the Philippians guerrilla against the government during the 1990s. [...]

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