Climate Change and ‘Security’

Nils Gilman, Doug Randall and Peter Schwartz

in The Oxford Handbook of Climate Change and Society

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780199566600
Published online January 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations

Climate Change and ‘Security’

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Climate change represents a unique and novel security threat: it has the capacity to devastate human civilization if not humanity as a biological species, yet it is not produced by enemies intending to do harm to a particular state. The complexity in it makes it challenging for policy makers to assess climate change threats and consequently to prioritize resources for countering them. This article provides a clear framework for analyzing the full range of security threats posed by climate change, with a view to determining appropriate governmental policy responses. It suggests that most climate change-related security threats pertain to vital systems and population security, and only secondarily (that is, more remotely in time) to sovereign state security. The most immediate security threats posed by climate change will involve acute insults to and chronic compromising of critical infrastructure, including energy production and delivery systems, transportation networks, agriculture, and water supplies.

Keywords: national security; geopolitical solution; biological species; energy production; population security

Article.  7778 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Public Policy ; International Relations

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