Environmental Change and Human Security: Recognizing and Acting on Hazard Impacts

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Peter H. Liotta, David A. Mouat, W.G. Kepner, Judith Lancaster
Springer Netherlands, Aug 8, 2008 - Science - 478 pages
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Environmental and Human Security: Then and Now 1 2 ALAN D. HECHT AND P. H. LIOTTA * 1 U. S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Research and Development 2 Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy Salve Regina University 1. Nontraditional Threats to Security The events of September 11, 2001 have sharpened the debate over the meaning of being secure. Before 9/11 there were warnings in all parts of the world that social and environmental changes were occurring. While there was prosperity in North America and Western Europe, there was also increasing recognition that local and global effects of ecosystem degradation posed a serious threat. Trekking from Cairo to Cape Town thirty years after living in Africa as a young teacher, for example, travel writer Paul Theroux concluded that development in sub-Saharan Africa had failed to improve the quality of life for 300 million people: “Africa is materially more decrepit than it was when I first knew it—hungrier, poorer, less educated, more pessimistic, more corrupt, and you can’t tell the politicians from the witch-doctors” (2002). While scholars and historians will debate the causes of 9/11 for some time, one message is clear: An often dizzying array of nontraditional threats and complex vulnerabilities define security today. We must understand them, and deal with them, or suffer the consequences. Environmental security has always required att- tion to nontraditional threats linked closely with social and economic well-being.

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