Immigration and Sustainable Development

Population and National Security by Jennifer Sciubba, Carolyn Lamere, and Geoffrey Dabelko broke down the concept of national security and its relation to the population size of a nation-state. The authors describe the history of public policies and the evolution of the rhetoric constructing national security, throughout which population has played a critical role in the development of society and international relations. The negative effects from climate change are an external factor of stress on each nation that directly conflicts with the rise in population. Each country now faces the challenge of maintaining their state’s population to a sustainable limit while supporting their international responsibilities as well as their growing economy.

The way a country handles immigration fluctuates and differs by country depending on the values of the people living in that country at the time. The reason it is highly political in each country is because an immigration policy reflects a certain view on the value of human lives, and even within on country, each citizen does not hold the same views on the role a host country must play for immigrants, particularly refugees. For a country as large and powerful as the United States, the weight of taking in immigrants from another nation would not be a burden so strong as to hurt our economy beyond repair.

The ethics that are being challenged with immigration policies are on the values of human life outside of your own country of origin. In my personal opinion, I do not think that we should, as Americans, be restricting the number of immigrants based on their country of origin, religion, or economic background. The threat we have to face is our own growing population. The question we have to answer is do we risk the lives of those already living by not accepting them into our country or do limit the rights of our citizens on the amount of children they are allowed to have to a sustainable level (according to our resources).

The thesis of the chapter, Environmental Security and Sustainable Development by Bishnu Raj Upreti, states that sustainable development needs to be pushed through governmental policies in order to establish an environmentally focused infrastructure in every nation. This compliments the previous chapter in that our current lifestyles, particularly added with the increase of population, will not be able to support the people in a sustainable way. What I believe we should be doing is changing our public infrastructure (making it less dependent on carbon emitting energy processes) and our lifestyles (i.e. the food we eat and the amount of water we consume) to be able to support our population based on our slowly depleting natural resources.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Education and its impact on security

Sciubba et. al. and Upreti examine the socioeconomic and politics of the State and international institutions affecting the environment security. Sciubba et. al. address that demographic changes with different conditions of quality influence military, environmental, political, societal, and economic security either positively or negatively. Upreti argues that the quality of governance of the State in balancing economic, social development and environmental conservation determines the environmental sustainability. Both authors agree that the quality, specifically the education, affects the environment and human societal security.

Education has always been considered as an essential factor in every aspect in human security. Sciubba et. al. state that the “quality—productivity, education, and so on” along with the quantity impacts the security. This notion of essential role of education in keeping stability and security is also implied in Upreti’s reading. He states that “more attention must be given to ensuring that the practitioner communities of the developing world have sufficient, appropriate knowledge to lay the foundations for and advance towards conditions of environmental security and sustainable development…” In the environmental security perspective, education is the most fundamental and practical way of developing the quality of governance of development and sustainability, educating the ignorance of climate change and resource scarcity, and inducing the response to future environmental change.

For instance, before taking this course and having access to the materials related to environment and environmental security, I had no clue about how serious the climate change, resource scarcity, and the following interstate and intrastate conflicts are. That is, when people do not have enough opportunity to have such education, it is hard for them to understand the environmental issues. Therefore, in order to change the socio-economic and political practices that block the environmental sustainability, it is important for the government to enhance the education about the environmental security and to organize various activities and forums related to the environmental issues. As the importance of education can be applied to other types of human security, such as military, political, societal, and economic securities, the education is essential so that the non-professionals or non-experts also have understanding of those issues.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Demography and Security

Sciubba et al. interestingly breaks down the components of population and national security, and connects them in unique ways, showing their wide interdependence. Interestingly, this approach to environmental security appears most logical for our immediate organization of the world. In past chapters, many authors recognize the importance of states as the motivators of change, yet are leery to suggests a state focused view of the overall issue of environmental security. These concerns are greatly based off the fear of military dominated solutions. I thought this chapter was a useful in showing that this does not have to be the case, and in fact different facets of security have symbiotic relationships.

The first portion of the chapter that recognizes the shifting perspectives of the power population dynamic was very thorough. In today’s society, few recognize the population requirements for power at the state level because they are overshadowed by other factors. I thought the classification of power for a state as its ability to mobilize was an accurate interpretation. Secondly, the authors mentioned the importance for a positive breakup of demographics (quality) within the population. This section reminded me of my internship this summer in Kosovo, in which I was assigned to create an argument for increased national budget allocations to the pension and health care system for the growing ageing population. Nevertheless, this is quite a difficult task considering the priorities needed for the large youth population (with almost 50% of the population under 25, Kosovo’s demographics are unprecedented in Europe). I thought it was bold that the chapter seemed to favor the United States pension system over many European states’. Lastly, the chapter brought up the much-debated connection between the treatment of women in a society and the society’s security. The chapter did not officially state a position on the subject, but I’m convinced gender demographics and differences play a role in state security, even if not in this exact manner. I think the examples of India and China are worth further investigation.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Population, Development and Environmental Security

Both authors agree on one significant fact: environmental security is a matter of human security. Human security is “relevant for national security, as without the security of individuals and the environment they live in, the state itself is insecure,” (207). Human caused climate change alters the livelihoods of many people, and poorer, developing countries usually suffer the most. Drought and flooding can cause people to migrate to urban, overcrowded cities. Government can fail in its attempt to manage resources such as water. One can argue that both Sciubba et al. and Upreti would concur that population, development, and environmental security go hand in hand. Without proper national governance and development, a country cannot hope to maintain human security, and Sciubba et al. explains that youthful and growing populations, rapid urbanization, or large migration flows often “tax the ability of the state to provide for its inhabitants,” (209).

Demographic challenges occur in states that already have weak governance. This brings to mind Christian Parenti’s example of Somalia as a failed state. Somalia’s government has not functioned for decades and has suffered significantly from internal conflict, underdevelopment, economic decline, poverty, and environmental degradation. Sciubba et al. explains demography is important to intra-state conflict. Underdeveloped countries with high fertility rate and large populations of young people are factors contributing most to the violent conflict due to lack of education and jobs. This is especially true in Somalia, where these opportunities are extremely limited and serves as a major source of tension for Somalia’s youths. Additionally, millions of Somalis have been forced to flee their homes and abandon work as agriculture farmers due to environmental factors such as drought, floods and food shortages, forcing them to migrate towards overcrowded cities or take refuge in different countries entirely.

Somalia unfortunately serves as the perfect illustration of what Sciubba and Upreti try to convey in their chapters. Yet Upreti offers something the previous author did not. He offers eight Millenium Development Goals (MDGs), supported by 189 nations during the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, for nations to adopt to develop appropriately. These include, among others, the eradication of poverty and hunger, achieving universal education and promoting gender equality. Additionally, he also proposes the idea of “social learning” as a means of challenging climate change in developing countries, which refers to “an action-oriented form of learning for dealing with complex problems related to the environment and development,” (226). With these ideas, he hopes countries can develop appropriately to provide human security to their inhabitants.

The ideas of Upreti and Sciubba are interesting and put many factors of environmental security into perspective, especially when looking at real life examples such as Somalia. If I had to write a paper on the topic this week, I think I would want to explore other countries whose environmental security issues are caused by (or at least correlated with) demographic factors, specifically focusing on how youth populations drive violent conflict significantly more so than aged, developed countries.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Environmental security and development

Sciubba et al. concentrate on the effects of population driven by fertility, mortality and migration on national security, which signifies “the ability of states to maintain their independent identity and their functional integrity.” Separating the types of threats imposing on national security into the five groups, such as military, political, environmental, societal, and economic sectors, they examine and analyze each field. Among these five topics, environmental security as human security was the most interesting area because I believe that environment is the most foundational and fundamental element necessary for achieving human security. Through environment, people gain the basic necessities for life, such as food, water and shelter. If these core needs are not met due to environmental insecurity affected by population, their security will be challenged and threatened. Furthermore, this issue will transform into another problem and broaden the scope of threats causing human insecurity. In their text, they state that environment and population are closely interconnected and mutually affect each other. In other word, while environment alters population trends people also change environment. But one thing that people should keep in mind is that humanity cannot live without nature, but nature can live without humanity.   

Through his text, Upreti emphasizes the importance of social education and of developing capacity to adapt to change in order to accomplish environmental security and human security in “holistic and transdisciplinary” manner. Unlike other authors, Upreti provides detailed and realistic solutions to achieve these goals by dealing with governmental and societal roles. Like Harmann’s statement in chapter 11 arguing that “focusing on any one aspect of a state risks missing the bigger picture”, Upreti also highlights a comprehensive approach that involves the various actors related to environment and development. Throughout his research, he mainly covers the cases of global south. He claims that the poor and marginalized people in the global south are more vulnerable to environmental insecurity in macro and micro level. However, I don’t completely agree with his idea of comparing hardships and suffering. No matter what country they live in, poor and less advantaged people in everywhere suffer and have limited access to environmental security. In their psychology, they are the most vulnerable figures undergoing the most terrible and difficult situations.    

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Leave a comment

Environmental Governance

This week’s reading felt like an accumulation from the earlier readings of this semester.We revisited the familiar analogy of spaceship earth, as well as Malthusian theories. Chapter 11 examines the role of the population in terms of power and the important role that demography plays in population trends.  I appreciated learning about Haiti in these two chapters, specifically about the catastrophic convergence Haiti has been dealing with for decades. In the case of Haiti, the military provides human security but it is also responsible for introducing Haiti to the cholera epidemic, which in itself detrimental to human security. During one of my visits to Haiti, I saw a group of Americans giving out solar ovens to residents in suburb of Port-Au Prince. At the time, I thought it was great how people came to Haiti to give out sustainable new technologies. However, as I think about it now, I wonder how many of the people taking these solar ovens had places to live, access to healthcare, clean water, and other basics of human security. I may be stretching this, but I believe it is important to access environmental security in regards to the environment in a case by case manner. If one does not have the ability to survive by means of food, water, national safety, can environmentalist prioritize the earth.

However, Chapter 11 also introduces the notion of environmental security as human security, stating that “human security is relevant for national security, as without the security of individuals and the environment they live in, the state itself is insecure.”  In chapter 12, Upreti argues that environmental governance is the missing key component in achieving environmental security. I particularly agreed and enjoyed Upreti’s definition of environmental governance because it was beyond the environment, and took the conversation away from the usual climate change dooms talk we are used to hearing. Upreti took to aspects of security that have the ability to actually evoke a promising environmental future. Focusing on a core set of values, policies, institutions and procedures in a global sense could set the stage for environmental security discussions in the future.


Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged | Leave a comment

Positive Feedbacks and Negative Externalities

When one considers environmental security, one does not tend to include population, at least in the beginning. Sadly, the affect of population and its growth is not often what first comes to mind. However, the more I think about Sciubba, Lamere, and Dabelko’s chapter, the more I realize that demography and population growth should be at the top of all of our lists. It is true that we are constantly talking about climate change and its human cost, but we hardly think about how people significantly contribute to the security of countries, relative to environmental issues. “…Without the security of individuals and the environment they live in, the state itself is insecure” (207). That is something I believe a lot of people tend to forget, although we do not like to admit it.

Population plays such a significant role in development, especially in the Global South. However, certain feedback loops arise if the Global North does not start making a conscious effort to actually push developing countries in the right direction. One such feedback loop could be in developing countries, extreme poverty has the power to impede development, which results in low access education, public health, and social services, which in turn increases population growth (through unintended fertility and limited health access), which increases stress on the environment and resources as people are struggling for personal survival, which finally pushes more people into poverty as there is a higher demand for jobs and commodities than there are supply. While developing countries are trying to remedy feedbacks such as these, they are more often than not focusing on the economic aspect (i.e. creating jobs, subsidies, taxes, etc.) instead of the real problem, which is environmental insecurity. Furthermore, while these feedback loops are occurring, they are also diminishing countries’ “capacity to adapt to climate change” (210).

As argued in Chapter 11 by Sciubba, Lamere, and Dabelko, it is poverty that is a root cause of limited development. However, in Chapter 12, Upreti argues that it is climate change that impedes sustainable development. It can be inferred that climate change is a factor that contributes to poverty in the Global South, and it [climate change] will only make it worse if left unchecked. Public health, social cohesion, and economic growth will be severely affected by climate change and countries cannot hope to develop, let alone sustainably, if effort to combat climate change is not made on the global scale. If this effort is not made, there is a very real possibility of social conflict.

Furthermore, while not specifically mentioned in the chapters, another significant issue concerning development and population is the distribution disparity of the consequences of climate change. In economics, this is referred to as externalities. In other words, climate change (and pollution) is a negative externality, or a by-product of economic activity in industrialized countries that causes damages to innocent bystanders (i.e. the developing world). Those who will be–and are being–affected by climate change the most are the ones who have hardly contributed to it. The security of individual countries as well as the globe depends on a cohesive strategy to mitigate our changing environment.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Social Learning and Immigration Conflict

Population and National Security and Environmental Security and Sustainable Development both explore the impact humans have on the environment and human security. In their article, Sciubba et. al. state that increasing human population is the cause of civil conflict and violence in a country. They go on to say that humans especially the youth are the ones who create ecological and human insecurity. Upreti, unlike Sciubba et. al. presents a way to approach the issue of ineffective development policies that damage the environment. To Upreti sustainable development means people from different academic disciplines and opinions coming to an agreement that would create effective development and in turn also help the environment. He proposes that social learning can the answer to climate change especially in developing countries.

The idea of “ social learning” is intriguing. Last week we spoke about education being the answer to de-securitizing environmental issues. Upreti really drove that point home to me. If people are given the chance observe and learn from one another what is happening to their immediate environment they can fix their current practices. It would effectively solve the years of unsustainable development, especially in developing nations. This chapter reminded me of when I was in Panama a couple years ago. I kept seeing patches of burned land and locals burning their trash. When I asked why farmers burned the land the guide said that is the only way they know how to farm. There are non-profit groups that come into Panama and encourage the people to become active in caring for their environment, and making them realize that the land will not be fertile after it is burned. Upreti’s approach puts the responsibility back in the hands of the people in that community and encourages dialogue among all actors unlike an international organization entering the country without addressing the underlying issue of development in that country. The people can have all the help to develop but if their land stops being fertile and water is scarce the effort put into that development plan was for nothing. Educating citizens and creating an environment where people who have different perspectives can bring about positive change.            Sciubba et. al. indicated that with an increasing population comes desertification and the decrease of grazing land causes people migrate. I found this almost comical because the section pointed out that the United States and Canada have escaped the elderly curse on the economy because of immigrants. Much of what we see in the media and with one of the presidential candidate’s immigrants are unwanted and viewed to be “free-riders” to society, yet they are giving the country

Sciubba et. al. indicated that with an increasing population comes desertification and the decrease of grazing land causes people migrate. I found this almost comical because the section pointed out that the United States and Canada have escaped the elderly curse on the economy because of immigrants. Much of what we see in the media and with one of the presidential candidate’s immigrants are unwanted and viewed to be “free-riders” to society, yet they are giving the country a  way to counteract the ever-growing aging population. We see in the media how the U.S and European countries are in conflict with their immigrant population.

If I had to write a research paper on a topic this week, it would be in the role the environment plays in immigration influxes in the United States.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cameroonian Sustainable Development

During my study abroad experience last Spring, I felt as though I had an unfortunate opportunity to glimpse the negative effects of unsustainable development in Cameroon. Many of Upreti’s points about unsustainable development echo the North/South (or West/East) inequality discourses that focus on global, Western powers creating systems permissive of (and often promotional of) unsustainable development, both environmentally and economically. Several points about conflict, tensions, urbanization, and other demographic issues, however brought home the points made in Chapter 11 on the importance of population in state conflicts.

The “good governance” that Upreti advocates can look out for the environment is impossible in the internationally-controlled development employed throughout so much of the world. Such structural adjustment with the egregious effects of deforestation, etc. permits civil wars and violent conflicts when they environmental fallout is felt by the population (222). Poor people being vulnerable to the environment is not limited to the Global South and developing countries, but very much exists in the U.S. The difference falls in the role of the U.S. and other international powers in causing such destruction like deforestation and poor water management. Much of the Cameroonian rainforest has been destroyed for its wood which builds houses in America and the West. Cameroonians may work as loggers for companies that pay little because they are vulnerable as poor people and the government has permitted land-grabbing which effectively transports resources to the West at little cost.

To repel this sort of environmental aggravation, Sciubba et. al.’s population argument becomes relevant. Social learning as explained by Upreti (226) reviews the merits of teaching populations how to live and work sustainably. Going back to Cameroon, most demographics within the population littered. The lack of good governance and teaching environmental prioritization prevented this lesson from being taught which results in burning trash. A constructivist approach with multiple realities could facilitate relevant teaching mechanisms to counter unsustainable behavior. Organskik’s power transition theory posits that as population size, productivity, and political capacity comprise state power, shifting priorities could counteract “bad governance” and while the Biya administration continues to permit land grabs and IMF programs, the population itself could promote sustainable development.

One example of such bottom-up sustainable development is exemplified by Breaking Ground, a Cameroon-based American NGO that works primarily to finish development projects that local communities have already started and in many cases have been working on for years. A community determines a need, raises as much money as possible and works on the project until this NGO catches wind of the situation and steps in to finish. Instead of cutting down trees for an American company, Breaking Ground uses community members to build capacity (in leading and constructing a project) and only works on projects previously determined to be necessary to a community. Demographic shifts that teach such sustainable development leads to more political capacity, and in turn shifts the power to the people.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Reframing Population, Environment, and Security for a Pluralistic World

The two chapters by Sciubba et al. and Upreti both serve to deconstruct basic concepts of environmental and human security and categorically reframe them. Sciubba et al defines population as the changes in fertility, mortality, and migration (Page 201) and separates human security into five sectors: military, political, environmental, societal and economic. Throughout her chapter, Sciubba analyzes how these numerous facets of population and security interact with the environment; according to the author, the tension between these three factors is the core of environmental security studies. To this end, Sciubaa argues for a broader lens when examining the causes of conflict, particularly in environmentally sensitive or poverty-stricken regions. Only when we “zoom out” to see the bigger picture, the “Blue Marble” so to speak, can we identify the connections between population, security, and the environment.

In Upreti’s chapter, he reframes the governance structures currently addressing climate change, most notably the United Nations and other large NGOs. He lays out the differences between holistic and reductionist approaches to solving environmental security problems. In addition, he includes perspectives of constructivism and objectivism to most clearly describe the landscape of institutional rationale. He ultimately argues for a pluralist school of thought or “holistic and transdisciplinary approach that involves diverse actors engaged in the environment” (Page 231) so that all angles of environmental security: sustainability, development, conflict, and more can be fully represented in the creation of policies and strategies for mitigating the consequences and causes of environmental insecurity.

A topic that particularly interested me in these chapters was that of the relationship between the population trends, the environment and crime, as brought up in Sciubba et al in the case of Haiti. (page 211) Sciubba describes that as the vast majority of Haiti’s population is under 30, and its governance is weak, pickings are ripe for gangs in cities, especially as urbanization increases at a rapid rate. This unchecked environmental change, combined with the vacuum left by no discernible force of law and few options for employment, creates a need for informal power structures which in areas of extreme poverty must take on at least some degree of criminal activity, just to survive and support each other and the community. Without political security, the population and the environment are not properly managed. This in turn relates to Upreti’s concepts of “social interdependence of the environment and people” (Page 229) and the impact of legal pluralism on a culture and its environment. In Haiti, for example, while few national laws effectively govern or control its growing urban populations, international laws related to military involvement affect how the United States modifies its presence in the country, and local rules or boundaries established by gangs affect how a city is divided and what sort of business or activity can take place in those areas.

Posted in Demography and Development -- Week 6 | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment