Think 1

The theorization of Environmental Security, from these chapters, may not be diverse in scope, but attracts contradictions of core ideas that frustrate a simple discourse. Rita Floyd’s four debates defining contemporary ESS allow for depth of engaging with the topic and provide questions that can either open up or close the topic. For example, the second debate questions the definition of security. Does security just refer to violent conflict or does it go broader (“freedom from want”)? While she acknowledged the traditional and non-traditional understanding of “security”, how can political/international/relevant/economic environmental issues be limited to “violent conflict” in reference to security. While this idea is addressed in many peoples’ interest in ESS deriving only from the potential for violent conflict, many of the issues are so indirectly associated with violent conflict that the pertinence of violence is barely more than a motivation technique to implicate the uninterested.


Why spend time on this subject when the next chapter deals with the Resource Curse, a phenomenon likely to lead to violence or international conflict as seen in Venezuela, but not an immediate violent security threat. The newness of the discipline and its lack of authoritative voices that agree on basic ideals frustrates a core understanding of the subject. That said, this conundrum emphasizes the importance and urgency of the subject. While “science” says that we must act immediately to mitigate environmental damages, how can we be sure of anything without decades of scholars telling us we’re on the right page? (Floyd would understand that I am not a poststructuralist.)


From the readings, I understand the “dysfunction” to derive from the morality inherent to so many issues in Environmental Security. For example, Soysa’s discussion of globalization as the positive alternative to developing rentier states contradicts much of my impressions of the World Bank and IMF meddling in developing economies to benefit Global North countries. In my prior critiques of development studies, globalization is a happy ideal that rarely works in favor of the common people. Soysa’s explanation of the resource curse brings in the International Relations and International Political Economy disciplines moreso than the theoretical, scientific, or methodological explanations employed by Floyd and Derigiannis. While the chapter explains the phenomenon, the methods which examine relevant case studies and schools of thought behind them create the background literature for ESS. To bolster an oft divided discourse on Environmental Security then, the various methods of analyzing and views of securities can continue to come together to create a complex quilt of this dire topic.

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