Defining Security and Exploring its Challenges

This week’s reading focuses on topics that I have not yet considered in my discussions of environmental security. Pirages explores environmental security in two major sections, through human security and ecological security. As the we enter an era of increased globalization, we as a society should begin addressing the “non-conventional” security challenges.It was very helpful to view variations in the definitions of human and ecological security. According to the United Nations, security is first the safety from chronic threats to well-being such as hunger, disease, and repression and secondly from harmful human security. This shows that they are mainly concerned with the welfare of humans. Pirages also begins to identify and label humans as homo sapiens, which I really found useful. It forces us to look past ourselves and realize that we are a species too, sharing space and resources on this earth. Should environmental security favor homo sapiens? The notion that thus us a homo sapiens security, where one’s race, age, sex, gender, and nationality does not determine your security availability. Ecological security is defined as the maintenance of dynamic equilibria relationships among human societies and the ecosystems in which they are impacted by. In this chapter, we also explore the implications surrounding insecurity. When homo sapiens attempt to prevent insecurity by ridding of pathogens or pests, it can further exacerbate the problem. Instead of going on a “scorched earth campaign”, homo sapiens should try to understand the factors that cause these harmful plagues to form and spread. Ecological security could be enhanced through better understanding of the relationships between people and pathogens as well as implementing and creating a better policy surrounding the spread of disease.

I was also particularly interested in the natures challenges section of the chapter. It reminded me of the many stories I encountered in Iceland. Iceland is an interesting country because the people that dwell there are living in constant state of insecurity because the heavy volcanism in the region. Of course, as technology has advanced, the risk total doom has gone down. For my senior project, I am working on volcanic deposits associated with the Laki eruption of 1784. This eruption lasted for 8 months, blocked the sun, caused acid rain that poisoned livestock, and destroyed several towns. This eruption is also said to have lead in the horrible conditions that influenced the French Revolution. I was interested in how the equilibrium between humans and their physical environment is difficult and almost impossible to ever understand. In this case, will we ever truly be ecologically secure? In the following chapter, Detraz looks into the implications surrounding how gender can be added into the discourse of environmental security. I believe this chapter is helpful because it plays into the way policy surrounding environmental security is discussed.

In Parenti’s Tropic of Chaos, he takes us through several examples of the political warfare and violence while unpacking the catastrophic convergence. He also unfolds the role that colonialism played on countries in Africa and Asia. We explore and unravel failed states within the region and the various forms of insecurities behind them. I find it very helpful to read the Floyd and Mathews reading prior to the Parenti reading, however, this also steers the direction of my think piece. The two books work very well together because Floyd and Mathews introduces the themes and theories that are presented in real life examples in the Tropic of Chaos.






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