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.

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