Review: Global Environmental Change and Human Security

Article excerpt

Review: Global Environmental Change and Human Security By Matthew, Richard A., Barnett, Jon, McDonald, Bryan and L. O'Brien, Karen (Eds.) Matthew, Richard A., Barnett, Jon, McDonald, Bryan and L. O'Brien, Karen (Eds.). Global Environmental Change and Human Security. Cambridge, Massachusetts & London, England. The MIT Press, 2010. 328 pp. ISBN 978-0-262-51308-1. paperback alk. paper US $25.00/£18.95.

This book is not for those who want easy answers to the relationship between global environmental change and human security. We can though also ask ourselves whether such answers even exists, when already global environmental change refers not only to climate change, but also to several other interconnected issues such as biodiversity loss, destruction of stratospheric ozone layer, depletion of freshwater sources, impairment of food-producing ecosystems and worldwide dissemination of various chemicals and heavy metals. Human security again is defined: "...as something that is achieved when and where individuals and communities have the options necessary to end, mitigate, or adapt to threats to their human, environmental, and social rights; have the capacity and freedom to exercise these options; and actively participate in pursuing these options" (p. 18).

For those with patience enough this book gives a detailed examination of the complex social, health, and economic consequences of environmental change across the globe. In the introductory chapter the editors of the book trace the evolution of recent thinking about the relationship between people, the environment and security towards an increasing recognition that there are a wider range of risks to the sovereign integrity of the state than just that of military invasion. In the following fourteen chapters the consequences of environmental change are examined at different scales and in different places from the vulnerability of urban dwellers to the decade-long Nepalese civil war and from a case study of Hurricane Katrina to the relationship between sustainable economic development and democracy.

We learn the importance of preventive measures as opposed to reactive efforts in wide ranging issues like human health and global environmental problems like climate change. …