Although well entrenched in the lexicon of international security studies, it is remarkable how loosely the term environmental security is often applied and how much confusion still exists about its precise meaning. The range of subjects which have at one time or another been either conceptually or operationally located in the environmental security basket are bewildering in their diversity. They include acid rain, agricultural yields, biodiversity, counterterrorism, deforestation, economic competitiveness, failed states, flooding, fossil fuels, greenhouse warming, hazardous waste, infectious diseases, refugees, illegal migration, oil crises, overpopulation, poverty, soil degradation, sustainable development, trans-boundary pollution, urbanisation and vector-borne diseases. 1 This list is far from exhaustive.
A close examination of the literature reveals that there are, in fact, three distinct sub-schools of thought and activities, which fit within the rubric of environmental security. The first of these, and the one most commonly embraced by national security establishments, focuses on the use of national defence forces and military assets to monitor environmental change and to assist in protecting or rejuvenating the environment. 2 The second, the dark side of the force, is environmental warfare—the explicit targeting of an adversary's resources or physical environment aimed at degrading or destroying his capacity to prosecute war. 3
A third category, and the one on which this chapter focuses, concerns itself with how human-induced environmental degradation foments violent conflict.