In “Chaotic Climate Change and Security
,” published in the June issue of International Political Sociology, Maximilian Mayer traces the transformation of climate change from a long-term problem to something that has taken on a new urgency in recent years. Understanding the non-linear nature
of climate change – the “abrupt changes” that can come as environmental thresholds are crossed – has led to the securitization
of the environment, writes Mayer. Unfortunately, the “doomsday rhetoric of scientists and campaigners about ‘tipping points’ has apparently failed to spur governments
toward negotiating a meaningful agreement.” Climate change skepticism
still exists, he points out, and even those who are convinced of the potential negative impacts of environmental change on state security have failed to reverse detrimental actions, choosing instead to focus on ameliorating the effects of change on their individual states. As a replacement for these failed frameworks, Mayer suggests that actor-network theory
should be used as it better accounts for the interconnected nature of climate change.
Katherine Houghton discusses the relationship between climate change and resilience in her article “Climate Change in Fragile States: Adaptation as Reinforcement of the Fabric of the State,” published in a collection of articles written by members of the United Nations University Summer Academy. Houghton writes that in fragile states, environmental issues can be “compounded by armed conflict and institutional failure,” which further destabilizes the country. She mentions cases in which the state lacks the authority to properly assist its citizens following natural disasters, like the flooding of the Indus Valley in Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In these cases, failure of the government to meet citizens’ needs “fuels instability and fragility rather than fosters resilience.” Any action to reduce the effects of climate change on residents of vulnerable areas must thus begin with the state, she writes. “Without effective action to strengthen the state and thereby enable adaptation, climate-induced adverse effects and extreme events may lead to the further destabilization of already fragile states.”