Environment and human security

Little, Laura, and Cocklin, Chris (2007) Environment and human security. In: Pretty, Jules, Ball, Andrew S., Benton, Ted, Guivant, Julia S., Lee, David R., Orr, David, Pfeffer, Max J., and Ward, Hugh, (eds.) Sage Handbook of Environment and Society. Sage, UK, pp. 442-456.

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Our conceptions of the relationship between humans and the environment fundamentally shape the way people use, interact with and respond to nature. Since the Enlightenment, the dominant Western conception of this relationship has been One of sharp division between human societies and the natural environment. Human systems, such as economics and politics, have been viewed as separate and distinct from the natural environment, and social constructions of the human/environment relationship have stressed the rightness and capacity of human beings to gain mastery over nature (Hargrove, 1989; Pepper, 1996). O'Riordan (1976) described this as technocentricism.

With the growing awareness of global environmental degradation, there have been criticisms of these dominant ideas and efforts to rethink the human society/environment relationship. Much of this rethinking has involved the many and contested notions of 'sustainable development' (Barnett, 2001; Robinson, 2004). While consensual definitions remain elusive (Cocklin, 1995), discourses of sustainable development have shared, amongst other things, a greater recognition and understanding of the interdependence of human societies and the natural environment. Complementary, but lesser known discourses that have emerged are concerned with the nexus between environment and security.

This chapter explores these latter discourses, providing background to the environment and security debate and outlining the various perspectives that have emerged. Given that concepts of 'sustainable development' remain dominant in much of environmental discourse, we ask the question: What can the viewing of environmental issues through the lens of 'security' contribute to our understanding of the relationship between human societies and the natural environment?

Item ID: 4996
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-1-4129-1843-5
Keywords: environmental change; human security
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2009 05:55
FoR Codes: 12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning @ 33%
05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management @ 33%
07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0701 Agriculture, Land and Farm Management @ 34%
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