Rethinking Geopolitics: Climate Security in the Anthropocene

Rethinking Geopolitics: Climate Security in the Anthropocene

Climate change has become a matter of security in recent policy discussions. The scale of the transformations we are living through is slowly dawning on policy makers. But the implications for both security and policy making in general of our new geological conditions, our living in the new geological epoch of the Anthropocene, have yet to be thought through carefully. The basic geopolitical premises in security thinking are now in need of a radical overhaul in light of the insights from Earth system science. Simplistic assumptions of environmental change leading directly to conflict are misleading at best and dangerous at worst. Climate security discussions now have to engage directly with global environmental change and with Earth systems science in particular. Climate security in the long run is not a matter of environmental change causing political difficulties, but rather a matter of contemporary political difficulties causing accelerating climate change. Climate change is a production problem, not one that can be managed in the terms of traditional environmental thinking; security thinking needs to focus on the implications of this rethinking of traditional geopolitical assumptions.

Policy Implications

  • Climate security has to be thought through in terms of the new geological circumstances of the Anthropocene.
  • Recognizing that we are making future environments is now key to the new geopolitics. We are literally shaping the future; business leaders and politicians now need to act on that premise.
  • The new geopolitics is about what kind of world we are making; economies that don’t further destabilize the climate are key to future security for all.
  • The new geopolitics is about what kind of world we are making; economies that don’t further destabilize the climate are key to future security for all.
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