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States and Nature
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Book description

Under what circumstances might climate change lead to negative security outcomes? Over the past fifteen years, a rapidly growing applied field and research community on climate security has emerged. While much progress has been made, we still don't have a clear understanding of why climate change might lead to violent conflict or humanitarian emergencies in some places and not others. Busby develops a novel argument – based on the combination of state capacity, political exclusion, and international assistance – to explain why climate leads to especially bad security outcomes in some places but not others. This argument is then demonstrated through application to case studies from sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia. This book will provide an informative resource for students and scholars of international relations and environmental studies, especially those working on security, conflict and climate change, on the emergent practice and study of this topic, and identifies where policy and research should be headed.


‘This clearly argued text moves the field of climate security ahead by a careful analysis of some key cases that link environmental disruptions and disasters to political outcomes. A notable achievement of scholarly synthesis that should be widely read by practitioners and scholars grappling with this increasingly important cluster of policy issues.'

Simon Dalby - Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University

'States and Nature is an important contribution to growing literature on climate change and security. Joshua Busby offers a compelling theoretical framework for thinking about how state capacity, political inclusion, and international assistance interact to determine whether climate-driven shocks are likely to lead to large-scale suffering and conflict. He also advances a valuable approach to bringing case study evidence to bear on this topic through the careful comparison of neighboring countries that experienced similar climatic events but different security outcomes. This book should be of great interest to students, researchers, and policymakers who care about the security implications of a warming world.'

Kenneth Schultz - Professor, Department of Political Science, Stanford University

'Joshua Busby provides an invaluable, state-of-the-art assessment of the causal links between climate change and national and human security. With extraordinary scientific skill and deep knowledge of the now vast literature on environmental security, he assesses the field’s theoretical, empirical, and methodological disputes and identifies a subset of variables that explains when climate change is likely to lead security crises. He supports his argument with in-depth analysis of key cases – including the Syrian civil war – that have been at the center of expert debate. Accessible to scholars and general readers alike, States and Nature will become a standard reference in the rapidly evolving conversation about how the climate crisis affects human well-being.'

Thomas Homer-Dixon - PhD, Director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University

'In States and Nature, Busby demonstrates the need for a wider lens when evaluating climate change’s impacts on security. Going beyond the exclusive focus on violent conflict leads both scholars and practitioners to a more dynamic and realistic picture of the full climate security agenda. This more inclusive inquiry provides a foundation for more robust response to climate’s myriad security challenges.'

Geoff Dabelko - Professor and Associate Dean at Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, Ohio University

'The effects of climate change include serious, multi-pronged consequences for societies and governments. Professor Busby forensically examines these effects and their impact on peace and human security, showing the circumstances in which and the routes along which they lead to violence. Sticking to the evidence, he clears away a lot of misunderstandings and conceptual confusions in both scholarly and political discussion about the relationship between climate change and insecurity. The book is a major achievement and a major aid to clarity on these complex questions.'

Dan Smith - Director, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

'The intensifying hazards of a changing climate – whether floods, droughts, or fires – can lead to humanitarian emergencies and conflict, but these outcome are far from inevitable. What happens following a climate shock depends strongly on governance, institutions, and aid. In States and Nature, Joshua Busby presents a powerful and innovative critique of what we know about climate and security as the planet continues to warm. Through gripping, balanced examples within and across countries, he reframes current understanding towards maximum insight and actionable entry points. This book is a must-read for scholars and practitioners alike.'

Katharine J. Mach - Associate Professor, University of Miami Rosenstiel School

'Josh Busby’s book is a 'must-read' for all climate-security practitioners and scholars, offering a new and inclusive paradigm to both explain the connections between climate and security, and provide policy practitioners actionable guidance to reduce future climate risk. Busby moves the climate security field forward by cogently explaining the history of climate security scholarship and providing a refined methodology for assessing and comparing climate security risk across countries and cases.'

Sherri Goodman - Former Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Environmental Security)

'Joshua Busby offers one of the best and most insightful qualitative analysis on the security implications of climate change, which is analytically sound and practically useful. Scholars and practitioners will find the book to be of great interest and value.'

Vally Koubi - Professor, Center for Comparative and International Studies (CIS), ETH Zurich

‘…easily the best and most up-to-date survey of the subject available. It is the book I wish I could have written.’

Jeffrey Mazo Source: Environment and Resources

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  • 1 - Introduction
    pp 1-18


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