Thomas F. Homer-Dixon is an Assistant Professor at University College, University of Toronto, and Coordinator of the College's Peace and Conflict Studies Program. He is co-director of an international research project on Environmental Change and Acute Conflict sponsored jointly by his Program and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
This article is an abridged version of a paper prepared for the Global Environmental Change Committee of the Social Science Research Council and for a conference on "Emerging Trends in Global Security" convened by York University in October, 1990. The full paper is available from the author. Portions have appeared in "Environmental Change and Economic Decline in Developing Countries," International Studies Notes, Vol. 16, No. 1 (Winter 1991), pp. 18-23; "Environmental Change and Human Security," Behind the Headlines, Vol. 48, No. 3 (Toronto: Canadian Institute for International Affairs, 1991); and "Environmental Change and Violent Conflict," American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Occasional Paper No. 4 (June 1990). For their helpful comments, the author is grateful to Peter Cebon, William Clark, Daniel Deudney, Darya Farha, Peter Gleick, Ernst Haas, Fen Hampson, Roger Karapin, Jill Lazenby, Vicki Norberg-Bohm, Ted Parson, George Rathjens, James Risbey, Richard Rockwell, Thomas Schelling, Eugene Skolnikoff, Martha Snodgrass, Janice Stein, Urs Thomas, Myron Weiner, and Jane Willms. Financial support for research and writing was received from The Royal Society of Canada, the Donner Canadian Foundation, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
1. See, for example, Janet Welsh Brown, ed., In the U.S. Interest: Resources, Growth, and Security in the Developing World (Boulder, Colo.: Westview, 1990); Neville Brown, "Climate, Ecology and International Security," Survival, Vol. 31, No. 6 (November/December 1989), pp. 519-532; Peter Gleick, "Climate Change and International Politics: Problems Facing Developing Countries," Ambio, Vol. 18, No. 6 (1989), pp. 333-339; Gleick, "The Implications of Global Climatic Changes for International Security," Climatic Change, Vol. 15, No. 1/2 (October 1989), pp. 309-325; Ronnie Lipschutz and John Holdren, "Crossing Borders: Resource Flows, the Global Environment, and International Security," Bulletin of Peace Proposals, Vol. 21, No. 2 (June 1990), pp. 121-33; Jessica Tuchman Mathews, "Redefining Security," Foreign Affairs, Vol. 68, No. 2 (Spring 1989), pp. 162-177; Norman Myers, "Environment and Security," Foreign Policy, No. 74 (Spring 1989), pp. 23-41; Michael Renner, National Security: The Economic and Environmental Dimensions, Worldwatch Paper No. 89 (Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1989); and Arthur Westing, ed., Global Resources and International Conflict: Environmental Factors in Strategic Policy and Action (Oxford: New York, 1986). For a skeptical perspective, see Daniel Deudney, "The Case Against Linking Environmental Degradation and National Security," Millennium, Vol. 19, No. 3 (Winter 1990), pp. 461-476.
2. Readers interested in a careful argument for an expanded notion of security that includes environmental threats to national well-being should see Richard Ullman, "Redefining Security," International Security, Vol. 8, No. 1 (Summer 1983), esp. pp. 133 and 143.
3. For example, see David Wirth, "Climate Chaos," Foreign Policy, No. 74 (Spring 1989), p. 10.
4. Robert Heilbroner, An Inquiry into the Human Prospect (New York: Norton, 1980), pp. 39 and 95; William Ophuls, Ecology and the Politics of Scarcity: A Prologue to a Political Theory of the Steady State (San Francisco: Freeman, 1977), pp. 214-217.
5. Fen Hampson, "The Climate for War," Peace and Security, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Autumn 1988), p. 9.
6. Jodi Jacobson, Environmental Refugees: A Yardstick of Habitability, Worldwatch Paper No. 86 (Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute, 1988).
7. Peter Gleick, "Climate Change," p. 336; Malin Falkenmark, "Fresh Waters as a Factor in Strategic Policy and Action," in Westing, Global Resources, pp. 85-113.
8. Peter Wallensteen, "Food Crops as a Factor in Strategic Policy and Action," Westing, Global Resources, pp. 151-155.
9. Ibid., p. 146-151.
10. Ted Gurr, "On the Political Consequences of Scarcity and Economic Decline," International Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 1 (March 1985), pp. 51-75.
11. "The disappearance of ecological abundance seems bound to make international politics even more tension ridden and potentially violent than it already is. Indeed, the pressures of ecological scarcity may embroil the world in hopeless strife...