Podcast: Security, Ecology and Climate Change

There is increasing recognition in scholarship on the relationship between environmental change and security that the way this relationship is understood varies significantly. These varied environmental security discourses have different conceptions of the nature of the threat posed, but most importantly encourage vastly different policy responses. With regard the issue of climate change, for example, these responses range from national adaptation strategies to globally-oriented mitigation action. Given these differences, it becomes important not simply to outline differences but also to consider whether we can identify progressive security discourses: discourses underpinned by defensible ethical assumptions and encouraging effective practical responses to environmental change. Here, and focusing on the example of climate change, I make a case for an ecological security discourse. Such a discourse orients towards ecosystem resilience and the rights and needs of the most vulnerable across space (populations of developing worlds), time (future generations) and species (other living beings). Such a discourse is both morally more defensible than other security discourses and most likely to encourage practices oriented towards redressing the problem of climate change itself, though its embrace and implementation of course faces profound practical and epistemological challenges.

Speaker: Dr Matt McDonald (University of Queensland)

Associate Professor Matt McDonald is Reader in International Relations in the School of Political Science and International Studies at the University of Queensland, Australia. He has previously worked at the University of New South Wales, the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick. His research interests are in the area of critical theoretical approaches to security and their application to issues such as environmental change, Asia-Pacific security dynamics and (Australian) foreign and security policy. He has published on these themes in a range of journals, is the author of Security, the Environment and Emancipation (Routledge, 2012), co-author (with Anthony Burke and Katrina Lee-Koo) of Ethics and Global Security (Routledge, 2014) and co-editor (with Anthony Burke) of Critical Security in the Asia-Pacific (Manchester UP, 2007).

Download the transcript for this podcast here (PDF - 183KB).
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