Climatic Change

, Volume 15, Issue 1, pp 309-325

First online:

The implications of global climatic changes for international security

  • Peter H. GleickAffiliated withPacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security

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Global climatic changes caused by growing concentrations of atmospheric trace gases have the potential to alter international relationships, economics, behavior, and security. While there is debate about the extent to which environmental problems alone can lead to conflict, it is widely acknowledged that resource constraints can act as roots leading to economic pressures and tensions, or as triggers to conflict when other pressures and tensions exist between states. Recent widespread attention to the issue of global environmental problems, particularly climatic change, is leading to a re-examination and expansion of the traditional narrow definition of “international security”. This paper discusses likely paths to international frictions and tensions and the responses that might be most appropriate to minimize the adverse consequences of climatic change for international security.