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Climate Change and Environmental Security: Bringing Realism Back In

18 Pages Posted: 23 Oct 2010  

Joshua Chad Gellers

University of North Florida

Date Written: February 20, 2010


In international relations theory literature, realist scholars maintain a traditional view of security based on fear and the attainment of survival through power maximization in an anarchic world, achieved exclusively through military prowess. Liberal scholars of international relations contend that the realist conception of security is unnecessarily limited, and call for the broadening of security to include concerns such as economic security, human security, and environmental security. However, is realism inherently incompatible with the concept of environmental security? I argue that by stretching the conceptual limits of realism it becomes possible to account for security concerns related to the environment and climate change. In this paper I seek to incorporate environmental security into the broader framework of realism by analyzing the extent to which environmental problems pose a threat to the survival of major states. I conclude by calling for the development of a grand conceptual approach to environmental security and more empirical research to be conducted on issues that exist at the nexus between security and the environment.

Keywords: International Relations Theory, Environmental Security, Climate Change, Realism

Suggested Citation

Gellers, Joshua Chad, Climate Change and Environmental Security: Bringing Realism Back In (February 20, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Joshua Gellers (Contact Author)

University of North Florida ( email )

1 UNF Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32224-2645
United States
9046202849 (Phone)


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