For many readers, the concept of "environmental security," or the integration of environmental issues and national security considerations at a national policy level, may well be novel. It may even appear somewhat oxymoronic. It is, in fact, neither. Rather, it reflects recent history and trends, and the significant evolution of our knowledge of both fields. This is not to say that the concept is well understood--as the papers in this volume illustrate, that is a work in progress--or, for that matter, that the concept is even universally accepted as valid. There are those in both the environmentalist and security communities who view such integration with deep skepticism, even alarm. More broadly, however, it can be argued that the debate about the validity and meaning of environmental security is a part of, and a reflection of, a number of basic trends that, taken together, mark this post-Cold War period as one of fundamental change. It may therefore be useful to explore this broader landscape within which the integration of previously disparate policy areas may be (is?) occurring, and at least alert the reader to some of the developments in the environmental and national security policy arenas. Hopefully, this discussion will provide a context within which the following papers and reference material can be more easily understood.
Environmental Threats and National Security: An International Challenge to Science and Technology: Proceedings from the Workshop at Monterey, California, December 1996