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Environmental, Health and Resource Geopolitics. Environmental Determinism Chernobyl and environments beyond borders Oil and Resource Wars Food scares.

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Presentation on theme: "Environmental, Health and Resource Geopolitics. Environmental Determinism Chernobyl and environments beyond borders Oil and Resource Wars Food scares."— Presentation transcript:

1 Environmental, Health and Resource Geopolitics

2 Environmental Determinism Chernobyl and environments beyond borders Oil and Resource Wars Food scares Infectious diseases Climate Change Global South

3 Environmental Determinism 1890s Geopolitics 1990s-2000s Environmental Geopolitics Physical differences cause economic and political differences, i.e. with development or, environmental problems are the direct result of simply understood political or economic phenomena (i.e. capitalism)

4 Since World War Two shift to recognise human impact on earth But discussed as major topic only relatively recently (c25 years) 1940s- present nuclear weapon testing 1963 atmospheric test ban treaty Pesticides Mercury poisoning Oil spills – Exxon Valdez in Alaska. March 24, 1989, 11m gallons

5 Chernobyl April 26, 1986 at 01:23 a.m Steam explosion that resulted in a nuclear meltdown, a series of additional explosions, and a fire Fire and rescue workers not warned about dangers 237 people with acute radiation sickness

6 Chernobyl May 12 th 1986 contamination cloud First reports came from Finland and Sweden, where radiation was detected at a nuclear plant that had not leaked. The Chernobyl Forum estimated 4000 deaths, plus up to 9000 extra predicted from cancer; other put this much higher – 30-60,000 by alternative report; 200,000 in Greenpeace study


8 Beyond borders Environmental hazards produced in one state but felt in another – acid rain, polluted air, or rivers Environmental side effects of other processes (economic, political etc.) Ozone layer depletion, CFCs

9 Beyond Sovereign Territory ‘Global warming’ (climate change) Nuclear and biochemical weapons and accidents ‘nuclear-free zones’ Over-fishing Genetically modified foods imported “Dangers from ‘over there’ are now potentially ‘in here’” (Simon Dalby)

10 Military security Gulf War syndrome (1991-) Anthrax (2001) Disposal of nuclear weapons in USSR and elsewhere –More general issues of disposal of nuclear fuel anywhere, and other toxic waste Deliberate sabotage –Jan 23 1991, Iraq opened oil terminal and dumped oil in Gulf –Burning oil wells in Kuwait

11 Oil Oil crisis of 1973 Oil embargo of OPEC Manipulation of prices Iranian revolution 1979 Carter doctrine Gulf War 1991 War in Iraq 2003

12 ‘How did our oil get under their sands?’ ‘No blood for oil’ Peak Oil National Energy Policy (The Cheney Report) May 2001 –Didn’t stress conservation or renewable energy –Domestic oil production in decline so lead to more imports (from which areas?) –US energy independence (i.e. exploit resources in Alaskan National Wildlife Reserve)

13 Flows of wealth Resource rich countries New elites Wider disparities between rich and poor Low social indicators, tendency to be authoritarian, corrupt, ineffective, prioritise military expenditure and more likely to be involved in conflict (Philippe le Billon)

14 Materiality and illicit economies Minerals hard to extract, easy to smuggle Illegal logging of trees for timber Drug trade –Colombia –Afghanistan Oil

15 Resource Wars Michael Klare, Resource Wars (2001) and Blood and Oil (2004) Philippe de Billon, Fuelling War: Natural Resources and Armed Conflict (2005) Oil ‘conflict diamonds’ Agriculture


17 Spratly Islands


19 Caspian Sea



22 esources/ibru/arctic.pd f esources/ibru/south_at lantic_maritime_claims.pdf

23 Food Scares Genetically modified foods (GM foods) Fertilisers and pesticides vs. ‘organic’ BSE – animals eating parts of other animals Foot and mouth

24 Farm subsidies European Union Common Agricultural Policy –Shift from smaller family farms to ‘agri- business’

25 Infectious diseases Bird flu SARS HIV/AIDS –5-6000 people die a day –two thirds in sub Saharan Africa






31 Four geopolitical themes 1.Porous borders; closing borders 2.Transport networks – flights (closing, who flies), roads 3.Militarisation of aid response 4.Logistics

32 Climate Change May produce warming, but also cooling Sea level rise Gulf stream Kyoto Emissions trading Carbon off-setting

33 Kyoto Kyoto Protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Dec 12 th 1997, in force Feb 16 th 2005


35 Press Release "The Kyoto Protocol is an agreement under which industrialised countries will reduce their collective emissions of greenhouse gases by 5.2% compared to the year 1990 (but note that, compared to the emissions levels that would be expected by 2010 without the Protocol, this limitation represents a 29% cut). The goal is to lower overall emissions of six greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, sulfur hexafluoride, HFCs, and PFCs - calculated as an average over the five-year period of 2008-12. National limitations range from 8% reductions for the European Union and some others to 7% for the US, 6% for Japan, 0% for Russia, and permitted increases of 8% for Australia and 10% for Iceland."

36 Common but differentiated responsibilities Developed countries originated the problem (industrial revolution) Developing countries still relatively low in terms of emissions (per head) Share of emissions allowed should reflect development Therefore China and India largely exempt


38 Scepticism and Inaction It isn’t happening It is, but humans didn’t cause it Humans caused it, but we can’t do anything What we do doesn’t matter – look at China and India…

39 The Day After Tomorrow… Environmental catastrophe North becomes uninhabitable Mass migration to the south

40 The Rise of China Economic liberal reforms without political reforms (compare to USSR) 10% growth per year since 1991 –Produces half world’s toys; two thirds of shoes and most of its bicycles and power tools –Most of the US flags bought after September 11 th manufactured in China Predicted to outstrip US economy

41 Environmental and social costs Poor employment rights Water shortages Environmental degradation Human rights –Tibet and Xinjiang province –legacy of Tiananmen square (1991)


43 ‘Global South’ Issues Industrialisation and attendant costs of lower emissions etc. Deforestation and CO 2 Population growth Impact of North on South

44 Moral issues High consumption vs. poverty and famine ‘the polluter pays’ Duty to future generations

45 The production of the Third World Decolonization Cold War Struggles Development and Neoliberalism Migration The Rise of China The End of the Third World? Disconnection and integration

46 The production of the ‘Third World’ First world – US and allies Second world – USSR and allies Third world – the remaining, ‘non-aligned’ nations; ‘developing nations’




50 Organisation of African Unity The Cairo declaration 1964 “the borders of African States, on the day of their independence, constitute a tangible reality” weak elites who wanted to minimise threats to their rule avoiding chaos in recognition of the mosaic of racial and national distribution states to act as the motor of pan-African unity

51 End of Third World Non-aligned world Developing world Global south –Geographical determination –But Australia and New Zealand in south; India and China north of equator

52 Contemporary challenges Reduction in aid and investment from North to South Rise in racism and anti-immigration policies in the North Pressure on the South on debt rescheduling and trade access for Northern firms (creation of new markets) Continued subsidies to Northern companies –i.e. $300bn to farmers in North per year –G8 gave $8bn to Africa in aid in 2001-02

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