The Elusive Quest: Linking Environmental Change and Conflict

Richard A. Matthew, Ted Gaulin, Bryan McDonald

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Despite contentious debates within the field of environmental security, findings of the principal research projects undertaken in the 1990s suggest significant agreement about the process linking environmental change to conflict. This article offers a reconsideration of the theoretical arguments unifying much of the research in environmental security, and argues that cases must extend their time frames considerably. The authors suggest that this would improve understanding of the social effects of environmental change, but is likely to revise mainstream arguments connecting environment and security in dramatic ways. By focusing on the often neglected role played by adaptive mechanisms, longer-range case studies tend not to support the claim that environmental stress is an urgent security issue, viewing it instead as an issue with long-term theoretical and policy relevance to those concerned not only with security, but also with sustainable development and environmental justice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)857-878
Number of pages22
JournalCanadian Journal of Political Science
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science


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