Global Environmental Politics
What are the main environmental problems in the world? In what ways could these problems impact on the relationships between states in the short, medium (5 years) and long term (20 years)?
The dictionary definition of the environment is that it is the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates. A state, or nation, on the other hand, is defined as an organised political community under one government tied to one or more geographical locations in the world. As the prosperity of each state, along the health and wealth of its peoples, are tied so intimately to the conditions of its own environment that it would be asinine to claim that they could be independent of it in how they relate to one another. The topic of this paper is to discuss the various environmental issues currently facing the world and how it will affect these relationships in the short, medium and long term. Prior to discussing these potential scenarios, it is important to recognise that our planets environment represents a complex web of interrelated systems, one affecting the other, in a delicate balance.
Dr William E. Rees of the University of British Columbia envisions the environment as broadly four interacting spheres namely the atmosphere, which is made up of the various gasses surrounding the planet, the actual rock, earth and minerals of the planet compose its lithosphere, the hydrosphere which is its bodies of water and finally the biosphere which is comprised of all the planets flora and fauna. Each sphere has further subsystems such as the pedosphere and anthroposphere, but cumulatively they make up the ecosphere, which is his preferred term for the environment. As shown in Figure 1, these spheres are interrelated, thus upsetting the balance in one could adversely affect the balance in one or more of the others. An example could be that of large quantities of poisonous gasses being released...