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IN BRIEF

Environment

September 05, 1993|SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

ULTIMATE SECURITY: How Environmental Concerns Affect Global Political Stability by Norman Myers. (Norton: $25.; 320 pp.) This is an honorable attempt to show how our definition of security should step off the power pedestal to include considerations of the sources of a nation's well-being and security, namely, its resources. Here's the problem: Just as endless economic progress and stewardship didn't quite blend in "The Environmental Economic Revolution" (see above), the power politics definition of security and the "inner security" or "deep security" (an idea that is bubbling underneath this book but only rarely surfaces in the author's attempt to stay credible), do not blend. One of them has to go. Military security and resource preservation/maintenance/stewardship, are two different endeavors with different tools and different orientations. This remains, however, a good overview of environmental problems that cross borders around the world: Population explosion, global warming, desertification, deforestation and farmland degradation. These problems can cause wars, as Myers shows in his various "scenarios" but the exhortations to action are mostly moral; less immediately and more rarely in the name of self preservation. So, often, after a good discussion of a problem, Myers must say something artificial, like, "finally, the security connection."

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