The focus of my research as an Olson Scholar will be the intersection of environmental policy and security. In policymaking security often takes precedence over other issues, including the environment. However, with the increasing urgency of the climate crisis, there needs to be a new calculus that includes more emphasis on the long term environmental impact of military action in order to ensure efforts to promote security actually achieve this goal in the long run.
Of course this is more easily said than done. One of the main issues within the intersection of the environment and security is that it is a circular debate. It is possible to explain the link between the two as I have above, where security motivated actions such as military deployments have environmental effects which are of concern in their own right. But the reverse may also be true. Some scholars argue that environmental degradation itself presents security issues. And the presentation of such issues as security threats may elevate them to a higher level of concern for decision-making bodies, meaning this method of explanation is more effective at both mitigating environmental degradation and peacebuilding.
Some scholars, such as Marc Levy, argue that in the majority of cases environmental degradation itself does not create security challenges, but rather creates other issues, such as mass migration, that present security challenges. For the purposes of the above explanation, however, I find it more productive to combine these steps and examine environmental degradation as the root cause. Additionally, Levy recognizes that certain environmental issues are security concerns for the United States, such as climate change itself. Considering his article was published in 1995, it is interesting to consider how the relevance and impact of his argument has changed as the climate crisis has grown in the last 25 years.
As I continue to narrow my research, I am interested in several arenas. First, I find the rhetoric between the two directions of the circular debate outlined above intriguing. Which is the more effective way to promote responsible policies that mitigate climate change and environmental damage while still effectively promoting peace and security? How has the progression of environmental research and climate change affected which method is more productive? Second, what exactly are the possibilities for change? Is it feasible for military de-escalation to be promoted as environmental policy and would this be effective enough to be worthy of pursuing? Lastly, how can we imagine peacebuilding, or the avoidance of conflict, as environmental policy? What are the possibilities for pursuing environmental protection through this avenue? Throughout the next few weeks I hope to narrow my focus between these questions, setting aside the others to keep in mind as I pursue my line of research and perhaps return to them in the future.
 Mosher, David E. et al. The Army’s Green Warriors: Environmental Considerations in Contingency Operations. (Santa Monica: RAND Corporation, 2008), accessed August 30, 2019, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9335.html.
 Marc A. Levy. “Is the Environment a National Security Issue?,” International Security 20, no. 2 (Fall 1995), 43.
 Ibid, 51.
Mosher, David E. et al. The Army’s Green Warriors: Environmental Considerations in Contingency Operations. Santa Monica, RAND Corporation, 2008. Accessed August 30, 2019. https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9335.html.
Levy, Marc A.. “Is the Environment a National Security Issue?,” International Security 20, no. 2 (Fall 1995), 35-63.