A few weeks back, I had to develop a short reading list for a group I’m speaking to in March. The audience is mostly military officers, with some civilians from DOD, the National Labs, State and elsewhere mixed in as well. There were two important constraints: the readings had to complement what I’d be discussing with the group, not overlap that material; and they had to add up to only about 70 pages. I also did my best to make the readings the most germane possible for a mostly military audience with precious little reading time.
This was a worthy exercise, and reminded me that we’d always intended to set up some kind of natural security bibliography for this blog’s readers beyond the straight book reviews we’ve done. We’re therefore adding a “bibliography” tag to the column on the left of this screen, where we’ll house book reviews and reading lists from now on. But for now, here are my top 70 pages of must-read material for anyone looking to learn some basics of natural security. In no particular order:
- Steve Solomon, Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization, pages 367-383 (general on water and geopolitics/stability) and 417-447 (on water issues in Asia, mostly China, India, and Pakistan).
- U.S. Department of Defense, “Quadrennial Defense Review Report,” (February 2010), pages 84-88, on energy and climate change.
- U.S. Special Operations Command, “Strategic Appreciation,” (pdf) (draft 13 November 2008), pages 2-13, esp. sections on “Environmental Decay” and “Resource Accessibility.”
- Jessica Mathews, “Redefining Security,” Foreign Affairs (Spring 1989), entire document. This is one of the foundational documents for considering environmental issues and U.S. security. It sparked years of debate on the nature of this issue set, and changes to how U.S. government agencies handle it.
- David Biello, “Rare Earths: Elemental Needs of the Clean-Energy Economy,” Scientific American (13 October 2010).
- CDR Herb Carmen (USN), Christine Parthemore, and Will Rogers, “Broadening Horizons: Climate Change and the U.S. Armed Forces,” (April 2010), pages 9-22.
Amazing how little material just 70 pages gets you. Of course, I cheated and added a list of optional readings as well. Topping my list were: The Future History of the Arctic by Charles Emmerson, the best book on the changing geopolitical balance in the Arctic; the Strategic Asia series by the National Bureau of Asian Research – nearly every edition includes great articles on energy, environment, and resource issues in Asia; and States, Scarcity, and Civil Strife in the Developing World by Colin Kahl, another foundational academic text in the field. We'll add more reading lists for you as we go, and always feel free to give us your suggestions as well.