Myers, Norman, 1996,
Ultimate Security: The Environmental Basis of Political Stability
Washington, D.C.: Island Press.
This book builds on previous monographs (e.g., The Primary Source about tropical forests and
deforestation) and edited books (especially Gaia: An Atlas of Planet Management). It is organized around
an Introduction (Chs. 1-2) which present the basic argument, a set of regional (Chs. 3-9) and global (Chs.
10-14) examples as case studies to illustrate and substantiate the argument, and a concluding section,
"The New Security," with recommendations for policy and action from the government to the individual
levels (Chs. 15-17). The regional examples are the Middle East, Ethiopia, Sub-Saharan Africa,
Philippines, Indian subcontinent, El Salvador, and Mexico. The global examples are population, ozone
depletion and global warming, mass extinction of species, environmental refugees, and the synergistic
The argument is abstracted in the title of the book--- environmental degradation (including natural
resource depletion) is the basis of growing political instability including conflict (e.g., water scarcity in
the Middle East, p. x). Ultimate security must rest on a society that is sustainable socially and politically
as well as economically, and that in turn means the practical recognition that the world is a single
ecological community [Gaia] in which the national and political boundaries of some 200 countries are
transcended by environmental problems and corresponding solutions. [In 1992 there were some 30
conflicts in the world, many related at least in part to resources and environmental degradation (218)].
The biggest threat to the security of nations and the international community is non-military, that is,
environmental problems (e.g., global warming), and the response must be in large part non-military,
including investing more money in the environment and less in the military. [Also thesis stated on p.
226]. The environmental threat is now larger than that of nuclear warfare during the Cold War era. Much
of the violence and warfare throughout the world is in part a result of environmental factors (degradation
or access to resources), such as in parts of Africa like the Sudan, Chad, Angola, Mozambique (10),
Algeria, and the Congo (21).