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The time has come to unpackage the environment. In the three and a half decades since environmental problems first began to command public attention, they have moved from the periphery to stage center. No longer discussed only at gatherings of the converted, environmental issues are part of centrist political campaigns, the subject of major international conferences, a factor in trade negotiations and an element in the strategic plans of multinational corporations. While this attention has led to some notable successes, actions have fallen well short of needs. The question now is how to transform spotty progress and modest steps into a more consistent pattern of political support for environmental concerns, how to move from the wide recognition that a problem exists to a public consensus that it is important. It is this question that now dominates discussions among environmentalists. The strategies proposed appear increasingly to have two elements: first, to give even more visibility to the environment per se by creating national and international institutions devoted exclusively to studying and promoting its health; second, to identify environmental interests with other interests— as an aspect of national security, for example.


About the Author

Kenneth H. Keller

Professor, Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota; Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
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Environmental Change and Security Program

The Environmental Change and Security Program (ECSP) explores the connections between environmental change, health, and population dynamics and their links to conflict, human insecurity, and foreign policy.  Read more