The discipline of global environmental politics

A short history

Authored by: Loren R. Cass

Routledge Handbook of Global Environmental Politics

Print publication date:  September  2013
Online publication date:  October  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415694209
eBook ISBN: 9780203799055
Adobe ISBN: 9781135090517


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Global environmental politics has emerged as a center of interdisciplinary work that integrates research from a range of fields including international relations, comparative politics, geography, economics, history, law, climatology and biology. This interdisciplinary approach makes it difficult to clearly define the boundaries in this rather immense and diverse field of study. This chapter will briefly review the emergence of global environmental politics as a distinct subfield within the discipline of international relations since the 1980s. Many subfields of international relations have made the environment a subject of study. As early as the mid-eighteenth century scholars were analyzing the roles of natural resources and human population dynamics in the fields of international security and political economy. By the turn of the twentieth century states had begun to address issues related to the protection of fisheries, birds and exotic animals, and to acknowledge problems related to habitat degradation and water pollution. However, environmental policy was generally viewed as a local and perhaps national problem rather than a major issue of international concern.

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