The Urgent Need for Ecological Security Research The 21st century has witnessed drastic changes in Earth’s systems, such as atmospheric transformation, soil depletion, ocean acidification, and freshwater reconfiguration, primarily due to human activities. These changes destabilize the biosphere, threaten the ecological foundation of human society, and could lead to a sixth mass extinction marked by rapid species loss with lasting implications for humanity.
National security structures have adapted to address threats from nation-states and non-state actors but require further modification to adequately handle actorless threats like infectious diseases, pandemics, and intensifying disasters. Research must be expanded to address crucial knowledge gaps resulting from stressors that pose considerable risks to public health, social stability, and political and economic security.
Specifically understudied are elements of ecological disruption such as antimicrobial resistance amplification, physiological consequences of pollution, the decline in nature’s contributions to people’s well-being, local and regional ecological tipping points, harmful organisms thriving in rapidly changing environmental conditions; and climate change impacts on abiotic and biotic systems.
National security is unattainable without ecological security. This realization necessitates increased research, policy innovation, and collaboration among scientists and policymakers implementing an integrated approach that acknowledges the interconnectedness of the hydrosphere, atmosphere, lithosphere, and biosphere in shaping security outcomes.
Embedding ecological security in national security doctrine and architecture ensures a proactive, comprehensive approach to confronting challenges arising from ecological disruption. Moreover, addressing uncertainty and knowledge gaps should drive research and action to prevent, mitigate, or adapt to potentially catastrophic consequences.