Natural Security

A Launching Pad for New Ideas About Resources and Security

Photo: Flickr: Stuart Rankin

Welcome to “Natural Security,” a new blog about the intersection of natural resources and national security. As New America’s Senior Advisor for Resource Security, I’ll be your host, but I hope to feature a range of views in this space. In particular, Ken Sofer, who is with us as a summer fellow, will be instrumental in the launch.

So, what exactly sits at the intersection of natural resources and national security? Ultimately, it’s prosperity and personal safety. But we specifically want to examine the links between resources, prosperity, and security in the modern “information age” economy. That Internet of Things we’re all so excited about depends on the things of the internet: the minerals and electricity that form the skeleton and circulatory system of this vast machine, most immediately, but also the water, land, and other resources that make such human activity possible. What threatens our access to these resources? What resource use patterns might in turn threaten the global economy and peaceful relations between nations? Is there a link between resources, the modern economy, and conflict?

This is not to say that I think climate change or oil causes war; there is rarely one single reason why people fight. But the interesting question is how these resources contribute to war, as well as peace. This is going to range from the well-known correlations, such as how fossil fuels are shaping unrest in Venezuela or drought is driving migrations, to the breaking news, such as how Tesla’s demand for batteries may affect the nations that produce and compete for “white petroleum” or lithium. We will also be looking at the consequences of today’s resource use patterns, everything from the “resource curse” that too often undermines government accountability to climate change and biodiversity loss.

We’ll seek to post new entries every day, including at least one analytical piece a week. I will write some, Ken Sofer and other New America staff will write some, and fellow travelers and friends of New America will contribute, too. And once per week, we’ll release a digest, so watch for your opportunity to sign up.

Natural Security is part of a new effort at New America to look at resource security, so pardon our dust during this construction phase and please visit often as we build out this blog, but also new projects.

Author:

Sharon E. Burke is a senior advisor at New America, where she focuses on international security and a new program, Resource Security, which examines the intersection of security, prosperity, and natural resources.