The environmental circumstances and resource endowments of different geopolitical entities have an impact on patterns of conflict and cooperation, power and political fragility. Yet these factors do not operate in isolation from other political, economic, and social forces (Clark, 2006b). As noted above, a significant body of contemporary work is aimed at highlighting the problems of attributing geopolitical circumstances solely to environmental or resource variables. Such work includes critiques of simplistic attempts to link conflict to resource scarcity (Fairhead, 2001), resource abundance (Watts, 2004), and common property resources (Turner, 2004). Although work in this vein has deepened understanding of the links between the environment and social stability, the combination of rapid environmental change and shifting resource demands opens a set of new research challenges that can only be met through analysis employing the approaches and techniques of the geographical sciences.
One particularly promising realm of research concerns the geopolitical impacts of sea-level rise in the wake of climate change. The relatively conservative predictions for the next century set forth in the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC, 2007) point to a degree of sea-level rise in the 21st century that is likely to have significant
China's Inevitable Changes - Stratfor
For all the insights that have come from investigations of the geographical dimensions of peace and conflict, there is much to be learned from research on the changing nature and significance of geopolitical ideas and arrangements. The following questions provide examples of some particularly useful lines of inquiry that speak to this theme.
there must be a radical alteration of the geopolitical paradigm
Sweeping geopolitical changes have unfolded during the past two decades. The bipolar system of Cold War alliances has disintegrated, several states have broken up (the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia), new states have emerged (Er-itrea, East Timor), and suprastate blocs have grown in significance, especially the European Union. Moreover, extrastate groups and institutions have challenged the state’s geopolitical primacy (e.g., Lashkar-e-Taiba, Mercy Corps, the European Union), even as new extensions of state power have undermined traditional sovereignty arrangements (e.g., the doctrine of preemptive warfare invoked to justify the 2003 invasion of Iraq). At the same time, the globalization of capital, labor, and finance is challenging the state as the prime actor in the international arena—albeit with mixed success.
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Research by geographical scientists along the lines outlined above will deepen our understanding of some of the fundamental geopolitical forces shaping the security landscape of the 21st century. What is needed is a sustained effort to investigate the spatial character of geopolitical developments and conceptualizations and to analyze their relationship to key political-economic, environmental, and social patterns. Without studies in this vein, our understanding of key sources of geopolitical stability and instability will be impoverished.