Mother Nature as a Geopolitical Force

We tend to overlook how natural disaster shapes national behavior. Maybe that should change.

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History is biased, and not just because the victors tend to write it. The study of history is largely the study of humankind – specifically, the geopolitical events that have shaped human actions (and vice versa) over millennia. It’s true that to learn from the past, we must study ourselves. But what if we’re missing a large part of the story? What if Mother Nature plays just as large a role in shaping the course of human events as mankind? After all, any force that compels specific actions by nation-states is necessarily geopolitical. It has long been understood that geography imposes substantial imperatives and constraints on nations. Russia, for example, will always be obsessed with securing warm water ports and access to the Mediterranean via the Black Sea because accidents of geography placed the country adjacent to potential adversaries on one side and the Arctic Ocean on another, making it essentially landlocked. But geography is just one piece of the puzzle, one that fails to account for the vagaries of natural disaster. To understand just how potent a force Mother Nature can be in geopolitics, we must expand our understanding beyond basic geography to include transitory disasters. But this raises […]

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Alex Berezow
Alex Berezow joins Geopolitical Futures to analyze the impact of science, technology, and public health on geopolitics. Dr. Berezow is a prolific science writer who has written over 1,000 articles, many of which appeared in major news outlets. He is also a monthly columnist for the Puget Sound Business Journal and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors. Currently, Dr. Berezow is also Vice President of Scientific Communications at the American Council on Science and Health, a consumer advocacy non-profit whose mission is to debunk “junk science,” promote evidence-based policy, and separate exaggerated health scares from legitimate health threats. He is also a Non-Resident Fellow at the Council on Strategic Risks. Previously, he was founding editor of RealClearScience (of the RealClearPolitics family of websites), and he served as assistant editor of RealClearWorld, where he specialized in European affairs. Dr. Berezow holds a PhD in microbiology from the University of Washington.