Get access

Chaotic Climate Change and Security


  • Thanks for all precious comments about earlier versions of this text, in particular to Laura Carsten, Martin Dege, Matthias Garschagen, Carien de Jonge, Mike Hulme, Berit Kristofferson, Angela Oels, Peer Schouten, Jared Sonnicksen, and the anonymous reviewers.


Mayer, Maximilian. (2012) Chaotic Climate Change and Security. International Political Sociology, doi: 10.1111/j.1749-5687.2012.00157.x
© 2012 International Studies Association

During the last decade, the framing of climate change has been significantly transformed. It has turned from a gradually intensifying, long-term challenge into a highly nonlinear danger that threatens national security. This article explores the reasons, and points to the consequences, of this change. Drawing from actor-network theory, it argues that practices and materials have become entangled across professional and disciplinary contexts. The growing association of chaotic climate change encompasses climatologists, who challenge the mainstream ontology of climate; economists, who started to revisit their economic models; and strategic communities, which began to pick up nonlinear climate changes foregrounding national security. Methodologically, the principle of symmetry that underlies this research aims, as far as is possible, to transcend the dualistic notions of science and politics, and society and nature. The article thereby attempts to open up a debate about the usefulness of a symmetrical approach to enhance research both on global environmental governance in particular, and global politics in general.