Michael Klare is used to fielding hard questions on the environment from his students at Hampshire College.
Getting them from members of the military, though, is something the Five College professor of peace and world security studies is rapidly acclimating to.
Professor Klare recently spoke at the National War College in Washington, D.C., his second visit since the college added a unit on the environment, resources, and climate change to its yearlong course on national security policy. Klare’s Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet: The New Geopolitics of Energy is a textbook in the class of roughly 250 senior officers and others from an assortment of military and government agencies.
“I was covering the same ground in that class as I do in Hampshire’s Rethinking Security in an Age of Climate Change,” says Klare of his discussion at the War College. “I was struck by the fact that the kind of questions officers asked were very similar to the kinds that Hampshire students ask.”
Many of those questions concern alternatives to fossil fuels, the appeal of nuclear power, and problems of population growth, and Klare points out that the interest shown by the military about these matters has changed dramatically in recent years.
“Each time I spoke at the War College I saw the degree to which these issues of environment and resources had penetrated into the discourse of national and international security,” he says. “That wasn’t the case before.”
Klare notes that some don’t believe the military should be involved in environmental matters, but he disagrees.
“My view is that the more people in positions of authority become sensitized to these issues, the better it is for all of us,” he says.
On campus, Klare is actively involved, as a member of the Environmental Committee, in trying to find ways to make Hampshire College a center for curricular sustainability. That includes helping implement a new Five College Sustainability Studies Certificate, which will be offered beginning in fall 2011.
“The challenge is less to develop new technology, but to change the way we look at consumption and alter our consumptive behavior,” says Klare. “And I see more and more signs people are willing to do that.”
Klare is currently finishing a new book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources. It is scheduled for publication in September 2011 by Metropolitan Books.
The past month has been an active one for Klare, who twice discussed the oil implications of the current Middle East unrest as a guest on the Moscow-based Russia Today television network’s debate program “CrossTalk.” He’s addressed the same issue, as well as the rising cost of food, on San Francisco-based public radio station KALW’s “New America Now” program and locally on WFCR. His latest article, “The Collapse of the Old Oil Order,” was picked up by numerous outlets including salon.com and the Huffington Post.
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