The world could possibly opt for martial ways to deal with environmental degradation and potential perpetrators. Sounds strange, right! But this could well be the reality if the inhabitants of this wonderful planet don’t comprehend the beauty and value, mother earth holds with it.
This assertion didn’t come to light all of a sudden and isn’t a huge revelation, but it’s relevance and its significance is indeed something that needs an immediate response from the world.
The past few decades have seen many technological advancements in various fields, which consequently asked for assistance from raw materials in the form of renewable and non-renewable resources and their expenditure like never seen before, but in that process the ever so evolving world forgot to value the resources endowed to the planet and started to spend them in the most reckless manner, which years later has prompted a situation where nations are rising against each other to get hands on the remaining, sparse natural resources left in the world.
Since World War II, it is estimated that there have been more than 150 wars. Of these, relatively few have been large-scale conflicts between countries; most – about 80 percent – have been civil wars in developing countries. Policymakers and scholars have studied these conflicts closely to try to understand why violence occurs and how future conflicts may be prevented, agreeing that the root of conflicts is complex and that many political, economic, and historical factors together cause states to fail.
One ongoing debate concerns the extent to which environmental abundance or scarcity contributes to the underlying causes of conflict. Throughout history, countries have battled over natural resources. Between 1950 and 1976, fishing rights contributed to disputes between England and Iceland in three Cod Wars, although the disputes were ultimately settled through diplomatic means.
One natural resource that will be a likely source of major conflict is water as many of the world’s major rivers and underground aquifers cross national boundaries. So far, even in politically tense areas of the world such as the Middle East, neighboring countries have generally succeeded in maintaining agreements for the sharing of water supplies.
However, a number of violent conflicts have erupted, in part, over the abundance of resources. In several African nations, lucrative mineral resources – oil, diamonds, and other strategically important minerals – have fueled ongoing conflict. Sierra Leone, Congo, Liberia, and Angola have all experienced horrific civil wars in recent decades, and a major factor in those wars has been over diamonds. All four countries have been devastated by warfare due primarily to predatory governing elites using their control over the resources to enrich themselves and outfit armies used to maintain their command.
Some damage to natural ecosystems is inflicted intentionally and is intended to harm enemy soldiers or populations. One of the most senseless acts of environmental destruction occurred during the Persian Gulf War when Iraqi soldiers torched more than 500 Kuwaiti oil wells and dumped thousands of tons of oil into the Persian Gulf. The entire region was engulfed in black smoke for months until the fires could be put out, and the long-term damage to human health and ecosystems in the region has not yet been fully assessed.
Despite considerable interest worldwide in developing new energy technologies, oil will remain a critical natural resource for the foreseeable future. A massive investment in research and development will be needed to develop those alternatives, and currently, no country is willing to sacrifice its economic stability to escape reliance on relatively inexpensive oil. However, while oil is now the most affordable source of energy for many needs, the major known reserves are found in regions with unstable political environments.
While there are debates about the extent to which the availability or distribution of natural resources contributes to conflict, evidence indicates that neither environmental scarcity nor abundance alone explains why some nations prosper while others fail. It is not always true that oil and diamonds cause war and instability wherever they are found. One of the most stable and prosperous nations in Africa, Botswana, is also rich in diamonds. But it enjoys enviable levels of prosperity and social peace largely because the ethnic divisions common in other African countries are absent in Botswana. Experts agree that equitable access to natural resources essential for life – in addition to the protection of minority rights and stable political institutions – and is an essential component of a secure and thriving society.
In sum, the connection between environmental scarcity, civil violence, and international conflicts is indirect but important. Environmental scarcity is never the sole cause of conflict, but it is often an aggravating or contributing factor. Future efforts at conflict prevention and resolution should take the role that environmental scarcity plays into account, and appropriate interventions to prevent demand-, supply-, and structurally-induced scarcity should perpetuate.
The above instances may not be entirely suggesting the state of the dynamic world, but do provide a glimpse at what could possibly happen if the degradation and consumption remain unprecedented.
International conflicts have already scarred the world with blasphemous genocides, egregious bombings, and many other inhuman deeds, environmental abuse to has brought a lot of distress to civilizations across the globe, and the last thing the world wants is a war, that unfortunately seems like a possibility.