Green Planet Blues: Environmental Politics from Stockholm to Tyoto

By Ken Conca; Geoffrey D. Dabelko et al. | Go to book overview

THOMAS F. HOMER-DIXON



Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict: Evidence from Cases

Within the next fifty years, the planet's human population will probably pass nine billion, and global economic output may quintuple. Largely as a result, scarcities of renewable resources will increase sharply. The total area of highquality agricultural land will drop, as will the extent of forests and the number of species they sustain. Coming generations will also see the widespread depletion and degradation of aquifers, rivers, and other water resources; the decline of many fisheries; and perhaps significant climate change.

If such "environmental scarcities" become severe, could they precipitate violent civil or international conflict? I have previously surveyed the issues and evidence surrounding this question and proposed an agenda for further research. 1 Here I report the results of an international research project guided by this agenda. 2 . . .

In brief, our research showed that environmental scarcities are already contributing to violent conflicts in many parts of the developing world. These conflicts are probably the early signs of an upsurge of violence in the coming decades that will be induced or aggravated by scarcity. The violence will usually be sub-

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Abridged article reprinted from International Security 19, no. 1 ( 1994):5-40 by permission of MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts. © 1994 The President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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