chapter  20
18 Pages

War

Aggression appears to be a fundamental characteristic of human nature, and violence has been used to resolve disputes since prehistoric times. Warfare is no less characteristic of the world today than in the past: since the end of the Second World War, more than 130 wars and violent internal conflicts have raged in more than 80 countries, most of these in the developing world. With the course of history, however, technological developments have greatly enhanced humankind’s capacity for destruction and while the devastation to human life and civilization is well appreciated, the ecological impacts of war are less well documented. They are, nonetheless, wide-ranging and not always obvious. In the broad perspective, war and the preparations for war are the antithesis to development, squandering, as they do, scarce resources and eroding the international confidence necessary to promote development. While competition for the control of resources has long been a reason for conflict, in recent years resource degradation is increasingly being seen as a cause of war, and one that looks set to become more important with an increasing world population.