2000

Resource depletion and civil strife in the twenty-first century

The human race will face in the next century an additional factor for conflict and civil strife namely environmental degradation and resource depletion. The principle stimulant behind impending scarcities will be the great demographic increase variously referred to as the ` Population Explosion ´ or the ` Population Bomb´. The masses of people migrating to neighbouring countries in search of fertile land, food and water will produce grave socio-economic and cultural burdens and will cause much more ethnic conflicts on a national and regional scale. This is the opinion of techno-pessimists whose view is supported by `Green Wars .´ already occurring on a small in many poor developing countries. There is however, the group of techno-optimists who believes in the power of science and technology and think that humankind will eventually find solutions for such environmental problems as global warming, ozone depletion and for such essential needs as food and water for a growing world population. Several factors deemed very important for the occurrence of civil strife resulting from environmental degradation and natural resource depletion are considered in this article and evidence for each is presented. The link between the condition or scarcity of certain natural resources such as water and the health of population and also the link between the destabilising factor of resource scarcity and civil strife in societies whose social fabric is already greatly strained by drugs, crime and religious extremism are stated. Finally, some regions thought to be future ` Hot Spots ´ for violent clash are identified and also the vital importance of enhancing environmental awareness of the nations of the developing regions and its significance for the protection of environment and utilisation of natural resources is emphasised. A programme for combining environmental literacy with alphabetisation and basic literacy programmes is proposed.

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