Roots of Conflict: Don't Blame Environmental Decay for the Next War

Popular Article

Urdal, Henrik; & Gleditsch, Nils Petter (2004) Roots of Conflict: Don't Blame Environmental Decay for the Next War, International Herald Tribune, 22 November.

When Wangari Maathai, a Kenyan known for her work in human rights and environmental conservation, including efforts to fight deforestation, won the Nobel Peace Prize last month, many took note that the Nobel Committee had evidently expanded its notion of "peace." More probably, the committee intended to highlight scarcity of renewable natural resources as an important cause of war - an idea that was widely endorsed in news coverage of the award. Speculation about "water wars" and other apocalyptic scenarios lacks solid foundation. In any case, this link is trumped by poverty, political instability and a region's history of conflict. Researchers haven't closed the book on the question, but the most dramatic scenarios can be dismissed.

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Authors

Nils Petter Gleditsch

Nils Petter Gleditsch

Research Professor; Professor Emeritus of Political Science, NTNU

Henrik Urdal

Henrik Urdal

Research Professor; Editor, Journal of Peace Research