Re-examining the Environment-Conflict Linkage In What Way Can the Environment 'Cause' Conflict?
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"This article will discuss exactly how the environment--and the various variables that have been considered under this label--might be understood to 'cause' conflict. As this article will show, one of the particular complications of studying the environment-conflict linkage is that the relationship between environmental factors and conflict is rarely straight forward, and thus, is left open to interpretation by scholars from different backgrounds and theoretical orientations. Sometimes acrimony between different schools can take place on either definitional grounds or even on differences on what is worthy of study. Environmental factors can encompass anything from environmental degradation, to renewable resource scarcity, to non-renewable resource scarcity, to resource abundance (having a commodity that is highly valued on the world market). Scholars have disagreed on which if any of these variables is important in conflict onset and intensity. In addition, there is disagreement about how to study environmental factors, whether the environment or resources can or should be theorized outside of the political institutions that are established to manage it, or even outside of larger world patterns of consumption that condition environmental processes. The paradox of the environmental security literature is that the environment is often acknowledged as an increasingly important factor in understanding the unfolding dimensions of world politics even as it is identified as a potential source misunderstanding and obfuscation."
This article was published in Culture and Conflict Review (Earth Day 2011), v.5 no.2
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