Mar 20th 2017

Environmental Challenges: Scarcity and Conflict in the Natural Environment (FutureLearn)

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War and conflict can severely disrupt the governance of the environment. What is the impact on both people and the environment? This course explores three basic principles when considering conflict in the natural environment: 1. The economics of the coming spaceship Earth; 2. Scarcity and conflict; 3.The environment as a weapon of war.

Human conflict has both short and long term effects on the natural world. The environment is directly impacted by pollution and explosions; and can be used as a weapon of war through scorched earth military action, poisoning and defoliation. In the longer term, sustainable environmental management is disrupted when conflict destabilises social systems and people are denied access to natural resources.

We will explore how we have utilised the environment of the planet to the point where there are fundamental changes to its biogeochemical cycles. For example: climate change from greenhouse gas emissions; acidification of oceans; and soil erosion. As resources become scarcer, it might be expected that people come into conflict about access to natural resources.

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