The rising global population growth and environmental problems have caused anthropological pressure on natural resources. As resources become scarcer due to these problems, communities and nations have constantly turned violent, causing conflict over the scarce resources. Although ecological problems might instigate violent conflicts, it is evident that their contribution to violent conflict is minimal.
This paper will try to establish whether ecological problems lead to violent conflict in a broader manner. The essay will argue that even if such resource problems may cause conflicts, such conflicts might not necessarily be violent. It will also argue that such problems do not entirely cause direct conflicts and that there are other aspects related to resource use that causes such violence. The paper will focus on water scarcity as reference of an ecological problem.
Role of Water Scarcity in generating violent conflict
In the modernworld, human force on the natural resources increases day by day. Due to this, exhaustion of resources occurs with regard to the human activities thus creating competition over these resources. This fierce competition over the available natural resources might lead to violent conflicts.
Additionally, as these environmental pressures continues, the quality of certain resources and natural products such as fresh water, fisheries yields and forest products is becoming a significant issue linked with scarcity (Ehrlich, Para 1, 2000).
Various researches however indicate that such ecological problems do not play or plays very little role in generating violent conflicts. In this regard, some researchers assume that environmental issues are implausible to be the mainreasonas to why there is conflict between states.
They also deem that water wars are less likely to occur between countries with shared values and generally cooperative relations. It is true that rivalry for both quality and quantity of shared waterat a local level frequently leads to international water conflicts but such conflicts are not often violent (Petter et al, p 973, 2000).
Most psychoanalysts, who are within the peace-buildingfield, foresee that the future violent conflictswill probably take the form of resource wars.They deem that most nations and communities will engage in violent conflicts over the right to usethe scarce resources such as rare oil, mineralsor water.
The underlying reasoning behind this assumption is that, as the to rise, and the demand for resources continues to grow, there is significant potential for conflicts over natural resources to intensify(Gendron & Hoffman, p 1, 2009).
The profusion or shortage of resources decides the direction a society will take in order to develop. Imbalances not only of shortagebut also of abundance of resources may distract environmental and socioeconomic policies, leading to social friction.
Other studies indicate how conflict may arise through the efforts of leaders to capture scarce resources or through the incapacitating effect on innovation that scarcity entails (Tamas, p 1, 2011). This clearly implies that the underlying shortage of natural resources do not actually lead to violent conflict, but the social and leadership factors surrounding such resources might instigate violence.
Marginalization leads to a higher occurrence of civil conflict and a higher probability that individuals or groups will take part in aggression. This is most effectual if differences in economic opportunities such as differential access to water or political marginalization concur with cultural, ethnic or religious dissimilarities.
An additional factor contributing to violence is the exemption of these groups from access and control over natural resources (Lecoutere et al, p 4, 2010). The implication here is that factors related to ecological problems alone have little influence in causing violent conflicts. On the contrary there must be integration between these resource problems and other factors like the right to control them.
Some studies argue that water scarcity is the most dominant causes of resource conflicts in most parts of the world. The underlying factor here is that all water management serves multiple purposes and navigates among competing interests.This means that water management for a single purpose is not possible. Within a nation, the management of shared water becomes very problematic. This might spill over to the boarders, which might generate tensions between states. Without a common solution to these problems, these parties can find themselves in arguments and even engage themselves in violent conflict (Wolf et al, p 81, 2005).
When an argument engrosses access to water of ample quantity and quality, then there is a higher probability of conflict occurring over water. Allotment of water among different users and uses for example agriculture and urban residents can be highly competed for even if water supplies are not severely restricted.
Whenwater supplies for largely irrigated areas reduce either in terms of quantity or in terms of quality, such aspects can encourage movement of people that could politically destabilize the receiving cities and neighboring countries (, p 2, 2009).
Water is a greater pathway that brings peace rather than conflict in the worlds international river basins. International collaboration among countries around water crises has a long and successful history since some of the worlds most voluble enemies have traversed water accords. The organizations they have created are resistant, even when associations are stressed (, p 3, 2006).
This supports the premise that though there may be ecological problems, the possibility of these problems causing violent conflict is very minimal. Conversely, some ecological problems like water scarcity promote peace through water treaties among sharing nations.
Water has also been a productive pathway for developing cooperation, building confidence, and preventing conflict, even in particularly controversial basins. In some cases, water acts as one of the few paths for conversations in otherwise . In politically unsettled regions, water is an essential part of , which serve as real conflict- prevention strategies(Wolf et al, p 81, 2005).
Some researches indicate that ecological problems do not necessarily contribute to violent crime but they rather enhance integration. In this regard, these problems provide a platform where interested nations or communities discuss how to manage the scarce resources.
Water management provides apossibility for peaceful conversations between nations, even when the opponents fight over other issues. Water management builds bridges between nations, some with little experience negotiating with each other such as the countries of the former Soviet Union (Kramer et al, p 3, 2006).
Water scarcity is never the single and hardly ever the main cause of violent conflict. However,water scarcity can worsenthe existing nervousnessamong nations and communities (Wolf et al, p 81, 2005). The assertion that water scarcity accelerates the existing tension between nations and communities generates the premise that it does not cause violent conflict directly.
The idea of water wars has turned out to be part of the political rhetoric debate. early in the year 1967, prior to the Six-Day War between Israel and its Arab neighbors, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol affirmed that water is a question of survival for Israel, and thus Israel will use all means required to safe guard the water that goes on to flow.
In the mid-1980s, US intelligence services approximated that there were at least ten places in the world where war could smash out over decreased shared water. In the year 1991, the then Crown Prince of Jordan said that the 1967 war was brought on very largely over water related matters (Petter et al, p 972, 2000).
No states have fought particularly over water resources since the city-states of Lagash and Umma fought each other in the Tigris- Euphrates basin in 2500 BC. As an alternative, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, more than 3,600 water accords signed from AD 805 to 1984 have promoted peace.
In spite of the possibility for argument in international basins, the occurrence of acute clash over international water resources have been besieged by the rate of cooperation(Wolf et al, p 84, 2005). In this regard, it is evident that the issue of water scarcity has minimal effect in causing violent conflicts in contemporary world.
Ehrlich (Para 30, 2000) however argues that resource and environmental problems, particularly water scarcity has the full potential of creating violent conflict. For instance, In California, in the mid-1920s, farmers frequently destroyed achanneltransporting water from their region to the urban centers of southern California. The governor of Arizona called out the local militia in the 1930s to protest the construction of water diversion facilities on the Colorado River between Arizona and California.
Eventually, the court settled that that dispute. This incidence indicates that were it not for the court intervention, this dispute could have turned in to violent conflict. This implies that ecological problems have the capability of causing violent conflict, which might take long to resolve.
Poverty plays a significant role in generating violent conflict among people sharing scarce resources. This means that scarcity of essential resources for instance water has the capability of causing conflicts indirectly (Lecoutere et al, p 5, 2010).Even though water scarcity does not necessarily lead to violent conflict directly, it is evident that this issue might generate conflicts indirectly by means of other social and political factors (Carius et al, p 2, 2009).