Environment, Scarcity, and Violence / Edition 1
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Environment, Scarcity, and Violence / Edition 1

by Thomas F. Homer-Dixon
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691089795

ISBN-13: 9780691089799

Pub. Date: 07/02/2001

Publisher: Princeton University Press

The Earth's human population is expected to pass eight billion by the year 2025, while rapid growth in the global economy will spur ever increasing demands for natural resources. The world will consequently face growing scarcities of such vital renewable resources as cropland, fresh water, and forests. Thomas Homer-Dixon argues in this sobering book that these

Overview

The Earth's human population is expected to pass eight billion by the year 2025, while rapid growth in the global economy will spur ever increasing demands for natural resources. The world will consequently face growing scarcities of such vital renewable resources as cropland, fresh water, and forests. Thomas Homer-Dixon argues in this sobering book that these environmental scarcities will have profound social consequences—contributing to insurrections, ethnic clashes, urban unrest, and other forms of civil violence, especially in the developing world.

Homer-Dixon synthesizes work from a wide range of international research projects to develop a detailed model of the sources of environmental scarcity. He refers to water shortages in China, population growth in sub-Saharan Africa, and land distribution in Mexico, for example, to show that scarcities stem from the degradation and depletion of renewable resources, the increased demand for these resources, and/or their unequal distribution. He shows that these scarcities can lead to deepened poverty, large-scale migrations, sharpened social cleavages, and weakened institutions. And he describes the kinds of violence that can result from these social effects, arguing that conflicts in Chiapas, Mexico and ongoing turmoil in many African and Asian countries, for instance, are already partly a consequence of scarcity.

Homer-Dixon is careful to point out that the effects of environmental scarcity are indirect and act in combination with other social, political, and economic stresses. He also acknowledges that human ingenuity can reduce the likelihood of conflict, particularly in countries with efficient markets, capable states, and an educated populace. But he argues that the violent consequences of scarcity should not be underestimated—especially when about half the world's population depends directly on local renewables for their day-to-day well-being. In the next decades, he writes, growing scarcities will affect billions of people with unprecedented severity and at an unparalleled scale and pace.

Clearly written and forcefully argued, this book will become the standard work on the complex relationship between environmental scarcities and human violence.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691089799
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
07/02/2001
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
272
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

Table of Contents

List of Figures xi
List of Tables xiii
Acknowledgments xv
Abbreviations xvii
1. Introduction 3
Aim and Structure of the Book 6
Key Research Concepts, Methods, and Goals 8
2. Overview 12
The Critical Role of Environmental Resources 13
Sources of Environmental Scarcity 14
The Importance of Context 16
Pivotal Countries 18
Ingenuity and Adaptation 25
3. Two Centuries of Debate 28
Neo-Malthusians versus Economic Optimists 29
The Distributionist Alternative 35
Thresholds, Interdependence, and Interactivity 37
Social Friction and Adaptive Failure 42
Appendix: How to Read a Systems Diagram 45
4. Environmental Scarcity 47
Three Sources of Scarcity 47
Factors Producing Scarcity 49
The Physical Trends of Global Change 52
5. Interactions and Social Effects 73
Interactions 73
Social Effects 80
Appendix: The Causal Role of Environmental Scarcity 104
6. Ingenuity and Adaptation 107
The Nature and Role of Ingenuity 109
Some Factors Increasing the Requirement for Ingenuity 112
Some Factors Limiting the Supply of Ingenuity 114
Conclusions 125
Appendix: Can Poor Countries Attain Endogenous Growth? 127
7. Violence 133
Types of Violent Conflict 136
Four Further Cases 148
Urban Growth and Violence 155
Implications for International Security 166
Appendix: Hypothesis Testing and Case Selection 169
8. Conclusions 177
Notes 183
General Readings on Environmental Security 241
Index 247

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