Between growing conflict with China and the current war that is still going on in Ukraine, it is important to understand the environmental impacts of conflict. Since the dawn of time there has been human conflict over many different topics. However, as humans have evolved, the tactics and weapons that are used throughout these conflicts have evolved to be more harmful and deadly to not only humans, but also wildlife as well. In today’s blog, we will be diving into some of the many ways that war and conflict effects the environment.
In this day and age, when people go to war there ends up being a lot of destructive weapons that are used which are very harmful for the environment. When bombs and other weapons are used, they destroy animal habitats directly and the biproducts of these weapons can pollute and destroy animal habitats including ones that are miles away. Additionally, these weapons can easily be used to directly or indirectly impact or destroy innocent civilian targets with the intent of destroying the target economically and environmentally.
Many weapons have been banned for warfare use due to their inhumane and damaging effects. This includes items such as poisonous gases, poison bullets, land mines, and many other types and classes of weapons. These restrictions were agreed upon and designed to keep wars as fair and ethical as possible considering outlawing all war and conflict is essentially impossible. These restrictions would help both innocent civilians and the environment if a major conflict were to arise. However, it is questionable whether all parties of the conflict would follow these guidelines throughout the duration of the conflict.
Another major impact of large-scale conflict is that concern for the environment tends to be neglected throughout these periods of time. Generally, when countries are at war or are having some other type of large conflict, they tend to focus on winning that instead of how to best protect the environment. As a result of this, many different environmental issues can become significantly worse over a short period of time due to neglect. Although it is very debatable how big of an issue climate change actually is. But, if we were to experience a large-scale global conflict, climate change would likely get significantly worse due to the production of war weapons, emissions, and overlooked actions countries would be taking at the time.
Other Environmental Impacts
Another major environmental impact of war is our elevated use of natural resources. The parties of war tend to use our planet’s natural resources to make war weapons. Considering the fact that many of these resources are already scarce, it means we have even less to work with for productive measures after the conflict is over. As war has evolved it has become even more destructive and deadly. Additionally, over the past couple hundred years, targeting innocent civilians has become a more common war tactic as well. As a result of this, parties of war not only target and destroy the environment near the frontline but can now also target economically and environmentally sensitive areas miles from where the conflict is being fought on the ground. This is a large issue considering these sensitive areas tend to be enticing targets for enemies of the defending party.
Effects Of These Impacts
These environmental impacts of conflict can have very negative effects on a country’s economy. This is especially true for developing countries as it can take them years to make progress economically and then when weapons of war are used on them it can set them back even more.
Wars are horrible for many different reasons including the damaging effects they bring to our environment. Although simply not having wars would be the ideal solution to all of these issues, it is unlikely that will ever actually happen. Therefore, it is best to be aware of these consequences so that we can advocate that war only be fought for the right reasons and if there is no other alternative.