Saturday, January 04, 2014

On Wars And Resources

Yesterday I got depressed by checking out all the parts of this world where wars and violence are prevalent right now.  Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, just to list the three that first cropped up on my Google news. 

The reasons for wars are always complicated, but many seem to ignite when access to resources changes in a way which leaves one group in greater poverty or when groups disagree about how to share newly-found resources.  That those wars also have other explanations, including long-held grievances between tribal or religious or ethnic groups or between countries, say, doesn't change the possibility that a war might have been averted without a particular resource problem cropping up. 

Even the problems in Egypt are partly caused by the great discrepancy between the amount of arable land in that country and the traditional (and still recent) large size of the farming population, the combination of which has placed a large percentage of the population into poverty, and the antecedents to the Syrian situation point out the reduced resources (possibly caused by global climate change)  as an important cause.  The Israel-Palestine hostilities are also partly based on access to resources, such as access to water for farming.

All this is obvious.  But when a war breaks out somewhere, the peace initiatives tend not to focus on the resource/population question to the extent they perhaps should.  We might get peace faster if that was done?  Could wars be prevented by an international economic policy approach?  Is there a willingness to address such issues?

Then there are the wider links to global climate change and its impact on available resources, the unequal distribution of resources on the worldwide level, with its Western domination,  and the question of what human population size is sustainable in a world where all individuals should be able to enjoy a fair standard of living while leaving some nature for the other species.