Environmental Scarcities and Conflict: Assessing the Evidence in the Asia-Pacific Region

  • Philip Howard

Abstract

A debate now rages over the importance of evidence collected by researchers in the field of ‘ecological security’, an area of enquiry which examines the role of ecological factors in a growing number of conflicts around the world. A significant body of literature, consisting mostly of case studies, has been produced by research projects around the world; each has in some way addressed the methodological problems of exploring a question of ‘causation’ in a situation involving both complex ecological and social systems. The best of these case studies are careful to explain that ecological factors in conjunction with other political and economic factors are responsible for creating situations of conflict. Still, the most common critique of the field of ‘ecological security’ is that too much emphasis is placed on the ‘ecological’. Given the wide range of methodologies employed, it is also hard to gather together evidence for easy comparison. These uncertainties can be addressed with careful use of the recently developed ‘environmental scarcities’ rubric and a contextual weighing of ecological, economic and political elements causing conflict.

Keywords

Burning Migration Silt Indonesia Concession 

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Notes

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    See Thomas Homer-Dixon and Val Percival, ‘Environmental Scarcity and Violent Conflict: Briefing Book’, University of Toronto: Occasional Paper for the Project on Environment, Population and Security, May, 1996. This project gathered, evaluated and disseminated existing data among population growth, renewable resource scarcities, migration and violent conflict. It produced several thematic papers and case studies on Chiapas, Mexico, Gaza, Pakistan, Rwanda and South Africa and was supported by the Pew Global Stewardship Initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts.Google Scholar
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1997

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  • Philip Howard

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