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Environment, Scarcity, and Violence


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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

Promotional Information

This is an important book. Homer-Dixon moves the arguments about environmental scarcity and violent conflict forward a big step. I doubt if much will be written about the subjects in the next ten years that does not build on it, follow out some of its leads, or try to refute it. -- Robert Jervis, Institute for War and Peace Studies, Columbia University Thomas Homer-Dixon has thought more deeply, reasoned more carefully, and written more coherently about the environment/scarcity/violence nexus than anyone else I know of. This is a brilliant book--must reading for anyone concerned about the human condition in the twenty-first century. -- John P. Holdren, Center for Science and International Affairs, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

About the Author

Thomas F. Homer-Dixon is Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program at the University of Toronto. He is the author of Environmental Scarcity and Global Secunty and The Ingenuity Gop.


Winner of the 2000 Lynton Keith Caldwell Prize, American Political Science Association "[The book's] assertion that violence and the environment may be linked, and its conclusion that most big developing countries appear to be hurtling toward more internal conflict, are too important and intriguing to be left to an academic audience."--John Stackhouse, Toronto Globe and Mail "This volume is for anyone with professional or deep personal interests in the relationships of natural resource management to economic development and human societies."--Joseph P. Dudley, The Quarterly Review of Biology "[A] comprehensible model linking environmental scarcity and violence."--Stephen P. Adamian, Boston Book Review "Important and intriguing."--John Stackhouse, Globe and Mail "Clearly written and forcefully argued, Environment, Scarcity, and Violence is an excellent work."--Biology Digest "Thomas Homer-Dixon ... has conducted extensive research on the links between environmental stress and violence in developing countries... The book addresses the fact that environmental scarcity is not in itself a necessary or sufficient cause of conflict. Homer-Dixon evaluates why some societies are able to adapt well to environmental scarcity while others are not."--Nikola Smith, Journal of International Affairs

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