Warfare’s casualties beyond humanity

While hoping that every viewer and reader firmly condemns warfare and armed conflict, attention needs to be brought to a quite bad habit of ours; while many condemn the pollution and environmental harm brought by industry, agriculture and other side (or direct) effects that modern economy have on the biosphere, few mention the environmental damage created by warfare.

Once a conflict starts, victims and damage reporting tends to focus on human life loss and infrastructure, per se horrific and true, and yet there is another victim unaccounted for, the environment. 

Only recently was watching on the news a phosphorus bombardment on forest lands, aimed at inflicting losses and damage to enemy troops hiding there, as the reporter talked about wounded and casualties in the background were acres of forest burning, vegetable and animal kingdom also being punished simply for being on the wrong side of the frontline. 

Modern warfare is so technological and based on complex chemical that quite often the lands affected remain barren, sometimes for generations, as the earth is contaminated with depleted uranium, explosives, metals that end up also harming water resources.  Should not land, animals and plants also be counted among the victims of war? Moreover take into account that 40% of internal conflicts in the last half century were linked to exploitation of natural resources, be it minerals, arable land, wood, water access, often ending up being very long lasting conflicts and not just in recent history. 

Care for the environment and biosphere should be a major actor preventing conflicts maintaining and keeping peace “there can be no durable peace if the natural resources that sustain livelihood and ecosystems are destroyed” (1). Scarcity of resources are among humanity’s upcoming challenges and definitely armed conflicts only contribute to the further reduction of those resources, how can a scorched land support our survival and living? Especially when chemical weapons are so easily employed in combat. Besides human life, in war among the first to perish are forests and wildlife animals, followed by biospheric damage

Perhaps it is even more true today than ever, the need for a new culture and a new form of existence, where humanity does not give in to he mass-psychosis of self destruction, and an understanding that warfare, regardless of victor or loser sees our source of sustainment and life damaged, often beyond repair. If everybody loses then what is the point? Short-term thinking will likely have an answer, long-term thinking no.

  1. 1. On 5 November 2001, the UN General Assembly declared 6 November of each year as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict (A/RES/56/4).

L. Nava

Published by Lorenzo Nava

Consultant, Trainer and Coach, on participatory learning processes, experiential learning dynamics, non formal education and NLP certified practitioner