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The effect of warfare on the environment


  • Rafael Reuveny

    (School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University,

  • Andreea S Mihalache-O'Keef

    (Roanoke College, Salem, VA)

  • Quan Li

    (Department of Political Science, Texas A&M University)


Does warfare affect the environment? This question has received some theoretical and empirical attention, but none of the extant studies has employed large-N statistical models. This article theorizes the possible effects of warfare on the environment and estimates large-N statistical models of these effects on CO2 emissions per capita, NOX emissions per capita, the rate of change in forested area, and a composite indicator of environmental stress reduction. The results indicate that warfare significantly affects the environment, but the signs and sizes of these effects depend on the environmental attribute (whether the fighting is at home or abroad) and development (whether the fighting country is developed or less developed). Warfare reduces CO2 emissions, but the effect is weaker in less developed countries (LDCs) than in developed countries (DCs). Warfare increases deforestation when fought at home and promotes forest growth when fought abroad, particularly in the LDCs. Warfare at home reduces NOX emissions for the LDCs and increases them for the DCs; warfare abroad increases NOX emissions for both the DCs and LDCs. Finally, warfare increases aggregated environmental stress, particularly for the LDCs when fought at home and for the DCs when fought abroad. The sizes of these effects are on par with or larger than the mandated or recommended policy goals stated by the US government for changes in CO 2 and NOX emissions, and by the World Bank (and by implication the DCs driving its policy) for the rate of deforestation, during the coming decade.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafael Reuveny & Andreea S Mihalache-O'Keef & Quan Li, 2010. "The effect of warfare on the environment," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 47(6), pages 749-761, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:joupea:v:47:y:2010:i:6:p:749-761

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    Cited by:

    1. Ali Fakih & May Ibrahim, 2016. "The impact of Syrian refugees on the labor market in neighboring countries: empirical evidence from Jordan," Defence and Peace Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 27(1), pages 64-86, February.
    2. Olaf J. de Groot, 2012. "Analyzing the costs of military engagement," Economics of Peace and Security Journal, EPS Publishing, vol. 7(2), pages 41-49, July.
    3. Saidur, R. & Abdelaziz, E.A. & Demirbas, A. & Hossain, M.S. & Mekhilef, S., 2011. "A review on biomass as a fuel for boilers," Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, Elsevier, vol. 15(5), pages 2262-2289, June.
    4. Turconi, Roberto & Tonini, Davide & Nielsen, Christian F.B. & Simonsen, Christian G. & Astrup, Thomas, 2014. "Environmental impacts of future low-carbon electricity systems: Detailed life cycle assessment of a Danish case study," Applied Energy, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 66-73.
    5. Joel R. Carbonell, 2016. "Military spending, liberal institutions and state compliance with international environmental agreements," International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Springer, vol. 16(5), pages 691-719, October.


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