IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Economic Growth, Environmental Scarcity, and Conflict

Listed author(s):
  • Rafael Reuveny
Registered author(s):

    The global population is expected to reach nine billion by 2050, intensifying "environmental scarcity," a term used here to denote environmental degradation and pressure on renewable and nonrenewable natural resources. Currently, environmental scarcity is more pronounced in less developed countries (LDCs) than in developed countries (DCs). Many argue that this scarcity is increasingly promoting armed conflicts in LDCs. The conventional solution to the problem of environmental conflict is economic growth. It is argued that as LDCs' income per capita rises to the level ofthat of DCs, their population growth and environ mental scarcity will decline, preventing conflict and building peace. This paper illustrates that the growth approach to conflict prevention probably will not work because the biosphere most likely would not be able to support a DC-level standard of living for all the people on Earth, at least not at the current state of technology. The resulting intensification of pressures on natural resources is likely to induce more, not less, environmental conflict. Still, economic growth in LDCs is important on both moral and practical grounds. One could make economic growth in LDCs ecologically-and therefore politically-feasible by balancing it with a coordinated economic contraction in DCs. The difficulties associated with implementing this approach are discussed. I believe that the approach will probably be rejected by DCs in the short run, but might eventually be initiated in response to some global ecological-social-political crisis. The problem is that such a crisis also might result in extensive damages. Whether or not such damages could be alleviated would depend on the nature ofthe crisis and the extent of the damages up to that point. Copyright (c) 2002 Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

    File URL:
    File Function: link to full text
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

    Article provided by MIT Press in its journal Global Environmental Politics.

    Volume (Year): 2 (2002)
    Issue (Month): 1 (02)
    Pages: 83-110

    in new window

    Handle: RePEc:tpr:glenvp:v:2:y:2002:i:1:p:83-110
    Contact details of provider: Web page:

    Order Information: Web:

    No references listed on IDEAS
    You can help add them by filling out this form.

    This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

    When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:tpr:glenvp:v:2:y:2002:i:1:p:83-110. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Kristin Waites)

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

    If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.