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War and Natural Resources in History: Introduction

Simo Laakkonen, Richard Tucker

Global Environment 10 (2012): 8–15

Natural resources are rarely alone a sufficient reason for declaring war. Nevertheless, through human history natural resources have been an important motive, target, and resource for warfare. Until recently armies lived off the land; their logistical support systems were so rudimentary that nothing else was possible. This process provides the key to much of the damage caused by wars, from pre-historic tribal wars onwards. Colonial states initiated an era of systematic global looting of natural resources that affected above all indigenous people. Industrial warfare multiplied both qualitatively and quantitatively the consumption of strategic raw materials and energy sources. Today they are targets of a global power play that cover all continents, oceans and seabed.

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