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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict. Homer-Dixon on resource scarcity and ingenuity Ohlsson on livelihood conflicts Case of Chiapas and EZLN. Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict. Homer-Dixon on Resource Scarcity and Ingenuity: Crti Rt

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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

  • Homer-Dixon on resource scarcity and ingenuity

  • Ohlsson on livelihood conflicts

  • Case of Chiapas and EZLN

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Homer-Dixon on Resource Scarcity and Ingenuity:

Crti

Rt

  • Consumption/resource ratio is an approximate measure of a resource’s scarcity.

  • “For many resources…population growth and increasing per capita resource consumption are causing a steady increase in the ratio…”

  • To maintain “constant-satisfaction requirement”, humans will need to run resource systems every more efficiently requiring “ever greater amounts of (technical and social) ingenuity.”

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

“Some societies are locked into a race between a rising requirement for ingenuity and their capacity to supply it.”

Homer-Dixon, p. 605

Discuss

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Four factors that can limit the supply of social and technical ingenuity:

  • Market failure: property rights, non-priced externalities;

  • Social friction: power relations (narrow coalitions), culture of selfishness vs. goodwill;

  • Shortage of capital: financial and human;

  • Constraints on science: complexity, cost, accumulative knowledge, pro-science social and cultural context.

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Livelihood conflicts (Ohlsson) –

  • Rapid loss of livelihoods and falling into poverty associated with high fertility, environmental degradation, declining agricultural production, and increasing inequality;

  • Dispossessed youth become soldiers in rebel armies/political forces in pursuit of “easy gain” – non-renewable resources, illegal trade (especially in Africa).

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Causes of the EZLN rebellion:

Simultaneous…

  • Worsening environmental scarcity – demand, supply, structural;

  • Weakened legitimacy of the Mexican corporatist state (economic liberalization, Reform of Article 27);

  • “Liberation theology” (Catholic/ evangelistic churches), plus intellectual revolutionary leadership (Marcos) support long-standing activist peasant groups – “insurgent consciousness”.

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Wealth and poverty in Chiapas:

  • Chiapas – highly endowed with natural riches: oil, natural gas, hydroelectric power, primary forests, rich agricultural valleys, diverse plant and animal species (quote from Marcos);

  • Severe marginalization of indigenous population – insecure land rights, pushed to infertile frontier areas or off the land entirely as resource capture by elites and political power go hand in hand; high rates of poverty, illiteracy, morbidity (data chart).

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Chiapas: The Southeast in Two WindsA Storm and a Prophecyby Subcommander Marcos, August 1992

The road into the northern part of the state, the road along the Pacific coast, and the road you entered by are the three ways to get to this Southeastern corner of the country by land. But the state's natural wealth doesn't leave only by way of these three roads. Chiapas loses blood through many veins: Through oil and gas ducts, electric lines, railways, through bank accounts, trucks, vans, boats and planes, through clandestine paths, gaps, and forest trails. This land continues to pay tribute to the imperialists: petroleum, electricity, cattle, money, coffee, banana, honey, corn, cacao, tobacco, sugar, soy, melon, sorghum, mamey, mango, tamarind, avocado, and Chiapaneco blood flows as a result of the thousand teeth sunk into the throat of the Mexican Southeast. These raw materials, thousands of millions of tons of them, flow to Mexican ports and railroads, air and truck transportation centers. From there they are sent to different parts of the world: The United States, Canada, Holland, Germany, Italy, Japan, but with the same fate--to feed imperialism. The fee that capitalism imposes on the Southeastern part of this country oozes, as it has since from the beginning, blood and mud.

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Demand-induced environmental scarcity:

  • …..

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  • …..

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Supply-induced environmental scarcity:

  • …..

  • …..

  • …..

  • …..

  • …..

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Structural-induced environmental scarcity:

  • …..

  • …..

  • …..

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  • …..

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Demand-induced environmental scarcity:

  • High population growth rate since 1970 (3.6% for Chiapas/4.6% for indigenous pop);

  • Refugees from Guatemala during the 1980s, and seasonal migrants from Guatemala and Mexican states to the north – mainly to the Eastern Lowlands;

  • Chicon volcano displaced people to Eastern lowlands

  • Hydroelectric projects/dams displaced tens of thousands of smallholders to Eastern Lowlands

  • Land per capita began to decrease after 1975 – higher pop densities on marginal farmland in the highlands

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Supply-induced environmental scarcity:

  • Deforestation - unsustainable farming practices on hillsides (shorter fallows)…...soil erosion – yield declines for maize and beans;

  • Eroded and depleted soils converted to grazing land – 42% of deforested land converted to pasturelands, only 3.7% to agric.;

  • Overgrazed land turns into unproductive naked hills and gullies;

  • 1,000s of peasants seek sustenance from frontier land in Eastern Lowlands (Lacandon rainforest) – but tropical soils are not well suited for agriculture leading to vicious cycle of deforestation, soil erosion, capture by grazing and logging interests;

  • Montes Azules bioreserve created and expanded in lead up to NAFTA;

  • Result – env. services of wood for timber and firewood, topsoil for agriculture and water are seriously depleted;

  • Other causes of deforestation/fragmentation besides grazing and agriculture: road construction, hydroelectric and oil projects, logging.


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Structural-induced environmental scarcity:

  • Severely unequal land distribution –Agrarian Reform did not reach most fertile areas, inequities exacerbated by economic liberalization when small farmers unable to compete with global markets, PRI protected private landowners from redistribution with “certificados de inafectabilidad”;

  • Insecure property rights – long history of illegal rental/purchase of communal and ejido land/eviction of communities and families, and later of frontier land in the Eastern lowlands for grazing;

  • Caciques with PRI support (corporatist State) control access to markets and product prices through control of transportation;

  • Virtually no agricultural credit for indigenous population and scarce access for campesinos (87% - no credit);

  • Wealth from natural resources – oil, gas, timber, cattle, coffee – controlled by agribusiness, large ranchers and industry;

  • Ecological marginalization – poor forced to migrate to ecologically fragile areas…..setting up downward poverty-env. degradation cycle;

  • Economic liberalization – Salinas, to modernize and compete – tries to get rid of ejido, communal lands through Reform of Article 27 of the Constitution – land titling provision, and $$ for poverty alleviation and social services (“Social Contract”) declines.

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

To cause civil strife, economic crisis must be severe, persistent, and pervasive enough to erode the legitimacy or moral authority of the dominant social order and system of governance. System legitimacy is therefore a critical intervening variable between rising poverty and civil conflict. P. 51

Discuss with regard to Chiapas or other well-known violent conflict.

EEP153, spring 2005


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Population, Resource Scarcity and Conflict

Environmental security flows best out of policies that target poverty and governance; it also is more synergistic when build on existing priorities instead of on resource conservation, which competes with other policy demands. Adil Najam, p. 67

Discuss

EEP153, spring 2005


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