Scientific Assessment of the Long-Term Environmental Consequences of War

The environmental impacts of wars are almost invariably adverse, regardless of whether they are caused by direct military actions or strategic counteractions, or collateral damages, or are the result of military support activities before or after the war. The total environmental damage caused by a specific war is the result of several factors. These include: the type of war (conventional, biological, chemical, or nuclear); the types of weapons and extent to which they are used; the duration and intensity of the war; the extent and type of terrain over which the war is fought; the strategies used during the war; and the pre-war environmental conditions. These factors also affect the duration of the specific environmental impacts. It has been estimated that some 200 armed conflicts have occurred since World War II, mostly in developing countries. These wars have killed more than 20 million people and displaced several millions more, causing serious environmental and economic damages.

By Asit K. Biswas, Chapter of the book: The Environmental Consequences of War: Legal, Economic, and Scientific Perspectives, edited by Jay E. Austin and Carl E. Brush, 2000, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pages 303-315. DOI: 10.1017/CBO9780511522321.017

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