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Tucker - Impact of Warfare on the Natural World.docx

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HIST 2250
Mary Ann Cyphers- Reiche

Impact of Warfare on the Natural World: A Historical Summary  Richard P. Tucker Introduction: Major Themes - Acceleration of the capacity of states to inflict violence - Acceleration of destructive capacity of military tech, and its demands on natural resources for the production and use of weapons o Recognize military aspects of societies in peacetime - Warfare (& its link w changes in natural world) must be understood in terms of systematic links to broader trends in human history - Counter-theme: recognize in some circumstances warfare has reduced human pressure on nature, allowing other species to flourish (at least temporarily) o Natural resource depletion during war also led to govts intensifying systems of resource management & protection (espesh for resources used in military) - Enviro impacts of war always specific to the characteristics of particular ecosystems - Enviro impacts of warfare rather than the ecological causes/settings of battle – present back through the millennia to early human times when nature shaped human life far more than humans were able to reshape nature Hunter-Gatherer and Sedentary Farming Cultures - Tribal warfare highly localized & tools had limited destructive power - Borders fought over for control of food & other resources, shifts in control of territory often - Attackers raid field& food supplies (get resources & cripple foes) = high mortality rates - In “buffer zones” where uninhabited, nature flourished - Tool w great destructive power = fire  early ecological impact on semi-arid regions Urban Civilizations with State Systems - More complex political/military orgs, better tech enabling large-scale warfare & greater impacts on nature - Neolithic Era of settled agri (10 thousand yrs ago) in the Near East - Large scale human labour = perennial agri via irrigation canals - Siltation and water logging issues - Enemy’s irrigation systems often target - Late 1200s Mongol conquered many civilizations: wipe out/enslave popns, plundered, fail in popn/income/state revenue – some rulers reconstructed o Iraq massacred popn of Baghdad- civil govt breakdown, lost central position in Islamic world, collapse of irrigation (depended on for prosperity), continued centuries after - 2500 yrs ago ecological changes from warfare clear in N/E Mediterranean basin – wood for weapons and defence - Burn enemies forests and pillage their farmlands – rural ppl fled to forests and created new farmland (damaging the fragile woodlands) - Naval warfare also damaged – lumber ports grew at mouths of rivers where ships were built, cleared forested watersheds upriver to meet shipyards needs, timber supplies low so move to distant sources - Rise of Roman Empire  dramatic transformation on Mediterranean and European landscaped o Timber supplies for navy=deforestation, - Along Rhine and Danube- military fortifications, led to domestication of entire landscapes - Urban centres declined and rural medieval Europe emerged – popns fell and agri lands reverted to secondary woodlands until a peaceable era of popn growth and forest clearances ushered in the High Middle Ages in the 12 cent - Major enviro impacts of organized violence revolved around fortification and siege warfare – social hierarchies important in shaping warfare’s enviro impact - Lords defended their headquarters by building fortifications – devouring woods and croplands - Peasants endured raids on food and livestock - Peasant levies impressed byt heir lords swept across farms and woodlands taking away subsistence from their adversaries of the moment - One of major paradoxes regarding enviro impacts of war appeared in 16 cent during early stage of transition to industrial warfare – ottoman Empire introduced canons and muskets to arsenal o Prior to this, campaigns lasted a long time, with new weapons sieges were brief – decline in enviro degradation o Medieval warfare greater and more permanent damage to civilian & economic life th o Ecological stress also decline in the 16 cent - China  great river basins draining wide mountain systems, dense lowland popns, north-south distances, o Cycles of stability then civil war recurred for 25 centuries (imperial dynasties aimed to control) o Complex irrigation systems targeted, refugees damaged enviro as traveled/camped - India  increasing military force became key, royal armies led by elephant corps- diminished food&
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