Question Josef Politics & International Relations

Will the wars of tomorrow be fought over natural resources?

Do you agree or disagree that the wars of tomorrow will be fought over natural resources?

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Answer Internal Staff

Throughout history human conflict has been based around resources: from tribal competition for hunting grounds through to wars for control of resource rich colonies.

Wars fought for power and dominance can be seen as an indirect means to then acquire, or protect, resources.

The basis for this conflict is the fundamental ‘economic problem’ which is that people have unlimited wants, but that there are limited resources. Thus, to maximise their own benefit groups of people, must compete to gain control of as many resources as they can. Continually expanding resource holdings is one of only two ways to continually expand the consumption of a group – the other being technological improvements to more efficiently use resources.

As the worlds useful resources are decreasing, and population and consumption habits are increasing, it is inevitable that competition for remaining resources will grow.

When considering that many wars have been fought for land and material resources in the past, when there were fewer people and relatively more resources, it seems certain that this conflict will continue to the future.

Some factors may limit the potential for conflict. One such factor is the powerful armaments (nuclear and otherwise) held by some countries, that act as a deterrent for aggression. Another is initiatives such as the UN, which promote peace and cooperation.

Nuclear deterrents have so far coincided with a period of peace between powerful nations. However, the UN has seemingly had a lesser effect, as many smaller wars have occurred since its creation.

In the near future it seems likely that the period of relative peace, particularly for large nations, will continue. However, over decades or centuries the inescapable need for land, water and minerals to sustain large populations will push nations into greater competition. The certainty of the economic problem, and past evidence, suggest that wars over resources will continue.