Thinkpiece: Resource Scarcity/Abundance

With the primary debates of this week’s readings surrounding correlations between violent conflict and resource scarcity vs. violent conflict and resource abundance, I thought it was interesting how the introduction opened with an analysis of past acknowledgements of environmental security (e.g. Plato and Thucydides emphasizing self-sufficient societies) – all seeming to take sides with the resource scarcity and conflict theorists. Of course, this is analyzing the works of these authors through an unintended lens; nevertheless, I believe it indicates a natural tendency to align and see some logic with the resource scarcity argument.

The Deligiannis chapter did not delve into this argument in the manner I originally expected: the chapter seemed to argue that the theory was worth further research, but did not itself contribute further research or compelling evidence toward the thesis. In the end, I was in agreement with Deligiannis, but in many ways thought he contradicted himself by overanalyzing polemical debates on past research. On the other hand, Chapter 2 was valuable for finding the common points of even the criticizers for further study. In my opinion, this is an overall wise suggestion, but could also be dangerous if researchers are not open to incorporating criticism into their work. In addition, this may lead researchers to find only the evidence they seek since all common points mentioned in the chapter lean toward the validating the scarcity thesis.

I thought the flawed research methods of Chapter 2 were only accentuated by Soysa’s argument against case-based research and for trend-based research in Chapter 3. Overall, Soysa’s argument seemed to have the better organization and clarity to his statements and supporting graphs and figures. I did think he was a bit too confident and overstepping in his policy prescriptions. After reading both sides of the debate about resource scarcity and abundance, I believe both theories could be true simultaneously – they are not completely competing views in the light the authors of the two chapters present them (especially with Deligiannis’ anti-Neo-Malthusian argument and Soysa’s focus on government). Despite both authors directly criticizing the other’s point of view, they both address different situations.

If I were to further study the debates surfaced in this week’s readings, I would be interested in investigating if there are any correlations between the different causes of scarcity and different forms of violent outcomes. From the readings, it appears that much more research needs to be done on simpler topics before delving into more complex connections. Nevertheless, Deligiannis intriguingly alluded to this type of potential research. More simply, I would ideally be interested to further specify the relationship between human-induced scarcity and violent conflict with a more controlled “bridge” of social effects between the two than the loose connection presently “agreed” upon.

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