Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Political Science

First Advisor

Harvey Starr


The effects of militarized conflict pervade countless aspects of society, yet scholars have focussed very little attention on the consequences of conflict. My dissertation assesses the cost of war by examining the relationship between violent conflict and the environment. I argue that the effect of conflict on the environment is an im- portant consequence of war that is often overlooked in favor of other repercussions such as economy and health that are more politically expedient . I study this effect in the light of components of national environmental capacity and hypothesize that conflicts result in short-term and long-term impact on the quality of the environment. Moreover, wars pose a significant threat to the socially critical components of the en- vironment which could engender further conflict. I present a framework to evaluate the complex linkages between war and environment, where environment is assumed to be at the center and not an exogenous factor that affects conflict. My empirical analyses explicate the mechanisms though which wars lead to degradation of the en- vironment. In Chapter 1, I introduce the project and reflect on the importance of studying the environmental consequences of conflict. I discuss the extant literature on environment and conflict and underscore the importance of reformulating our un- derstanding of environmental security in Chapter 2. Then, I lay out the conceptual and theoretical framework for this study in Chapter 3, outlining the ways in which conflict undermines our environment. In Chapter 4, I empirically analyze the effect of conflict, along with relevant political and economic factors, on overall levels of national environmental capacity over the past five decades. I extend this analysis to disaggregated measures of environmental capacity in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6, I go on to assess the international regime and laws available to protect the environment during and after wartime. Chapter 7 concludes the dissertation.


© 2013, Swapna Pathak