Chapter 26 ~ War

Learning Outcomes

After completing this chapter you will be able to:

  1. Explain the causes of wars and other violent conflicts.
  2. Describe the costs of militarism and warfare in terms of human lives, economic costs, and environmental damage.
  3. Outline the economic and environmental damage that would potentially be caused by the use of nuclear weapons.
  4. Outline the influences and mechanisms that help to promote disarmament and avoid warfare.

Causes of Extreme Conflict

War (or warfare) might be defined as a period of organized deadly conflict between human societies, countries, or another defined group. War is waged to achieve political objectives, or as stated by the German military theorist, Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) in his famous book On War (1832): “War is the continuation of national policy by other means.” In modern times, the adversaries in warfare are typically well-armed with lethal weaponry. The results of a conflict often include the widespread destruction of the infrastructure of the warring parties, much loss of human life, a great disruption of society, and severe environmental damage. Militarism refers to a belief of people or governments in the need to maintain a strong military capability to defend or promote national interests. The implementation of war-oriented policies results in enormous amounts of resources being diverted to building and maintaining a martial capability in the form of armed forces and their equipment and other infrastructure. The absence of war is referred to as peace, during which time society typically has a focus on improving socioeconomic and environmental conditions, rather than on preparing for conflict. In reality, however, the conditions of peace and war may each vary enormously and even overlap to some degree (Figure 26.1).

Figure 26.1. The spectrum of peace and combat. This conceptual diagram shows the ways that armed forces might be engaged in operations during both war and peacetime. The intensity of warfare increases to the right of the diagram, and that of peace to the left. Modified from Johnsen (1998).

The intensity of combat may range from a calamitous exchange of nuclear weapons to local actions that are taken to control an insurgency. The intensity of peace can vary from utter civil and international tranquility to policing actions that are needed to maintain civil order. The engagement of military forces during peacetime can range from a deployment to assist civil authorities during a natural disaster such as major flooding, actions needed to prevent domestic terrorism, or international operations sanctioned by the United Nations to keep or enforce the peace among other warring countries.

Certainly, war has long been an enterprise of organized groups of people. It is referred to in some of the earliest records of civilization. One of the earliest historical references is in the second book of the Judeo-Christian Bible: “The Lord is a warrior,” (Exodus 15, 3-18), a phrase that refers to a belief that God intervened with violent actions against the army of the Egyptian Pharaoh, who was trying to prevent the Jewish tribes led by Moses from leaving his realm.

Moreover, humans may have a genetically based predisposition to engage in violent behaviour, with sometimes lethal consequences. This suggests that when stimulated in certain ways by environmental circumstances, humans may be hard-wired to become viciously aggressive, and such a response may be an integral aspect of our biology.

Interestingly, many other species also appear to be like this, including our closest living relative, the chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes). Biologists studying the behaviour of these animals in the wild have observed instances of groups of related male individuals deliberately engaging in violent and sometimes lethal raids against a neighbouring troop, particularly against other males. This activity could be likened to non-human warfare, albeit at a small scale. Interestingly, the closely related Bonobo (Pan paniscus) is much less aggressive; rather, this chimp appears to diffuse societal tension in non-violent ways, including a matriarchal group structure and sexual promiscuity.

Many species of ants are also war-like in their sociology. For example, the Amazon ant (Polyergis) makes raids on colonies of the wood ant (Formica) in order to capture slaves that are then used to tend their broods of eggs and pupae, killing any individuals that do not submit to detention. One additional example of lethal aggression between species might involve a pack of wolves (Canis lupus) attacking coyotes (Canis latrans) that are observed to trespass on their territory.

However, these are somewhat unusual examples of violence committed by groups of non-human animals. It is much more common for animals to engage in violent behaviour when in competition for sexual reproduction, as when male deer of various species, such as elk (Cervus canadensis), aggressively joust with their antlers for access to females in their herd, or when rams of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) act similarly by whacking their heads together. Animals may also compete in violent ways to secure access to scarce food or other resources.

However, if these aggressive behaviours are occurring as contests between particular individuals they would not be considered to represent warfare, a term that should be limited to acts engaged in by organized groups having a common purpose. Von Clausewitz (1832) defined war in this way: “War is thus an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will.”

In our own species, it is likely that the earliest pre-historic conflicts were between extended family groups (or clans) that were engaged in a subsistence economy of hunting and gathering, who may have fought over access to food or other resources. However, because of low population densities those conflicts may have been rather infrequent. Interestingly, there is no actual evidence in ancient archaeological records of such aggression occurring amongst hunting-and-gathering people, such as the in the cave paintings of Lascaux, France and elsewhere, which instead focus on depictions of animals being hunted as food. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine that conflicts between neighbouring bands of people did not sometimes occur.

As human cultural evolution progressed, the clashes between small groups of people would have progressed to bigger conflicts involving neighbouring communities and cultures. By 10-12-thousand years ago, many archaeological sites include remains of relatively advanced weapons such as bow and arrow, mace, and sling, all of which could have been used in human conflicts as well as for hunting.

Of course, the scale and intensity of warfare have increased enormously since those early days. Wars progressed into conflicts between city-states, and then between nation-states and often their coalitions. Cumulative improvements of technology have resulted in the development of increasingly destructive and sophisticated weapons, and the rapid growth of both populations and economies during the past several centuries have resulted in a gigantic scale of military capability.

Today, modern warfare potentially involves a contest with the potential to achieve an equivalent of Armageddon, a Biblical metaphor for a conflict so destructive that it represents the end of civilization. In the Abrahamic religions, Armageddon was a place mentioned in Revelation 16:16 where there was an enormous battle that resulted in the end of the world. Indeed, any enthusiastic use of the arsenals of advanced weaponry of today, and particularly the nuclear arsenals of several countries, could result in an end-of-times outcome.

Of all the possible damages that humans might cause to their own civilization and to the biosphere, an all-out nuclear war would certainly result in the worst possible destruction. To paraphrase the poet T.S. Eliot (1888-1965): this is the way the world could end, not with a whimper but a bang.

Causes of War and Other Hot Conflicts

Wars occur because one party decides that its goals are best (or only) secured through the use of force rather than through other means (such as diplomacy), and because the other party is prepared to employ force to resist. Those goals may involve vital national interests, or they may be inspired by some combination of politics, socioeconomic circumstances, or beliefs founded in culture or religion. The causes of war are always complex, but they may be understood by briefly looking at some examples, which are presented below in chronological order.

Disputes between nation-states (countries) or their coalitions have been the most common reason for the “conventional wars” that are fought by regular armies. These wars are typically fought over national interests, such as conflicts over territorial boundaries, the imperial ownership of colonies, or rights of access to certain regions for trading or transportation. The examples below were selected as being relevant to conflicts in which Canada or its colonial progenitors were engaged.

  • The Seven Years’ War was an international conflict that occurred between 1756 and 1763 and involved European powers organized into coalitions led by Britain-Prussia or France-Spain. The war was mostly about the control of foreign colonies, but the personal aggrandisement of heads of state was also an important factor. The conflict occurred in Europe and in various international theatres. In North America it resulted in the British securing colonial ownership of New France, a region now consisting of the Maritime Provinces and southern Québec, as well as Spanish Florida and some Caribbean islands.
  • The War of 1812, which actually took place during 1812 to 1815, was fought between Britain and its proto-Canadian colonies and the United States aided by France. It was an offshoot of the Napoleonic Wars of 1796-1815, a series of conflicts that occurred mostly in Europe and were fought between France and its allies and Britain and its own confederates. The War of 1812 was declared by the U.S. for a number of political and economic reasons – to lift trade restrictions imposed by the Royal Navy, to stop the forced impressing of American sailors into British naval service, to end British support of Amerindian tribes that were resisting American westward expansion, and to expand its national territory into what is now the southern regions of the Prairie Provinces.
  • The First World War (or Great War) of 1914-1918 was a conflict between two large coalitions: the Allies (western European countries led by France and Britain, plus Canada and other countries of the British Commonwealth, Russia, and later in the conflict Italy and the United States) and the Central Powers (a German-led group that included Austria-Hungary and Turkey). This war was triggered by the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, but the ultimate causes are remarkably complex. They are linked to tensions arising from the aspirations of Germany for hegemony (a kind of imperial leadership) in Europe, for the Austro-Hungarian empire to eliminate threats to its survival, for national security of all of the participating nations, and for the permanence of colonial empires.
  • The Second World War of 1939-1945 was an even more widespread conflict between two enormous coalitions. On one side was the Allies, consisting of western European countries ultimately led by Britain, plus France, Belgium, Canada and other Commonwealth countries, and beginning in 1941, the Soviet Union and the United States. On the other side was the Axis Powers led by Germany and Japan, but also including Italy, Romania, and some other countries of eastern Europe. The conflict in Europe was precipitated mostly by aggressive German aspirations to politically dominate Europe and beyond, a goal that was partly instigated by lingering frustration with the humiliation and crushing reparations imposed on that country as a consequence of its defeat in the First World War. The German intent was to politically dominate western Europe, and to colonize eastern Europe with large numbers of Germanic settlers. The fever for war was also fuelled by profound differences in socio-political systems between democracies and dictatorships, and between capitalism and socialism-communism. A more minor cause was disgust felt by many people in the Allied countries about political and social policies imposed by the Nazi dictatorship in pre-war Germany and Austria. Those policies were resulting in severe losses of civil liberties by ethnic groups, other social minorities, and the political opposition, including their seclusion in concentration camps, where many were forced to work as slaves under starvation conditions, or were mass-murdered.
  • The First Gulf War of 1990-1991 was instigated when Iraq unexpectedly invaded and took over Kuwait in August, 1990. The invasion was ostensibly rationalized on the basis of Kuwait once being controlled by Iraq. However, the real reason for the invasion was Iraq seeking relief from huge debts associated with its recent war with Iran of 1980-1988. Those debts were mostly owed to nearby Arab countries, and a substantial part could be relieved by taking over the government and rich oil fields of Kuwait. Almost immediately, however, the invasion of Kuwait was opposed by a coalition of nations led by the United States and sanctioned by the United Nations. The public justification for the subsequent war of liberation was based on preserving the sanctity of sovereign states – in particular, that of Kuwait prior to the Iraqi invasion. However, the key underlying reason was a compelling desire to safeguard the reliability of supply of Middle Eastern petroleum to Europe, North America, and Japan. At the time, about 63% of the known recoverable reserves of petroleum in the world were in the Middle East (WRI, 1995). Iraq held 11% of the global reserve and when it added the Kuwaiti stocks it would have controlled 21%, while also threatening an additional 29% in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The oil-dependent industrial nations considered it an unacceptable economic threat to have so much of the world’s petroleum controlled by a capricious Iraqi dictatorship led by Saddam Hussein. In addition, the governments of various Middle Eastern countries felt threatened by their own potential invasions by Iraq.

Wars between differing cultures are fought because of deep animosities associated with different religions or political ideologies. These kinds of wars may involve the armies of nation-states or they may occur as rebellions or insurrections within a country. Examples include the following:

  • The American War of Independence (1775-1783), also known as the American Revolution, was fought between the Imperial forces of Great Britain and an insurgency of many people who were living in what is now the eastern United States. The main cause of the war was an intense difference in political ideology – many of the colonial Americans were dissatisfied at being governed and taxed by a foreign parliamentary government without having an effective representation in that administration. In essence, the revolutionaries were seeking the freedom to govern themselves, and they fought to win that right, in the process founding the United States of America. However, many other Americans of the time did not seek liberation from direct rule by Britain, and after the war most of them left the nascent United States, many of them immigrating as United Empire Loyalists to what is now eastern Canada.
  • The French (1789-1799) and Russian (1917) Revolutions were broadly comparable in the sense that both started as rebellions undertaken with the intent of replacing an absolute monarchy with a system of governance that was more broadly based on the will of the populace. The monarchs that were replaced were King Louis XVI of France and Tzar Nicholas II of Russia. However, both of these revolutions ushered in periods of profound social and political upheaval that resulted in unstable governments of various kinds, ranging from temporary re-institution of a monarchy, to dictatorship, to the liberal democratic systems that exist in those countries today. Essentially, these revolutions were socio-political in their nature.
  • The Korean War of 1950-1953 and the Second Indochina War of 1960-1975 were separate conflicts fought for similar reasons – irreconcilable differences in the socio-political systems of capitalism and communism, and the desire to replace one with the other. The Korean conflict began when communist North Korea, later aided by China and Russia, invaded capitalist South Korea, later aided by the U.S., Canada, and other western countries. The war in Indochina began as an insurgency in South Vietnam by a communist Viet Kong guerrilla force, later joined by regular troops of North Vietnam supported logistically by China and Russia. These communist forces were resisted by the capitalist government of South Vietnam as well as the United States and several other western countries (Canada did not fight in this war).
  • “The Troubles” was a period of ethnic and political conflict in Northern Ireland that also spilled over into violence in England and the Republic of Ireland. This conflict began in the late 1960s and ended in 1998, although sporadic violence still occurs. This was a low-grade war between radical factions that differed in two main attributes: (a) in religion and associated cultural traits (Roman Catholic versus Protestant) and (b) in politics, with the nationalist (or republican) Catholics striving to have Northern Ireland join with the Republic of Ireland, and the unionist (or loyalist) Protestants wanting to remain one of the four countries that make up the United Kingdom (along with England, Scotland, and Wales). The fighting consisted mostly of urban terrorism such as bombings and assassinations by paramilitary organizations of both sides, while the police and armed forces of the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland tried to contain the violence and maintain social order.
  • The violence between Hutu and Tutsi peoples in Rwanda, Burundi, and neighbouring countries of central Africa was essentially a result of intense ethnic conflict between these tribal groups. The distinction between Hutu and Tutsi is mostly one of self-identified cultural affiliation – people view themselves as being one or the other, based mostly on their family lineage. Other than that, the groups speak the same language and are physically similar (the Tutsi tend to be taller and leaner, but this is not a consistent difference). Regardless of the real or presumed differences, many people in each cultural group had developed an intense prejudice against the other, a situation that was made worse by asymmetric power structures in government and other forms of tribal competition. In 1994 this state of affairs culminated in a mass murder in Rwanda of more than 500-thousand Tutsis by Hutus over a 3-4-month period. Tutsi forces from Burundi then invaded Rwanda, and although there are ongoing conflicts in that region of Africa, the genocidal mass killings were ended.
  • The Kurds are a distinct people of the Middle East, but they do not have a home country. Instead, they live in adjoining regions of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey, where the national governments have tended to suppress the Kurdish culture in an attempt to assimilate them into that of the mainstream. However, many Kurds have nationalist aspirations and these people have engaged in long-running insurgencies with the intent of secession to form their own homeland. The Kurds have achieved a substantial degree of self-determination in northern Iraq, but not elsewhere.
  • The state of Israel was founded in 1948 as a result of a decision by the United Nations to partition the land of Palestine, at the time a British protectorate, into Jewish and Arabic states. Essentially, this was done to provide a country for Jews in their ancestral homeland following a genocide during the Second World War during which about six million were killed (a genocide is the mass killing of an identifiable group as an attempted extermination). However, the division was resisted by many of the indigenous Palestinians as well as surrounding Arabic countries. This resulted in a series of wars between Israel and surrounding countries, as well as hot conflicts with Palestinian guerrillas associated with several political factions. The causes of this long-running conflict are complex, but they include reciprocal prejudice and hate between adversarial groups based on religion and other cultural differences.
  • The final example of extreme conflict between cultural groups is an on-going one between radical Islamic fundamentalists (Islamists) and “Western” sociocultural influences. The Islamists are organized into a number of trans-national paramilitary organizations, such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and the Taliban, who are fighting to oppose western influence in countries where the dominant religion is Islam, while also seeking an ascendancy of the Sunni version of Islam over the Shia and other ones. The opposing forces include the national governments of all countries where the Islamists are active, heavily supported by the “West,” which consists of relatively developed countries governed by liberal democracies and epitomized by the United States, and including Canada. The conflict mostly involves terrorist actions such as assassinations and bombings of public places, including the catastrophic attacks using hijacked jetliners on September 11, 2001, on the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington. In addition, however, the conflict involves organized Islamist armies fighting against governmental forces, the latter often aided by international expeditionary forces.

These various examples of wars, chosen from a multitude of possible cases, show that a lethal conflict may be caused by a variety of triggers, some operating over longer periods of time and others on a shorter-term basis. In all cases, however, the decision to engage in extreme violence against other people and their culture or economy is based on a logical interpretation of the existing circumstances, as they are understood by one or both of the opposing sides. The logic itself may seem twisted and irrational to an independent observer, perhaps one who is less sympathetic to judgements based on racism, xenophobia, and other intolerances. Nevertheless, all acts of extreme violence make a kind of sense to their perpetrators, and that is the fundamental reason why they are undertaken. As we will learn in the rest of the chapter, the results of warfare can include mayhem and murder at extraordinary scales, causing misery to many people and also to the broader environment.

Image 26.1. The World Trade Towers burning on September 11, 2001. The two World Trade Towers were the tallest buildings in New York and a global symbol of both international commerce and western-influenced capitalism. They were attacked by hijacked commercial jetliners flown by Al-Qaeda aligned terrorists. The fires caused by the attacks weakened the buildings enough that they then collapsed. The total mortality associated with these attacks, another at the Pentagon in Washington on the same day, and a fourth hijacked jetliner that crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, was 2,996 people, and at least $10 billion in property damage was caused. Source: Image from U.S. Library of Congress, LCCN2002717279 LC-A05-A11.tif;

Social and Economic Impacts

Wars can have enormous and damaging socioeconomic impacts. The most obvious damages are associated with the killing and injuring of people, sometimes in unfathomable numbers, as well as an awful disruption of the lives of the survivors. In a more general sense, the economies of nations become transformed by their conversion into a focus on the production of goods and services that are needed to support a war effort. This is especially the case of the largest conflicts, for which a “total-war economy” may be deemed necessary to avoid defeat.

Mortality during war

The most terrible conflicts in history, in terms of causing mortality, were the two so-called “world wars” of the twentieth century. The conflicts received those names because the wars occurred on several continents and so many countries were involved in the fighting.

The First World War (1914-1918) was fought throughout much of Europe. The greatest battlefields were in the lowlands of Belgium and France where there were relatively static and long-lasting confrontations between enormous armies that were well dug-in with extensive trenchworks. Additional large conflicts occurred in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and the North Atlantic Ocean. The total number of military deaths was about 8.5 million (8.5M), of which the Central Powers lost 5M and the Allies the rest (including 67-thousand (67k) Canadians) (White, 2010). Most of the deaths occurred during combat, either directly in action or afterward because of grievous or infected wounds, but many others were a result of epidemic diseases such as cholera that were promoted by poor sanitary conditions.

In addition, there were 7-13M deaths of non-combatants during the First World War. Most of these resulted from starvation or disease, which were a consequence of severe disruption of the economy and of the functioning and infrastructure of civilization in affected regions. As in other wars, the estimates of civilian deaths are not based on direct counts but rather on calculations of so-called “excess mortality”, or differences in the death rate before and during the war. The worst losses of civilians were in Turkey at about 2.2M, Russia at 1.5M, Italy 1.0M, Austria-Hungary 700k, Germany 692k, France 500k, Serbia 450k, Romania 430k, and Britain 230k. The data for Turkey include the victims of a genocide directed against Armenians in that country, which itself may have killed 1M people.

Because of the unprecedented mortality, the First World War was labelled as “the War to end all wars”, in the expectation that people would never again allow such an avoidable catastrophe to take place. To prevent such a re-occurrence, the leading countries of the world created an international security organization called the League of Nations whose mission was to maintain world peace, essentially by providing a forum in which countries could work out their differences. Unfortunately, that body was not successful and only two decades after the end of WWI there was an even more extensive conflict, with a loss of life more than twice as large.

This was the Second World War (1939-1945), whose two main battle theatres were throughout most of Europe and in eastern Asia, with additional areas including the western Pacific Ocean, the North Atlantic Ocean, northern Africa, and the Middle East. The total number of military deaths was about 20 million, of which the Allies lost 13M (10M of whom were of the Soviet Union) and the rest from the Axis nations (White, 2010; Canada lost 45k). Most of the military deaths occurred during combat or as a later result of wounds, but especially in the eastern front many soldiers died of cold, starvation, or epidemic diseases.

The toll of civilian deaths during this extensive conflict was even more extraordinary, totalling about 30-46 million (the global population in 1945 was about 2.3 billion, so the larger mortality number represents about 2%). Most of the mortality was caused by starvation and disease, but there were also “death camps” where large numbers of civilians were exterminated by the Nazis. In addition, both sides directed intensive military actions against cities in an attempt to instil terror and loss of hope in the civilian populations. The countries suffering the worst civilian mortality were Russia at about 17 million, China 8M, Poland 6M, and the East Indies 4M.

The worst episodes of civilian mortality caused by direct military actions involved the mass-bombing of cities by the German, Japanese, and Allied air forces (including that of Canada). In essence, the intended goals of these attacks on civilian targets were to demoralize the population and wreck the war economy. The most destructive cases included the bombing of cities in Britain during the so-called “Blitz”, which occurred during a nine-month period beginning in September, 1940. More than 20k people were killed in London and about 1M buildings were destroyed or damaged (Wikipedia, 2014a). London was the most heavily targeted city, but others were also hit hard and in total more than 40k people were killed during this aerial offensive directed mostly at civilian targets.

It is important to recognize, however, that Allied air forces also engaged in mass-bombing of German cities, especially after they gained command over the airspace of Europe. This involved flights sometimes of more than one-thousand bomber aircraft dropping huge “blockbuster” explosives of 1.8-5.4 tonnes (these were nominally capable of devastating an entire city “block”) and incendiary devices to ignite great firestorms. The worst cases of civilian mortality during those massed Allied operations occurred in Hamburg with about 45k killed, and Dresden with 25-35k deaths (Wikipedia, 2014b). Berlin, the capital of Nazi Germany, was subjected to at least 363 air raids, which killed more than 20k people, rendered about 1/3 of the buildings unusable, and created about 16 km² of rubble-filled bombed-out zones (Wikipedia, 2014c).

In the Pacific war, the American bombing of Tokyo in March, 1945, killed about 100k people and injured at least as many, making it the most destructive event of conventional bombing in history (Wikipedia, 2014d). The U.S. also dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, 1945, to end that war, killing 90-166k and 60-80k people, respectively (Wikipedia, 2014e).

Moreover, the Nazi government of Germany targeted certain ethnic groups for genocide, and killed at least 5.5 million Jews in extermination and work camps, and 0.5 million Gypsies (or Roma; proportional to their initial population, this ethnic group suffered the most grievous loss during the war). The victims of the genocides died from outright murder, starvation, and disease. Other groups targeted for extermination by the Nazis were homosexuals, people with physical or mental disabilities, and political dissidents. There were also immense massacres of prisoners of war, including about 3M soldiers captured by the Germans from Soviet armies, and perhaps more than 1M Germans captured by the Soviets.

For context and additional information, here are some estimates of the numbers of fatalities associated with other wars of the past several centuries, again with an emphasis on those in which Canada has been involved to some degree (White, 2014):

  • Seven Years’ War (1756-1763), during which about 1.3M people died, more than half by non-combat means, especially from epidemic diseases such as cholera
  • American War of Independence (1775-1783), about 37k deaths from combat and 96k from non-combat
  • War of 1812 (1812-1815), about 13k military deaths and 15-17k non-combat
  • U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), about 600k deaths (1/3 in battle and the rest non-combat)
  • World War I (1914-1918), about 8.5M military deaths and 7-13M civilians
  • Second World II (1939-1945), about 20M military deaths and 30-46M civilians
  • Korean War (1950-1953), 2-3M military deaths and 2-3M civilians
  • Second Indochina War of 1960-1975, about 1.3M military deaths and 0.3-1.5M civilians
  • Iraq (2003-2014), about 150k deaths, mostly civilians in war-related violence
  • Afghanistan (2001-2014), about 50k deaths, mostly civilians in war-related violence

Social and Economic Effects

Warfare and other kinds of extreme violence result in enormous social damages to affected populations. Large numbers of people are killed or injured, afflicted by epidemic diseases, displaced from their homes, or suffer from immediate and post-traumatic psychological stress.

Huge economic costs are also associated with warfare. They include outlays for the wages of military personnel and their upkeep, expenditures on hardware and consumables, and the destruction of buildings and other manufactured capital (including weapons). Moreover, these costs are also relevant to non-war times, because huge expenditures must be made to support a military capacity that is deemed necessary to provide an appropriate level of defence against potential aggression.

Of course, these various costs of war and militarism are diverted from other spending options, such as those needed for health and educational programs. In Canada and all other countries there are political tensions between people who argue that a high level of military preparedness is needed to provide for national security, and others who believe that a more socially responsible course is to expend a larger fraction of limited resources on improved health and educational outcomes in the general population. To a large degree, the extreme positions along this spectrum of political views are irreconcilable, and the prudent way forward is a pathway somewhere in the middle of the controversy.

In any event, in the real world in which we live, immense amounts of social and economic capital are expended to prepare for military actions, and if necessary to engage in them. Enormous amounts of money are spent to construct a military infrastructure of buildings and other structures, to manufacture specialized vehicles and weapons, to pay for military personnel, and to purchase consumables such as munitions, fuel, and food.

Figure 26.2 shows the history of global military spending over the period 1987 to 2013. The peak of expenditures in the late 1980s reflects the enormous military outlays that were made during the height of the “Cold War,” when U.S.-aligned liberal democracies and other allies were engaged in a persistent confrontation with communist nations allied with the USSR and China. The Cold War did not involve significant direct conflicts between the nuclear-armed protagonist groups, although there were destructive proxy wars that involved some of their allies. The largest and most devastating of the proxy wars were the Korean War (1950-1953), the Second Indochina War (or Vietnam War; 1960-1975), and the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan (1979-1989).

The large reduction of military expenditures beginning in 1990-1991 mostly reflects two key changes in the strategic military milieu:

  1. The USSR economy collapsed at that time and that Soviet entity devolved into the Russian Federation, and then into separate countries such as Russia, Ukraine, and others. Between 1988 and 1990 its annual military spending averaged $299 billion, but in 1992 that deflated to $62B and then further to $21B in 1998 (all in constant 2011 $US; SIPRI, 2015). Spending has increased considerably since then, to $85B in 2013.
  2. There was greatly reduced military spending by the U.S. and its allies as a “peace dividend” associated with the end of the Cold War. Between 1988 and 1990 the annual U.S. military spending averaged $546 billion, but this was reduced to an average of $386B during 1996-2000 (constant 2011 $US). However, since 2001 the U.S. spending has almost doubled as it ramped up expenditures for its “War on Terror” (to $720B in 2010, although it since decreased somewhat to $619B in 2013).

Figure 26.2. Global military spending from 1987 through 2011. The data are in units of billions of constant-2011 U.S. dollars, meaning they are corrected for inflation. Source: Data from SIPRI (2015).

The total global spending for military purposes in 2013 was US$1,747 billion (or US$1.747 trillion; in year-2013 dollars; SIPRI, 2015). This was equivalent to about 2.4% of the total global Gross National Income (GNI) in that year, which had a value of US$73.9 trillion (World Bank, 2015). (GNI, also referred to as Gross National Product (GNP), is the sum of the values of all products and services that are generated within a country in one year. For any country, GNI is equivalent to the Gross Domestic Product or GDP plus any net income received from other countries). For comparison, the global spending on education and health were each equivalent to about 10% of the GNI (World Bank, 2015).

Figure 26.3 shows the relative amounts of recent (2013) military spending by various countries. The United States, which accounts for about 4.6% of the world population, is responsible for about 38% of global military spending. This far outpaces the second-largest spender, China, which is home for 20% of the people in the world. These data reflect the fact that, at the present time, the U.S. is the world’s only military “superpower”. However, an enormous national burden is associated with the fiscal policies that are required to attain and sustain this strategic position. To do this, the U.S. has accumulated an enormous public debt to finance its military capability. There are important socioeconomic consequences of diverting such a large fraction of the limited resources of the country to military-related spending instead of on health, education, and other social priorities.

Figure 26.3. Military spending by various countries in 2013. The data are expressed as a percentage of the total global spending of US$1,705 billion in year-2013 dollars. Source: Data from SIPRI (2015).

Although Canada is a wealthy country on a per-capita basis, it is a relatively small player in the global military stage. Total military spending in 2013 was $18.5 billion, which is equivalent to about 1% of our GDP (compared with 4% for the U.S.; SIPRI, 2015).

Nevertheless, Canada has been involved in many international conflicts, the biggest of which were previously noted. Our country’s largest expenditures for military purposes occurred during the First and Second World Wars, when all of the Dominions of the British Empire were called upon to fight on the Allied aide. During those conflicts the Canadian armed forces were relatively large and had to be equipped with transportation, weapons and other materiel, and consumable supplies. To supply those goods and service a large fraction of the nation’s economy was diverted to military purposes.

Prior to WWI, the armed forces of Canada amounted to just over 3-thousand personnel, but more than 620k military personnel became engaged in that conflict, suffering casualties of 67k killed and 173k wounded (Wikipedia, 2014f). The build-up of economic activity to support the war effort is suggested by changes in selected indicators between 1913, just before the start of the war, and 1918, when spending was at about a peak (Figure 26.4). Compared with 1913, the value of manufactured goods in 1918 was 101% larger (data are adjusted for inflation; note that a 100% increase is the same as a doubling), which was due to the manufacturing of machines and other goods needed for the war effort. The value of all exports from Canada increased by 180%, again reflecting the need to send food, weapons, and other goods to Europe to support Canadian military personnel as well as the economies of allied countries, particularly Britain.

To pay for the immense wartime expenditures the federal government increased its revenues in various ways. This included the imposition of what at the time was said to be a “temporary” tax on the income of working Canadians, although that levy was never repealed (its legacy is our system of personal income tax). However, the increase in federal revenues was grossly insufficient to pay for the actual expenditures on the war effort, and so the debt of the Government of Canada increased by 162% between 1913 and 1918. The total direct expenditure on the war by the federal government over 1915 to 1920, including the demobilization, was about $1,670 million (year-1918 dollars; Government of Canada, 1921).

Figure 26.4. Changes in selected economic indicators of Canada relevant to expenditures during the First World War. The data are in millions of year-1918 dollars, and so are adjusted for wartime inflation. Source: Data from Government of Canada (1917, 1921), corrected for inflation using Bank of Canada (2011).

The economic effects on Canada of WWII were even larger than those of WWI. About 1.1 million people served in the armed forces of Canada during that war, suffering casualties of 45k killed and 54k wounded. The cost of the war effort is suggested by changes in selected economic indicators between 1936 before the start of the war, and 1945 when spending was at about a peak (Figure 26.5). Compared with 1936, the value of manufactured goods in Canada was 120% larger, mostly because of the need to manufacture weapons, machines and other goods for the war effort. The value of all exports increased by 175%, again reflecting the need to send food, weapons, and other goods to Europe and Asia to support Canadian military personnel as well as allied countries, especially Britain. To pay for the wartime expenditures the federal government increased its revenues by 478%, mostly by raising taxes. Nevertheless, the revenue increase was insufficient to pay for all expenditures on the war effort, and so the federal debt increased by 195% between 1936 and 1945. The total direct expenditure by the Government of Canada on the war over the years 1940 to 1946, including the demobilization, was about $18,943 million (year-1945 dollars; Government of Canada, 1947).

Figure 26.5. Changes in selected economic indicators of Canada relevant to expenditures during the Second World War. The data are in millions of year-1945 dollars. Source: Data from Government of Canada (1947), corrected for inflation between 1936 and 1945 using Bank of Canada (2011).

The armed forces are also important employers in many countries. Globally, about 92.6 million people have military employment, including 20.6M in the active armed forces, 42.9M in reserve forces, and 29.1M in paramilitary organizations (Wikipedia, 2015). The largest forces (active forces + reserves + paramilitary; 2012 data) are held by North Korea (7.7M), India (4.8M), China (3.9M), South Korea (3.7M), Russia (3.4M), and the United States (2.2M). Canada has about 65,700 active military personnel and 34,000 reservists.

Even larger numbers of people are employed in civilian industries that service military interests, ranging from the manufacturing of weapons and vehicles to the provision of food and fuels.

Canadian Focus 15.1. The Armed Forces of Canada Prior to Confederation in 1867, military forces in Canada consisted of regular troops of Britain that were assigned to the colony (or prior to 1758, those of France), supported by local militias of armed civilians, and sometimes by allied Aboriginal nations (Granatstein, 2002; Wikipedia 2015r). Those forces were intended for use in defense against aggression by other European powers, Aboriginal groups, or American forces (the latter particularly during the American Revolutionary War of 1775 to 1783, the War of 1812 of 1812-1814, and the Fenian Raids of 1866 to 1871). Even for some time after 1867 the responsibility for military command in Canada was vested in the British Crown and its commander-in-chief for North America. This was the case until the final removal of British army and navy units from Canada in 1906.That withdrawal led to the formation of the Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army, and Royal Canadian Air Force. However, even today, the nominal head of command is still the reigning monarch of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II, as represented by the Governor General.

The first overseas deployment of Canadian military forces was to support Britain during the Second Boer War (1899-1902) in southern Africa. A much larger international commitment occurred in Europe during the First World War (1914-1918), and then again during the Second World War (1939-1945). There were also significant participations in the Korean War (1950 to an armistice in 1953) and in Afghanistan (2001-2014). Other foreign engagements have included the First Gulf War (1991), the Kosovo War (1998-1999), and various UN-sanctioned peace-keeping missions such as those in Suez (1956-1967) and Cyprus (1954-present). In total, the Canadian forces have participated in 75 international operations since 1947.

Canadian defence policy is established by elected political leaders of the Government of Canada, led by the Prime Minister and the Minster of National Defence. Since the end of the Second World War, that policy has had three broad objectives: (1) the defence of Canada; (2) the defence of North America in cooperation with the U.S.; and (3) contributing to international security. During the era of the Cold War of 1946 to 1991, much of the defence policy was intended to contribute to a collective security of Western Europe and North America in the face of military threats from the Soviet bloc of communist nations. During that period substantial ground and air forces were based in Western Europe and operated within the command structure of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Following the end of the Cold War, however, the focus of NATO has been extended to international security operations in other parts of the world, especially in Afghanistan, the Balkan region, and Libya.

The present defence policy of Canada was established in 2006 by a new Conservative Government. The Canadian military is now being oriented and equipped to fulfill six core missions:

  • to conduct routine national operations, including in the Arctic regions of Canada, as well as continental ones through the auspices of the North American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD)
  • to respond to a major terrorist attack
  • to support civilian authorities during a crisis caused by a natural disaster in Canada
  • to conduct a major international operation for an extended period
  • to deploy forces for a shorter period in response to military or natural crises elsewhere in the world
  • to provide support to major international events in Canada

The Canadian forces are funded at an annual level of about $22.6 billion (in 2013), which ranked 14th in the world (Wikipedia. 2015r,s). However, in some years the base funding is augmented to support non-baseline expenses of new missions, such as those recently occurring in Afghanistan and Libya. The number of regular personnel is about 68-thousand, and there are an additional 51-thousand in reserve forces, with the total number ranking 74th in the world.

The Government of Canada has embarked on initiatives to build the stocks of military equipment and further to improve them with advanced technologies. This program included the acquisition of equipment needed for the mission in Afghanistan, such as battle tanks, armoured personnel carriers, artillery, and unmanned air drones. There are also initiatives to replace or build the air fleet, including the acquisition of C-130 Hercules and C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft, CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, and F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets. A process is also being implemented to renew the naval fleet, including the construction of 15 new warships to replace the existing 15 frigates and destroyers, plus 2-3 new support vessels and 6-8 smaller vessels to patrol coastal and arctic waters.

Environmental Damage

All wars result in some amount of carnage (deaths) and mayhem (destruction). Of course, this varies tremendously depending on the scale of the conflict and the ways that the fighting is conducted. Obviously, relatively small clashes may not cause a lot of environmental damage. At the other end of the spectrum, the largest possible wars, which could involve the use of existing stockpiles of nuclear weapons, would potentially obliterate the biosphere. This would happen as a consequence of the immense explosions as well as the resulting catastrophic fires and climatic consequences of the release of enormous amounts of particulates and gases to the atmosphere.

The environmental effects of warfare can be organized into a number of topic areas, including the following major ones:

  • the depletion of non-renewable resources such as metals and fossil fuels, and renewable ones such as agricultural soil capability and forest cover
  • environmental and ecological damage by air, soil, and water pollution
  • the destruction of biodiversity by habitat damage and uncontrolled hunting
  • damage caused to the infrastructure of society and its economy However, the environmental consequences of warfare are exceedingly complex and so they cannot be generalized. Moreover, there have been remarkably few studies of environmental damages caused by warfare, even though they can be devastating. In this section we will examine the subject area by looking at information and examples from selected conflicts, including potential scenarios for a nuclear war.

In fact, a deliberate strategy of war may be to cause intense environmental damage in order to destroy the economic capacity of an enemy. This might be referred to as ecocide – an attempt to cause severe environmental destruction as a tactic of warfare. An early such action was undertaken by Scipio Africanus the Younger (185-129 BCE), a Roman consul who defeated the Carthaginians in the Third (and final) Punic War of 146 BCE. Having achieved victory, he then ordered his troops to utterly raze the city of Carthage (in Tunisia) and is also said to have devastated the surrounding agricultural land by spreading large amounts of salt to poison the soil (Wikipedia, 2015h).

Conventional Munitions

Tremendous amounts of conventional munitions are used in warfare – the explosive potential of this weaponry is based on very rapid, energy-releasing, chemical reactions. The intent of their use is mostly to blow up buildings, equipment, and people, but damage is also caused to other components of the environment, such as forests and other habitats. In this section we examine environmental and other damages caused by the use of conventional munitions. In a later section we will examine nuclear explosives, whose immense power is based on fission or fusion reactions.

During the Second World War about 21 million tonnes (Mt) of conventional explosives was used, 36% of them by U.S. forces, 42% by Germans, and the rest by other combatants (Westing, 1985a). During the Korean War, the total use of munitions was 2.9 Mt, 90% by U.S. and its allied forces. In the Second Indochina War the expenditure was 14.3 Mt, more than 95% by U.S. and allied forces.

Although subsequent wars have been extremely violent, their total use of explosive munitions has been much smaller than in the ones just noted. This was because the conflicts were relatively brief and much of the bombing was highly focussed on well-defined targets. This has been especially the case for the U.S.-led Gulf War of 1990-1991, and then from 2001 the U.S.-led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan during the still on-going “War on Terror.” Much of the bombing during those conflicts involved “smart weapons” that were accurately guided to their targets by lasers devices, pre-programmed geographic information systems, and/or battlefield technicians remotely monitoring the pathway of bombs and missiles to their targets on video screens. For instance, in the brief but intense Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, about 0.12 Mt were exploded, almost all by the U.S.-led coalition forces (Barnaby, 1991).

In the following sections we examine some of the environmental damages associated with the use of explosive munitions, beginning with the First World War. Although enormous quantities of munitions were exploded during these conflicts, there have been remarkably few studies of the non-human environmental damages. Rather, the focus of research has been on the misery caused to people through deaths and injuries, and the destruction of buildings and other infrastructure. Nevertheless, severe environmental damage was caused in many affected regions, and it is useful to look at some of the obvious indicators of those effects.

The World Wars

The First and Second World Wars are the most prominent conflicts ever waged, particularly in terms of the loss of human lives. Both conflicts occurred over widespread areas and caused terrible mortality, destroyed cities, and disrupted civilization in many other ways. Although the ecological damages were also severe they were never much studied and so are poorly quantified. They also have not been commonly thought of as important impacts of these wars, in comparison with the human tragedies that were caused. Despite that perception, awful environmental damage was associated with those wars.

To some degree the ecological effects of these conflicts can be gained from literary images of the time, a number of which describe the devastation caused to forests and other ecosystems. This is especially true of some of the literature emerging from the First World War. The Western Front was located in the coastal-plain lowlands of Belgium and France where for years huge armies fought back-and-forth over terrain webbed with elaborate trenchworks. Offensives gains were small, hard-won, and required the wastage of many people and copious materiel. The intense and long lasting confrontations devastated the agricultural terrain and woodlands of the battlefields.

Some of the worst effects occurred in flat and poorly drained lowlands of the Flanders region of Belgium. The city and vicinity of Ypres were devastated and were described like this: “In this landscape nothing existed but a measureless bog of military rubble, shattered houses, and tree stumps. It was pitted with shell craters containing fetid water. Overhead hung low clouds of smoke and fog. The very ground was soured by poison gas.” (Wolff, 1958). The deep clay soil of Flanders was churned into a sticky, glutinous morass by artillery explosions and the movements of hordes of men and machinery: “Because of the impervious clay, the rain cannot escape and tends to stagnate over large areas … the low-lying, clayey soil, torn by shells and sodden with rain, turned to a succession of vast, muddy pools … the ground remains perpetually saturated … gluey, intolerable mud … liquid mud … molasses-like topsoil.”

The devastation of forests can be appreciated from excerpts from literature of the time based on field observations: “The scene in No Man’s Land … was indeed a chilling one … Woods were empty fields masked by what seemed to be a few short poles stuck in the ground. … Gaunt, blackened remnants of trees drip in the one-time forests. … Houthulst Forest, shelled day and night throughout six hundred acres of broken tree stumps, wreckage, and swamps – the acme of hideousness, a Calvary of misery.” (Wolff, 1958). Another passage describes how a forest was dismembered by a bombardment: “When a copse was caught in a fury of shells the trees flew uprooted through the air like a handful of feathers; in a flash the area became, as in a magicians trick, as barren as the expanse around it.”

Beyond the battle zones forests were being frantically harvested to supply an unconstrained war effort (Freedman, 1995). Belgium lost almost all of its forested area, while France lost about 10%. In Britain the timber harvesting rate was increased by more than 20-fold and about half of the existing forest was cut during the Great War. The most important need for timber was for use as shaft props to help prevent cave-ins of underground coal mines, because there was a tremendous demand for that strategic fuel. Great increases in the rates of forest harvesting also occurred in Europe during the Second World War.

It must have seemed perverse to many of the observers at the time, but during the growing season some kinds of birds and wildflowers could be abundant in the seemingly devastated battle zones of the Western Front and elsewhere. There were observations of birdlife as being “almost normal” within a short distance of front-line trenches (Gladstone, 1919). The house sparrow (Passer domesticus) was described as “plentiful and unconcerned in half felled orchards and ruined houses.” Many anecdotes described how some birds nested in the midst of apparent devastation, and how they sang and otherwise went about their lives during bombardments and assaults.

One of the most famous poems to come out of the Great War, written by John McCrae, a Canadian physician and Lieutenant Colonel, makes note of abundant red-flowered poppies (Papaver rhoeas) and the songs of Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) in a graveyard in Flanders:

  "In Flanders fields the poppies blow
   Between the crosses, row on row,
   That mark our place; and in the sky
   The larks, still bravely singing, fly
   Scarce heard amid the guns below."        (In Flanders Fields; 1915)

Even today, on Remembrance Day, which occurs in November 11 to commemorate the end of the War, many Canadians and other people wear an artificial red poppy on their chest as a tribute to the many people of the armed services who died in that and subsequent wars.

A number of species have been rendered endangered as a consequence of warfare. The last wild Père Doavid’s deer (Elaphurus diavidianus) were killed by foreign troops during the Chinese Boxer Rebellion of 1898-1900, although the species survives in captivity (Westing, 1980). The European bison (Bison bonasus) was almost made extinct during the First World War by hunting to provide food for troops, and was again decimated during the Second World War, although it was afterward protected and has since recovered somewhat in forested areas of central and eastern Europe. In Africa, various species of large animals have become increasingly endangered as a consequence of widescale and lingering wars and insurrections, during which a lax enforcement of hunting laws results in much illegal killing of wild animals for bushmeat and valuable body parts. The monetary incentives for poaching endangered rhinos (Ceratotherium simum and Diceros bicornis) are especially great because of the value of their horns, and for African elephant (Loxodontia africana) because of their ivory tusks.

There have also been instances of certain wild animals increasing in abundance as an indirect consequence of warfare, usually because of decreased commercial hunting. During the First and Second World Wars, the abundance of gamebirds such as grouse and pheasants increased markedly in Britain and some other countries because of less hunting pressure (Gooders, 1983). The populations of some raptorial birds such as falcons and hawks also increased because most gamekeepers had been recruited into military service and so they were not culling these supposedly injurious predators of gamebirds. During the Second World War, the stocks of fish increased in the North Atlantic, as did whales in the Southern Ocean, and fur-bearing mammals in northern and eastern Europe, all because of less hunting (Clark, 1947; Westing, 1980; Freedman, 1995).

Second Indochina War

Enormous amounts of munitions were also exploded during the Second Indochina War of 1961-1975. The quantity used by U.S. forces alone was more than 14.3 Mt, about double that used by the U.S. during World War II (Martin and Hiebert, 1985; Westing, 1976, 1985a). About half of the explosive tonnage was delivered by aerial bombardment, half by artillery, and less than 1% from ship-borne artillery. The U.S. forces dropped about 20 million aerial bombs, fired 230M artillery shells, and used more than 100M grenades and millions of rockets and mortar shells.

This vast outpouring of high explosives caused tremendous damage to the landscape of Indochina (Orians and Pfeiffer, 1970; Westing, 1976, 1982). About 2.5 million craters were formed in 1967 and 1968 alone by the explosion of 225- and 340-kg bombs dropped in saturation patterns from high-flying B-52 bombers, each sortie of which produced a bombed-out area of about 65 ha. The craters had a typical diameter of about 15 m, depth of 12 m, and usually filled with water and then provided habitat for mosquitoes and other aquatic biota. In agricultural areas, some of the water-filled craters were eventually developed for use in aquaculture. In addition, explosions and the use of napalm (incendiary bombs made of a gelled petroleum) often started forest and grassland fires, which often affected extensive terrain. The total area affected in these ways was about 8.1 million ha or 11% of the landscape of Indochina, including 26% of South Vietnam, the main battlefield. One military observer offered the following impression: “The landscape was torn as if by an angry giant. The bombs uprooted trees and scattered them in crazy angles over the ground. The tangled jungle undergrowth was swept aside around the bomb craters.” (Westing, 1976).

The Gulf and Afghanistan Wars

The first Gulf War was fought by an anti-Iraq coalition led by the United States (Canada participated in the aerial war). The war began with an extensive 37-day bombardment of Iraqi military and infrastructure targets, followed by a 9-day ground war. An estimated 120-thousand tonnes of explosives were expended during the conflict, almost all by coalition forces (Barnaby, 1991). The coalition bombardment was relatively “efficient” in the sense that one tonne of explosive caused about one enemy-military death, compared with about 2t per death in in the Vietnam War and 4t in Korea. The higher kill rate by bombardment in the Gulf War was partly due to the frequent use of “smart” weapons that could be accurately guided to their targets, along with the open exposure of many Iraqi military units in desert terrain.

A second Gulf War occurred in 2003 when a U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” invaded Iraq to depose its government led by Saddam Hussein (this action was not sanctioned by the U.N. and Canada did not participate). The main reasons given to justify that war by its main advocates, the United States and Britain, were: (1) the presumption that Iraq had assisted Islamist terrorists in the airplane-bombing of the World Trade Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, both on September 11, 2001, and (2) the accusation that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction and so was a grave threat to its neighbouring states. However, the evidence for both of those allegations was weak and no proof was ever provided for either of them. This war began with a 3-week bombardment of military and infrastructure targets, mostly with smart weapons, followed by a 3-week ground war that defeated the Iraqi military forces. A provisional Iraqi government was soon put in place, and later an elected one. Unfortunately, however, Iraq is still wracked by deadly sectarian violence, mostly between Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, and well as a bloody insurgency intended to create a fundamentalist Islamic State in the region.

A related war began in Afghanistan two years earlier, in 2001. The goal of that conflict was to replace an Islamist Taliban regime with a more western-friendly government. This war involved an invasion of Afghanistan by U.S. and U.K. forces, greatly assisted by an anti-Taliban alliance of northern Afghanis called the United Front (or Northern Alliance). The initial conflict involved a brief aerial bombardment of Taliban military concentrations followed by a ground war conducted mainly by the United Front. Once the Taliban were deposed, a coalition of U.N.-sanctioned forces (with Canadian participation) was deployed to provide military support for a provisional Government of Afghanistan and later an elected one.

The western coalition has tried to re-build civilian infrastructure of the country, which had been devastated by several decades of conflict associated with an earlier invasion by Russia to support a then-Communist government, followed by several rounds of sectarian conflicts and civil war. However, the brief war to depose the Taliban has been followed by on-going sectarian violence and guerrilla conflict with Taliban forces based out of neighbouring Pakistan.

In both the Afghan War and the Second Gulf War most of the mortality occurred during the insurgency periods rather than during the “major conflict” to depose the previous government. Although there were brief periods in these wars during which the coalition forces engaged in intensive bombing, much of that involved “smart weapons” and so the tonnage of explosives used was considerably smaller than during the First Gulf War, and enormously less than in the other conflicts examined in this section.

Legacy Munitions

Explosives that remain in place after a conflict has ended are referred to as legacy munitions or unexploded ordinance (UXOs). There are several kinds: (1) large numbers of unexploded bombs that may yet be deadly if dug up, (2) fields of land mines, and (3) unused artillery munitions that can be easily made into improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and planted as mines beside roadways.

Conflicts that involved a great deal of artillery fire and aerial bombing leave abundant remnants of (UXOs) that are lingering hazards on the landscape (Westing, 1984a, 1985b; Martin, and Hiebert, 1985). In fact, in older UXOs the detonator and main charge may become more unstable, which may increase the risk to bomb-disposal experts or anyone else that disturbs the ordinance. Many civilians have been killed by UXOs, often years after the end of the conflict. In Poland, about 90-million explosive items have been discovered and removed since the end of the Second World War, and the cleansing is still on-going. There are similar problems in all theatres of that war, and in all conflicts of the past century-and-a-half. For instance, at least 10% of U.S. ordnance did not explode in the Second Indochina War, resulting in a deadly legacy of about 2-million unexploded aerial bombs, 23-million artillery shells, and tens of millions of grenades. Laos was the most heavily bombed country during that war, in terms of bombs per unit-area. More than half a million aerial bombing missions by the U.S. dropped about 5Mt of ordnance on Laos. This included huge numbers of anti-personnel cluster bombs, each of which scattered hundreds of bomblets the size of a tennis ball (Wikipedia, 2015i). An estimated 288-million cluster bomblets and 75-million unexploded bombs remained across Laos after the end of the war, resulting in a deadly legacy that still kills or wounds many people; between 1996 and 2009 more than 1-million UXOs were destroyed in Laos, freeing up 23-thousand hectares of mostly agricultural land.

The use of explosive mines adds to the lingering hazards, because many of the devices are not recovered after the hostilities are over. Almost all are weight-triggered land mines that are buried in fields as anti-personnel weapons or in roads to blow up vehicles, but some are marine mines used to damage military vessels or commercial shipping. Modern anti-personnel mines can be extremely difficult to find and remove because they are constructed almost entirely of plastic and so cannot be magnetically detected. Land mines may be laid in enormous numbers – even in the brief First Gulf War about 6-million were used, and their remnants will pose an explosive hazard for many years (McKinnon and Vine, 1991).

During a long-running civil war in Cambodia from the 1970s to the early 1990s, land mines killed many civilians and injured even more – by the end of that conflict about 35-thousand people had undergone leg amputations because of accidental mine injuries, and even at the end in 1990 the rate was 6-thousand per year (Stover and Charles, 1991). In 2006, 15-20-thousand people, almost all of them civilians, were being killed world-wide by accidental explosions involving land mines (UN News Center, 1997). This was about half the mortality rate of ten years previously, when a United Nations treaty prohibiting the manufacturing of the devices went into effect. Afghanistan is another heavily mined country, with as many as 10 million having been deployed since a series of conflicts began there in 1979 (ICBM, 2011). About 80% of the mines are anti-personnel devices and 20% were targeted against military vehicles.

Chemical Weapons

Weapons that cause deaths or injuries through exposure to toxic chemicals are referred to as chemical weapons. Large-scale chemical warfare began during World War I, when both sides of that conflict used more than 100-thousand tonnes of lethal anti-personnel agents (Westing, 1977). These were deadly gases and vapours that caused devastating injuries to the lungs, such as chlorine, chloropicrin, phosgene, and trichloromethyl chloroformate, as well as the skin-blistering agent called mustard gas. These chemical weapons caused about 1.3-million casualties, including 85-thousand deaths. Chemical-weapon UXOs are still a dangerous legacy of that war in Belgium and France, where most of the chemical weapons were used.

Gaseous weapons were also used by Iraqi forces against those of Iran during the 1981-1987 war between those countries. Those weapons killed about 20-thousand Iranian soldiers and injured another 80-thousand, plus many civilian casualties. The Iraqis also used chemical weapons when fighting an Iranian-supported rebellion in its northern region of Kurdistan, the best-known case being an aerial attack in 1988 on the town of Halabja, using the nerve gases sabin and tabun, and killing about 5-thousand and injuring 10-thousand, almost all of whom were civilians (McKinnon and Vine, 1991; Wikipedia, 2015j). This was the largest attack with chemical weapons ever directed against a civilian population.

The United States military used a non-lethal “harassing agent” called CS during the Second Indochina War. About 9-million kg of CS were aerially sprayed onto more than one-million ha of South Vietnam, rendering treated areas uninhabitable by people for 15-45 days (Westing, 1977). Much of the CS was sprayed over wild habitats, so there must also have been tremendous damage caused to wildlife in those places, although no studies were ever made of that likely effect.

Although not strictly speaking a tactic of warfare, the Nazi government of Germany used toxic gases in their mass-murder of civilian and military prisoners during the Second World War (Wikipedia, 2015k). The murders mostly occurred as industrial-scale killings in specially designed extermination camps. However, they were also a routine practice in many of the more numerous concentration camps where slave-labourers were incarcerated to contribute to the war effort in manufacturing. A disproportionately large fraction of the deaths was of Jews, who were the target of a genocide, but large numbers of other ethnic and political groups and prisoners of war were also killed. The total mortality in the death camps was about 4-million. Much of the killing was done in specially built gas chambers, the largest of which could be used to murder several thousand people at a time. In the use of the larger chambers, the victims would be herded inside, ostensibly for a communal shower to cleanse them after an awful trip to the camp by a cattle train. Instead, they were gassed with a fast-acting nerve poison called zyklon-B, which is a cyanide-based insecticide. The bodies were mostly burnt in fire pits or in specially constructed crematoria.

Herbicides in Vietnam

An unprecedented tactic used by the U.S. military during the Second Indochina War was to spray herbicide extensively to deprive their enemy of food production and forest cover (Boffey, 1971; Westing, 1984b; Freedman, 1995). This was a massive program that resulted in more than 1.4- million ha being sprayed, equivalent to one-seventh the area of South Vietnam. Most of the spraying involved wild habitats such as tropical forest, but about 14% was directed against cropland. The herbicide spraying began in 1961, reached a peak in 1967, and was terminated in 1971. The herbicide used most frequently was a half-and-half mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T that was known as Agent Orange, with more than 46-million kg being used. Because the intention was to cause severe damage to ecosystems, the spray rates were quite high – about 25 kg/ha or 10-times that with the same herbicides to promote the growth of conifer trees in forestry by reducing the abundance of competing vegetation.

The ecological damage caused by the defoliation program was so severe that opponents of the spraying labelled it as ecocide, which in this case was the intentional use of anti-environmental actions over a large area as a tactical component of a military strategy (Westing, 1976). Because herbicides are poisonous to plants, extensive tracts of vegetation were directly poisoned by the sprays. However, animals were indirectly affected by the extensive destruction of habitats, although that damage was never documented in any detail.

The most intensive ecological damage was caused to coastal mangrove forest, of which 110-thousand ha were sprayed, or 36% of its area in South Vietnam. Because the dominant tree species of mangrove forest are extremely sensitive to herbicides, the spraying devastated the ecosystem and created large areas of muddy barrens. By the early to mid-1980s, the sprayed areas of mangroves had substantially revegetated. However, the habitats were degraded in species composition, with the more valuable red mangrove (Rhizophora apiculata) being less abundant than originally. To some degree this problem was alleviated by planting seedlings of red mangrove over extensive areas.

Severe damage was also caused to various kinds of upland tropical forest, which were extensively devastated by the herbicide spraying. The spraying of croplands caused great damage to food production in areas controlled by enemy forces, and there were reports of illness or death of domestic livestock.

One of the most controversial aspects of the herbicide spraying was the contamination of the 2,4,5-T by a dioxin known as TCDD (2,3,7,8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin). (Dioxins are is a range of compounds that are characterized by the presence of a heterocyclic 6-membered ring, in which two carbon atoms are substituted by oxygen atoms. TCDD is considered the most toxic compound in the dioxin series. It is most famous as a contaminant in Agent Orange and in the context of a large industrial release in 1976 at Seveso, Italy.) The TCDD in the 2,4,5-T was an inadvertent by-product of the process by which the herbicide was manufactured, and it occurred in a concentration as high as 45 ppm but averaging 2.0 ppm (Westing, 1982; Freedman, 1995). As much as 170 kg of TCDD was sprayed with herbicide onto Vietnam.

TCDD is known to be extremely toxic to many kinds of animals, and even at small doses it causes birth defects and miscarriages in laboratory mammals. However, the toxicity of TCDD to people is less well understood. The most commonly reported symptom of an intense exposure is a skin condition known as chloracne, which appears similar to severe adolescent acne but is more severe and persistent. Other than chloracne, however, there is ongoing debate about whether TCDD causes cancer, birth defects, or other severe diseases in people, and even if any human mortality has been caused by exposures to this chemical.

Nevertheless, because most of the Agent Orange herbicide used in Vietnam was grossly contaminated with TCDD, there has been much concern and debate over the potential effects on people exposed to these chemicals. Even today the controversy has not been resolved, although after a complex series of lawsuits and other legal actions, in 1985 the U.S. government began to compensate military personnel who claimed to have suffered health effects as a result of work they did in the herbicide spraying in Vietnam. No compensation was ever paid to any other people, including the many citizens of Vietnam who were exposed to the herbicides and their aftermath conditions.

Image 26.2. Spaying herbicide in Vietnam. The image shows a group of four aircraft spaying a herbicide formulation (likely Agent Orange, a 50:50 mixture of 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T) over tropical forest in South Vietnam in the late 1960s. Source: National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, photo 071002-F-1234P-022;

Petroleum as a Weapon in the First Gulf War

The largest-ever marine oil spill was a tactic of “environmental warfare” during the war to liberate Kuwait in 1991. The spill was deliberate and it occurred when Iraqi forces released about 800-thousand tonnes of petroleum into the Persian Gulf from several tankers and storage tanks at a coastal ship-loading facility (Holloway and Horgan, 1991). The apparent military purpose of the deliberate spill was to prevent amphibious landings of Allied forces. Compared with spills during peacetime, not much effort was expended on recovering the spilled petroleum or treating the ecological damage, although care was taken to protect the seawater intakes of desalinization plants in Saudi Arabia because they supply most of the fresh water used in that country and so have great strategic value. Eventually, about 770 km of coast were polluted by tarry residues of this spill, mostly in Saudi Arabia. This immense spill killed 20-30-thousand seabirds and perhaps 260-thousand shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers) that forage on beaches. Marine mammals, sea turtles, and sea snakes were also killed in large numbers.

An even larger petroleum spill occurred on land when 788 Kuwaiti oil-wells were sabotaged and ignited by Iraqi forces, essentially as an act of economic terrorism (Earle, 1991). At the peak of the spill the emissions of oil were 2-6-million tonnes per day. As soon as that brief war ended a massive effort was undertaken to cap the blow-outs, and about half were capped within six months and the last one a year after the spill began. Much of the petroleum and its associated gases burned in the atmosphere, but huge amounts of oil also accumulated in oil-lakes up to 7 m deep on the land. The plumes of oily smoke from the burning wells typically rose to 3-5-thousand m in the atmosphere and sometimes could be detected more than one thousand km away. The smoke and fumes caused intense local pollution, could result in cool weather by blocking the sun, and blackened rain and snow up to several thousand kilometres away. Near the burning wells there were appalling scenes of fire, smoke, and surrounding lakes of petroleum. William Reilly, at the time the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said: “If hell had a national park, it would be those burning oil fires. … I have never seen any one place before where there was so much compressed environmental degradation.” (Popkin, 1991). There are still persistent tarry residues in the vicinity of the blowouts.

Image 26.3. Burning wellheads in Kuwait. The image shows a number of petroleum wellheads that were ignited by Iraqi forces as an act of economic terrorism at the end of the brief way to liberate Kuwait in 1991. Source: United States Army, Technical Sergeant Perry Heimer;

Nuclear War

Nuclear weapons have an immense destructive capability – it is massively larger than that of conventional munitions. Although the global inventory of nuclear weapons is considerably smaller today than when the Cold War ended in 1990, their large-scale use in a war would nevertheless cause almost unfathomable damage. The potential scale of the destruction was suggested by U.S. President John F. Kennedy (1917-1963) in a speech to the United Nations in 1961: “Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind.” His speech was given at a time of intense tensions about communism in Cuba, when the U.S. and Soviet Union did come perilously close to fighting a nuclear conflict. A nuclear war would also be an immense threat to the natural world, because it would potentially be capable of destroying ecosystems over much of the planet. The damage would initially be caused by the tremendous blasts and conflagrations that would be associated with nuclear explosions, followed by poisoning of many of the survivors by exposure to radioactive fallout and ionizing gamma radiation. These effects would likely be followed by a longer-term deterioration of climatic conditions as a result of global changes in atmospheric chemistry. The ecologist Arthur Westing (1987), who has specialized in research on the environmental effects of warfare, described a nuclear war as having the potential to be “the ultimate insult to nature.”

Nuclear Arsenals

The global nuclear arsenal reached a peak around 1985, when it totalled about 70-thousand warheads with an explosive yield of 11-20-thousand megatonnes (Mt) of TNT-equivalent (Grover and White, 1985; Westing, 1985; Sivard, 1989). (TNT is 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene, which is the key ingredient in dynamite, a commonly used explosive. The ginormous explosive yield of nuclear explosions is indicated by its equivalence in terms of megatonnes of TNT; 1 Mt = 109 kg).) This was at least one-thousand times more than the aggregate yield of conventional explosives (11 Mt) used in the Second World War (6.0 Mt) plus the Korean War (0.8 Mt) and Second Indochina War (4.1 Mt). On a per-capita basis that zenith of the global nuclear arsenal represented 3-4 tonnes of TNT per person on the planet.

Nuclear weapons can be divided into two categories based on the ways that that they are caused to explode (Freedman, 1995). So-called atom bombs (or fission bombs) are based on the “splitting” of certain fissile isotopes of uranium and/or plutonium, two heavy metals. (By definition, all atoms of an element must have the same numbers of protons in their nucleus, but the number of neutrons may vary and so therefore the atomic weight. In nuclear chemistry, an isotope is a variant of an element with a particular number of neutrons. For example, uranium may have from 141 to 146 neutrons present and so there are six isotopes, the most abundant being 235uranium and 238uranium, of which 235U is the more radioactive and so useful in nuclear power and fission bombs. For plutonium, the isotope Pt235 is the one used in fission bombs.)

In a fission bomb a chemical explosion forces a mass of enriched U235 or Pt235 to reach a critical density that causes nuclei to split into smaller units, and in the process release an enormous amount of nuclear energy as a massive explosion. Fission reactions are also used as an energy source in nuclear-fuelled power plants, but in that application the reactions are carefully controlled. Fission bombs range from relatively small devices with a yield equivalent to less than one tonne of TNT to others as large as 0.5 Mt.

The other kind of nuclear weapons are fusion bombs (or hydrogen bombs) that are based on the fusion of nuclei of deuterium and tritium, two isotopes of hydrogen. Nuclear fusion also fuels the extraordinary energy production in stars, but no technology exists to control the reaction for commercial energy production. In a hydrogen bomb, a fission explosion is used to create such enormous heat and density that the conditions are sufficient to cause hydrogen nuclei to fuse into helium, a slightly heavier element, and in the process release immense energy as a gigantic explosion. Fusion bombs have an extremely high yield, ranging up to 50 Mt of TNT equivalent.

The largest nuclear bombs are referred to as strategic weapons; they have an explosive yield of 0.60 Mt or more and are designed to be delivered by a missile or airplane over a distance of thousands of kilometres. So-called tactical weapons are much smaller and more numerous; they are intended to be used in a local battlefield, have a yield of less than 0.20 Mt, and are delivered by smaller missiles, artillery, aircraft, or torpedoes. The aggregate nuclear arsenal peaked in 1985 when there were about 70,000 nuclear weapons, including 4,300 strategic-delivery vehicles (mainly missiles but also long-range aircraft) with each carrying about six warheads (Wikipedia, 2015l). Almost all of these weapons were owned by the U.S. and the USSR, with Britain, China, and France having much smaller inventories. At that peak the global nuclear arsenal had an aggregate yield of more than 11-thousand Mt.

Fortunately, the global inventory of nuclear weapons has been substantially reduced from the mid-1980s peak. This has occurred partly because of a series of international treaties that were brokered by the United Nations, beginning with the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963, then the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1968, and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in 1996 (note, however, that not all countries with nuclear weapons have signed on to, ratified, or respected these various treaties) (Wikipedia, 2015m). Even more important, however, beginning in 1972 there have been a series of bilateral nuclear-reduction agreements signed between the U.S. and Russia (representing the former Soviet Union), most recently the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty of 2010, that have resulted in large and verified reductions in the weapons held in their arsenals. The changes in nuclear arsenals are shown in Figure 26.6. Between 1985 and 2013 the global nuclear arsenal decreased by about 72%, almost entirely because of large reductions by the U.S. and Russia.

Figure 26.6. Changes in global nuclear arsenals. Source: Data from Kristensen and Norris (2015).

As of 2015, 163 states had ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and another 20 states had signed but not ratified it (Wikipedia, 2015m). Of the countries that are known or thought to have nuclear weapons, China, Israel and the United States have signed but not ratified the Treaty, and India, North Korea and Pakistan have not signed it. Israel is signatory to the Treaty although it has never acknowledged its nuclear weapons, which are believed to number about 80 (Figure 26.7). South Africa once had nuclear weapons but they have been decommissioned, while those of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine have been passed to Russia for storage and eventual retiring. Among other countries, only Iran is thought to recently be seriously engaged in developing its own nuclear weapons (although its programs may have been suspended because of intense international pressure and economic sanctions),.

Figure 26.7. Countries holding nuclear weapons. The data are for warheads that are deployed plus those held in stockpiled reserves. Source: Data from Kristensen and Norris (2015).

To summarize this section: the world now has many fewer nuclear weapons than several decades ago, but the ones that still exist amount to an enormous and exceedingly destructive arsenal should they ever be used. Moreover, the number of countries with nuclear weapons is increasing, a fact that poses additional risks of them being used in a war.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

There has never been a nuclear war, but there are two instances in which nuclear bombs were used in a war. These fission bombs were used by the U.S. against Japan during the Second World War, and within a few days of their use the war in the Pacific ended with an unconditional surrender. The bomb dropped on the city of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, caused an explosion with a yield of about 0.015 Mt of TNT, and that on Nagasaki several days later 0.021 Mt (Barnaby and Rotblat, 1982; Pittock et al., 1985). Although these nuclear bombs caused immense explosions in comparison with any made by a conventional device, they were small compared with recent strategic bombs that are typically about 0.6 Mt but can range up to 50 Mt.

The bombs dropped in Japan were exploded in the atmosphere at a height of about ½ km, in order to further spread their destructive impact compared with a ground-burst. The Hiroshima bomb killed about 140-thousand people or 40% of that city’s population (estimates of the mortality range from 90k to 166k), while the Nagasaki device killed 74-thousand or 26% of the population (60k-80k). Most of the deaths and destruction were caused by the combined effects of immense blasts and thermal (heat) energy. About half of the explosive energy induced a blast wave that travelled at the speed of sound (about 11 km in 30 sec) and caused severe damage to buildings as far as 2-3 km from the epicentre of the explosions. Thermal energy accounted for another third of the energy and created a fireball that was intense enough to vaporize people near the epicentre, to ignite wood as far as 2 km away, and to cause skin burns in people up to 4 km distant. The firestorms resulted in burnt-out areas of 13 km2 at Hiroshima and 7 km2 at Nagasaki. In total, about 2/3 of the buildings in Hiroshima were destroyed and 1/4 of those in Nagasaki.

About 15% of the explosive energy of those atomic bombs was expressed as ionizing radiation, of which 1/3 was released within one minute of the explosions and 2/3 more gradually by radioactive decay of fallout material. Ionizing radiation has am energy content that is high enough to remove an electron from an atom or molecule. This produces ionized free radicals with unpaired electrons that make atoms or molecules highly chemically reactive. Various kinds of highly energetic subatomic particles are ionizing, including alpha and beta particles, neutrons, and cosmic rays. The high-energy photons of short-wavelength portions of the electromagnetic spectrum are also ionizing, especially ultraviolet, X-rays, and gamma radiation. The free radicals produced by ionizing radiation disrupt biological systems by damaging DNA and other vital biochemicals, thereby disrupting genetic and physiological systems and potentially resulting in mutations, diseases including cancer, radiation sickness, and ultimately death. There are natural sources of ionizing radiation in the environment, such as solar ultraviolet radiation, while anthropogenic sources include exposure to X-ray or radioactive medical procedures, or to gamma radiation and radioactive fallout from nuclear explosions.

The enormous fires caused by the explosions induced upward-flowing convective air-masses that cooled as they rose high in the atmosphere, condensing their moisture into a “black rain” that was heavily laden with soot and radioactive particles. Among other effects, the ionizing radiation caused many survivors of the explosions to experience “radiation sickness” whose symptoms included weakness, nausea, diarrhoea, vomiting, fever, hair loss, blood poisoning, and bleeding from the bowels, gums, nose, and genitals. Some of the follow-up studies of longer-term survivors of the explosions have found higher incidences of eye diseases, blood disorders, and certain cancers, but other studies did not confirm those results.

Image 26.4. Aftermath of the nuclear explosion at Nagasaki in August, 1945. The image shows an extensive area of devastated urban terrain, including a Buddhist temple in the foreground. Source: Photo by Corporal Lynn P. Walker, Jr., U.S. Marine Corps, NARA FILE #: 127-N-136176;

Nuclear Test Explosions

The development of nuclear weapons was accompanied by large numbers of test explosions, the first series of which were above-ground and subsequent ones within the ground. The first test of a nuclear weapon happened in 1945 in New Mexico and involved a fission device with a yield of 0.02 Mt, while the first hydrogen bomb was exploded in 1952 at Enewetak atoll in the south Pacific, and the largest-ever was a 50 Mt blast at Novaya Zemlya in 1961 in northern Siberia (Wikipedia, 2015n).

The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 resulted in a ban of signatory nations undertaking any testing of nuclear weapons in the atmosphere, underwater, or in outer space, although underground test blasts were still allowed. However, France did not ratify the treaty until 1974 and continued atmospheric testing until then, and China until 1980. The Soviet Union conducted its last underground test blast in 1990, the U.K. in 1991, the U.S. in 1992, and China and France in 1996. These countries pledged to not conduct any further nuclear tests when the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was enacted in 1996. However, non-signatory India and Pakistan have conducted test-blasts as recently as 1998 and North Korea in 2009. In total, there have been about 2,083 nuclear test explosions, 42% of them by the U.S., 34% by Russia, and 10% by France.

A limited amount of information about environmental impacts is available for some of the above-ground test explosions conducted by the U.S. during the 1950s. Those detonations caused severe damage to surrounding ecosystems, with the intensity of the effects rapidly decreasing with distance from the epicentre. After the explosions, the affected habitats gradually recovered. For example, an area in the Mohave Desert of Nevada was used to test 89 above-ground devices with a yield up to 0.07 Mt (Shields and Wells, 1962; Shields et al., 1963). The explosions cleared core areas of 73-204 ha of all obvious life and caused severe damage to vegetation on an additional 400-1375 ha, but no obvious damage was observed beyond an area of 3,255 ha. The damaged areas were invaded by pioneering species of plants, which were later replaced by longer-lived species to establish relatively stable communities.

A few studies were also made of above-ground tests on islands in the South Pacific. One researcher studied plants on Belle Island, located 4.3 km from a 1952 blast on Elugelab Island (Palumbo, 1962). The island was obliterated by the blast and transformed into a water-filled crater. Although the vegetation on Belle Island suffered radiation damage after the detonation, an apparently complete recovery was made within only six months. This observation suggests that at least some biota that survives a nearby above-ground nuclear explosion may have considerable resilience and an ability to recuperate from the disturbance.

Consequences of a Nuclear War

To some degree the destruction that would be caused by nuclear bombs can be predicted based on observations made during test explosions of various magnitude, and also on the results of computer-based models of physical processes. When a nuclear bomb is exploded, about 40-54% of the enormous release of energy typically occurs as a blast wave, 30-50% as thermal radiation, and 5-7% as ionizing radiation (Westing, 1977; Wikipedia, 2015o). To maximize the damage caused, strategic weapons would likely be exploded in the lower atmosphere, at a height less than 1,000 m, which results in less of the energy being absorbed by the ground.

In a large-scale exchange of strategic nuclear weapons not all of the arsenal of the warring parties would be successfully delivered. This is mostly because much of the arsenal would be destroyed by pre-emptive strikes or would be intercepted in flight. In the mid-1980s, studies were made of a range of damage scenarios caused by the likely scale of nuclear explosions during a hypothetical conflict. One representative estimate used for the purposes of modelling was for the detonation of 5 6-thousand megatons of nuclear weapons (Grover and White, 1985; Harwell and Grover, 1985). That study was made during the “Cold War” and almost all of the bombs were presumed to be targeted on the Northern Hemisphere, especially on the United States and Soviet Union, who were the most dominant potential adversaries. However, countries allied with either of those countries would also be heavily targeted. This would have included various “western capitalist” nations such as Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan, as well as those of the “communist bloc” such as China, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Poland. It was presumed that military installations would be the primary targets of the nuclear assaults. However, cities would also be attacked because they commonly host military infrastructure and in any event are the economic heart of any country.

The scenario of a 5-6-thousand Mt exchange was predicted to cause the deaths of about 20% of the global population, including 75% of the people living in the United States (the mortality would relatively less in Canada, although some of our major cities would have been targeted). However, a large fraction of the survivors would have suffered from terrible injuries or radiation sickness, and with so much of the infrastructure of civilization destroyed they would not have been able to access much in the way of medical treatment. Most of the deaths and injuries would be caused by thermal radiation, but blast, fire, ionizing radiation, and falling buildings and other built structures would also be exceedingly dangerous.

Clearly, the immediate consequences of an all-out nuclear war would be dreadful. It would involve a crushing loss of human life, physical devastation, and incapacitation of social systems. This terrible misery would essentially destroy the civilization of the affected countries, and a fast recovery would be impossible. Nevertheless, people would probably survive in some places remote from the explosions, although they would then have to deal with extremely degraded environmental conditions in the aftermath of a nuclear war.

Extensive damage would also be caused to ecosystems. The scale of damage that would be caused to forested terrain by individual air-bursts of three sizes was estimated by modelling studies (Table 18.1). Close to the epicentre, most damage would be caused by the force of the blast, and to a lesser degree by ionizing radiation. It is likely, however, that much larger areas would be consumed by fires ignited by the thermal radiation, and those conflagrations would account for most of the damage. Vertebrate animals would mostly be killed by thermal radiation, but many would die later on from radiation sickness caused by exposure to ionising radiation.

Table 26.1. Damage caused by nuclear air-bursts of various sizes in forested terrain. The data are estimates of the areas that would be affected by various kinds of damage, ranging from trees being blown down to poisoning by ionizing radiation. Note that these estimates do not include damage that would be caused by the spread of wildfires ignited by the explosion, the extent of which would largely be determined by weather following the blast, especially the windspeed and direction. Source: Data from Westing (1977).

Climatic Effects

The immense explosions and fires resulting from a large-scale exchange of nuclear weapons would cause massive amounts of tiny particulates, soot, and greenhouse gases to be injected high into the atmosphere. These materials would have a lingering effect on the absorptive and reflective qualities of the atmosphere, which would result in changes in large-scale climatic regimes. Studies of the potential consequences of a nuclear war for global climate have been made using computer models of atmospheric properties that were initially developed to do research on global warming (Chapter 17). Instead of using the models to study the climatic effects of increases of greenhouse gases, they were modified to examine the likely consequences of the injection of fine inorganic particulates and carbonaceous smoke into the upper atmosphere (Crutzen and Birks, 1982; NRC, 1985; Pittock et al., 1985; Stephens and Birks, 1985; Robock et al., 2007; Toon et al., 1990, 2007; 2008).

One mid-1980s scenario examined an exchange of 6.5k Mt of nuclear weapons. It was predicted that the explosions and fires would result in the injection of 330-825 million tonnes of fine particulates and 180-300 Mt of sooty smoke into the atmosphere, much of which would enter the stratosphere and so would be extremely persistent ((NRC, 1985; Stephens and Birks, 1985). These materials would have a substantial cooling effect. The inorganic dust would do this by increasing the albedo (reflectivity) of the atmosphere, which would decrease the penetration of sunlight to the surface and result in a cooling of the lower atmosphere. The smoke would absorb sunlight at a high altitude and then re-radiate much of that energy back to space, while also creating a stable upper layer of warm air that would retard the processes by which particles are removed from the atmosphere. These various mechanisms could reduce the energy received at the surface of the planet by more than 90%. If this were to occur, there would be severe consequences for climate, including persistent cold or even freezing temperatures, a phenomenon that has been labelled as a “nuclear winter” or if less severe, a “nuclear autumn.”

Another study was done in 2006 with updated computer models of the global climate system (Robock et al, 2007). Two scenarios were examined for a large-scale war – one involved the use of the entire nuclear arsenal of the time, and the other one-third of it. The study predicted that about 150 Mt of smoke would be released to the atmosphere by the larger war, and 50 Mt by the lesser one. In the 150 Mt war, the prediction was for a global average surface cooling of -7 to -8°C that would persists for years, and even after a decade would be -4°C. In view of the global average cooling during the most recent ice age being about -5°C, the speed and magnitude of the nuclear influence would represent an immense deterioration of the global climate. Moreover, the cooling would be most intense on the continents, because the oceans are thermally buffered to a much greater degree. The study predicted that the cooling could reach as low as -20°C in large areas of North America and more than -30°C over much of Eurasia.

There would be severe ecological consequences if a nuclear winter were to occur (Grover and Harwell, 1985; Harwell and Hutchinson, 1985; Grime, 1986; Westing, 1987). Both agricultural and natural vegetation would be injured or killed by prolonged chilling and freezing, especially if these stressors occurred during the growing season. This would have devastating effects on agricultural production and on natural ecosystems. The effects of cold temperatures in the oceans might be less because those massive waterbodies have a great deal of thermal buffering. Of course, regardless of the cooling, the productivity all ecosystems would be decreased as a result of the persistent blocking of incoming sunlight, which is needed to drive photosynthesis.

Further injuries to vegetation and animals would be caused by a predicted increase in the penetration of solar ultraviolet radiation as a result of damage caused to the stratospheric ozone layer, and also by the presence of large amounts of toxic gases in the lower atmosphere, such as ozone and sulphur dioxide. These lingering effects of the aftermath conditions of a nuclear conflict would add to the enormous ecological damage that was immediately caused by the explosions through blast, thermal radiation, ionizing radiation, and wildfires.

Although the environmental consequences of a large-scale nuclear war cannot be predicted with much accuracy, it is clear that they would be horrific. There would be a bleak post-holocaust future for humans and the biosphere. It is vital that people have a broad understanding of the terrible consequences of a nuclear war, and of all kinds of warfare, so that they will support the necessary actions to prevent them from occurring.

In fact, optimism for a world devoid of extreme conflicts is quite widespread in society. Moreover, it is embedded in the teachings of major religions. This is exemplified by the following quotation from the Old Testament of the Bible (Isaiah 2, 4; New American Standard Bible):

And He will judge between the nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.

This passage suggests that conflicts amongst people can be resolved by fair and impartial judgements, and if this is done there is no need for weapons or for war. While the quotation suggests that an omnipotent power such as God can be such an arbiter, in the modern world it is more likely that international organizations will play that role, as we examine in the following section.

Avoiding War

Probably all wars have begun with the proponents and most of their supporters having optimistic and enthusiastic beliefs of triumph. Nevertheless, such conflicts result in misery to many of the people who become involved, while also causing terrible damage to the environment. This has been especially true of wars of the past century, which have been characterized by increasingly sophisticated and destructive weapons that are commonly directed against civilians in addition to enemy combatants. Because of an increasingly widespread recognition of the dreadful consequences of wars, powerful social forces have become engaged in doing what is possible to prevent conflicts from occurring.

These anti-war forces operate within all countries, but are especially powerful in liberal democracies because people and organizations under that political system are allowed to freely express their views, so long as they do so in ways that are non-violent and otherwise legal. In this sense, liberal democracy may itself be regarded as a force for peace, because it fosters an open discourse about the health and ills of society, including whether it is necessary to engage in violent conflicts to resolve issues that could potentially be resolved by a negotiated settlement.

In fact, because of wide recognition of the appalling consequences of warfare, governments have worked together to institute various international mechanisms for resolving conflicts among nations. Some of these are binational or multinational treaties and other agreements among particular countries, while others are global in scope and have been implemented under the auspices of the United Nations. Key international agreements relative to the prevention or mitigated conduct of war include the following (Wikipedia, 2015p): 1919 – Covenant of the League of Nations (this was the founding of the League of Nations, which in 1945 was replaced by the United Nations) 1929 – Third Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (updated in 1949) 1945 – Charter of the United Nations (the founding of the United Nations) 1949 – Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (a UN treaty) 1951 – Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (UN) 1963 – Limited Test Ban Treaty (UN) 1968 – Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (UN) 1972 – Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (UN) 1972 – Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (UN) 1991 – Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (nations of the North American Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact) 1991 – Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (U.S. and Russia) 1993 – Chemical Weapons Convention (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) 1996 – Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (UN) 1996 – Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention (UN) 2002 – Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (U.S. and Russia) 2010 – New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (U.S. and Russia)

In addition to these sorts of international agreements, the United Nations and other organizations sometimes undertake actions to prevent or end local or regional conflicts. Within that context, peace-making refers to the enforced resolution of an active or potential conflict, often by establishing a balanced power relationship among the parties while also imposing a process to achieve a negotiated settlement. Peace-making may proceed through negotiations involving the parties in conflict, but if that does not work it may require military action to create a more symmetrical power structure so that neither side has a strong advantage.

Examples of peace-making actions include several imposed settlements of conflicts that arose after the break-up of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia beginning in 1991, which eventually resulted in the formation of a number of countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia. The wars of secession associated with the break-up resulted in several peace-making actions to stop the violence. For example, when the relatively powerful armed forces and militias of Serbia engaged in war measures to prevent the secession of the province of Kosovo, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) engaged in a selective bombing campaign that forced a kind-of peace (Canada was a participant in that mission). Kosovo is now a self-proclaimed republic, although its governance is controlled by the United Nations and its independence is not recognized by Serbia.

Peace-keeping is an action that occurs after a hot conflict has stopped through a cease-fire agreement, but the conditions for a lasting peace are not yet in place so various means must be used to keep the antagonists apart. Peace-keepers may do their work by monitoring the movement and actions of armed forces in post-conflict areas and by otherwise assisting in the implementation of peace agreements, sometimes by enforcing provisions of a cease-fire. The UN has a peace-keeping program that has been active in various conflict zones in Africa, eastern Europe, and the Middle East (Canada participated in several of these missions, which are characterized by personnel wearing helmets or berets of a light-blue colour). Some peace-keeping actions have been remarkably long-lasting, such as the one that has been in place in Cyprus since 1964. These various international mechanisms have all been extremely helpful in preventing wars, or in making them less widespread or destructive.

There are also powerful social movements against war. These involve non-governmental organizations that protest against militarism or the engagement of their own or other countries in specific conflicts. There are also less-organized movements that conduct protest marches, hold sometimes large public assemblies, and undertake other kinds of anti-war advocacy. For example, the Greenpeace organization was formed in Vancouver in 1971to protest against a U.S. nuclear-weapon test on the Aleutian island of Amchitka. Soon afterward, Greenpeace developed a broader interest in environmental issues and its programs and actions became international in scope. Today, many anti-war NGOs operate internationally and in most countries (Wikipedia. 2015q), including the Canadian Peace Alliance and Ceasefire Canada.

There are also more broadly based forces for peace, which operate at a grander societal level to make deadly conflicts less likely:

  • Democracy is a political system with numerous faults, but if properly implemented it assures the basic freedoms of people and so helps to avoid many of the kinds of discrimination that can result in the extreme discontent that may lead to insurrection or revolution. Democracy also allows for an open discussion about the size, capabilities, role, and purposes of the military sector of society.
  • Equitable opportunities of people living within a society, and also among countries, help to diffuse tensions associated with gross and unfair inequalities of wealth, lifestyle, and access to health services, education, and cultural and recreational amenities. All people, including those living in poor countries, have a right to expect a decent standard of living and quality of life. It is difficult to build a prosperous and peaceful world if there are gross inequalities among people.
  • Open and respectful communications are essential to helping parties understand opposing views and to find ways of accommodating differences of opinion or aspiration that may exist between nation-states, cultures, and other groups. Helpful exchanges of information include liaisons among cultural and national groups of people, politicians, and even the leadership of military forces.
  • Reduced militarism is related to modifying the attitude of the political leaders of nations about the degree to which their society must be prepared for potential conflicts, and the amount of spending that is necessary for such purposes. If governmental priorities resulted in fewer resources being expended to maintain armed forces, arsenals, and other military infrastructure, then more would be available to support social programs related to health, education, culture, and other needs of society. However, such approached must be balanced against the degree of militarism exhibited by other countries within the community of nations.
  • Anti-war cultural attributes also help to foster a widespread antipathy against violent conflicts. This is accomplished by documentaries, movies, novels, paintings, poems, sculptures, songs, websites, and educational curricula that take anti-war stances and help people to understand that peace is a desirable alternative to violent conflict.
  • Empowerment of a comprehensive United Nations potential for peace-making and peace-keeping would mean that only the most determined antagonists would be able to escalate tensions to outbreaks of war. The UN is limited to authorizing those functions, which must then be carried out by willing member-nation. However, with improved funding and a stronger mandate the UN could be empowered to prevent more conflicts than it is now possible for it to do.
  • Cooperative security is an idea that is not yet sufficiently recognized by the nation-states and cultures of the world, all of whom have a large stake in avoiding warfare and should collaborate more effectively to avoid it.
  • Ecological sustainability is another force for peace. If it is attained then economic and environmental difficulties associated with non-sustainability would place fewer strains on the internal and international relations of countries, which are often a prelude to conflict. In essence, the global economy must be balanced against the capability of the world to provide flows of resources, while also maintaining the ability of the biosphere to sustain other species and natural ecosystems. We usually think of warfare as an activity that only occurs among people, but in a sense the human economy is presently at war with the biosphere. If that conflict with the natural world can be resolved, then wars among human cultures and nation-states will be easier to avoid.

Image 26.5. Peacekeepers patrolling the boundary between Eritrea and Ethiopia. This peacekeeping mission of the United Nations ran from 2000 to 2008, and it was intended to separate the warring parties until a peace agreement could be reached. Source: Dawit Rezenè, ;

Canadian Focus 15.2. Lester Pearson – A Nobel Prize for Peace-keeping Lester B. Pearson (1897-1972) was a distinguished Canadian who worked as a professor, historian, diplomat, civil servant, and politician, including serving as the 14th Prime Minister of Canada from 1963 to 1968 (Wikipedia, 2015t). In 1957, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of ground-breaking work he did to organize a United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis.

That conflict occurred in 1956. It involved a coordinated attack against Egypt by armed forces of Britain, France, and Israel (Wikipedia, 2015u). The main intent was to seize the Suez Canal, which had been constructed during 1859-1869 by the French-owned Suez Canal Company, and which provides a vital shipping link between the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean. The canal had been nationalized by Egypt several months previously under the direction of its president, Gamal Nasser. That unilateral act had been undertaken to patriate ownership of the strategic shipping channel and its considerable economic benefits. The situation was, however, more complicated than a nationalistic seizing of a vital commercial asset. A larger context was the refusal of western powers to fund the construction of the Aswan High Dam on the Nile River, a project that Egypt considered to be vital to its economic development. That refusal had been precipitated by the increasing growth of economic and political ties between Egypt and communist nations, especially the Soviet Union and China, of which the former eventually provided most of the funding for the dam project.

In any event, the joint offensive to seize the canal from Egyptian control turned out to be enormously more controversial than its protagonists had anticipated. The attack was widely condemned by many nations, including the United States and the Soviet Union, as well as by the United Nations. The conflict was stopped when the UN General Assembly adopted a U.S.-sponsored resolution that called for an immediate ceasefire, a withdrawal of forces to behind armistice lines, an arms embargo on the adversaries, and reopening of the Suez Canal, which had been blocked by scuttled vessels. This was followed by additional UN resolutions, which established the first United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF), a multi-national military corps that would police the borderlands of Israel and Egypt in order to prevent hostilities from again breaking out.

The proposal for the cease-fire and the emergency UNEF force was primarily developed through the efforts of Lester Pearson, then serving as the Secretary of External Affairs of Canada and a front-line player at the UN. However, behind the scenes Pearson was being urged to lead this initiative by U.S. diplomats, because an American-led effort through the UN would have been resisted by a large bloc of countries, particularly the communist states. The proposal from Pearson received immediate support from Dag Hammarskjöld, the Secretary-General of the UN, and from other key world leaders, and it was quickly implemented.

In 1957, Lester Pearson was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts to resolve the Suez Crisis and for the creation of a mandate for the UN Emergency Force. Pearson is now considered the “father” of the concept of peace-keeping. The Nobel selection committee proclaimed that Pearson had “saved the world” through his efforts to quickly end the crisis, which had the potential to spread into a regional and perhaps even global conflict of the superpowers of the time.

Canadian military personnel have since contributed to a number of UN peace-keeping operations (Wikipedia, 2015v). They served in that inaugural UNEF group from 1956 to 1967, which was placed on Egyptian territory on the Sinai Peninsula. The mandate of that force was terminated in 1967 by another outbreak of hostilities known as the Six-Day War, which was fought between Israel and its neighbouring Arab countries. Canada has also served in 32 additional UN peace-keeping operations (to 2015).

Image 26.6. Lester B. Pearson photographed in 1944. Source: Star Newspaper/The Ottawa Journal/Library and Archives Canada, e002505448 (Copyright is expired;

Questions for Review

  1. What are the root causes of violent conflicts? Use that conceptual framework to explain the causes of a particular war.
  2. Write a brief essay on the economic costs of militarism and war.
  3. What are the potential consequences of a nuclear war?
  4. What is a nuclear winter, and what might cause it to occur?
  5. Explain the social forces and international mechanisms that are helping to prevent wars from occurring.

Questions for Investigation

  1. In view of the awful damage that is associated with war, why do these conflicts occur? What are the reasons that differences among people cannot always be settled using non-violent means.
  2. During the Second Indochina War (Vietnam War), the U.S. forces dropped enormous quantities of bombs and also sprayed extensive regions with herbicide. Of these two classes of action, there had been more public controversy over the herbicide spraying. Does this seem to be a reasonable public response to these actions of warfare, in view of the kinds of damage they are capable to causing to people and the broader environment?

Exploring Issues

  1. The Government of Canada has assigned you to a team to which the United Nations has given the responsibility of ending a conflict in a foreign country. Outline the steps that you would promote for ending the conflict, including negotiations between the hostile parties, and peace-making and peace-keeping if necessary.
  2. An anti-war NGO has hired you to lead a seminar in which options would be discussed for decreasing the level of military preparedness in Canada, including reasonable ways to lessen the expenditures for that purpose. How would you organize the seminar in order to encourage the participants to have an open discussion of the need for a balanced level of military preparedness in the face of competing uses of funding for health care, schools, and other social programs.

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Archer, C.I., J.R. Ferris, H.H. Herwig, and T.H.E. Travers. 2002. World History of Warfare. University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE.

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Barnaby, F. and J. Rotblat. 1982. The effects of nuclear weapons. Ambio, 11: 84-93.

Boffey, P.M. 1971. Herbicides in Vietnam: AAS study finds widespread devastation. Science, 171: 43-47.

Clark, R.S. 1947. Scientific Meeting on the Effect of the War on Fish Stocks. Copenhagen, Denmark.

Clausewitz, Carl von. 1832. On War. Cited in: Howard, M. and P. Paret. 1984. On War (Indexed ed.). Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ.

Cortright, D. 2008. Peace: A History of Movements and Ideas. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.

Crutzen, P.J. J.W. and Birks, J.W. 1982. The atmosphere after a nuclear war: Twilight at noon. Ambio, 11: 114-125.

Earle, S. 1991. Assessing the damage one year later. National Geographic, 179(2): 122-134.

Ehrlich, P.R., C. Sagan, and D. Kennedy. 1984. The Cold and the Dark: The World After Nuclear War. W.W. Norton and Co., New York, NY.

Eliot, T.S. 1925. The Hollow Men. [Note that the original quotation is from the final stanza of the poem, which can be paraphrased as “The world ends not with a bang but with a whimper.”

Freedman, B. 1995. Environmental Ecology, 3nd ed. Academic Press, San Diego, CA.

Gladstone, H.S. 1919. Birds and the War. Skeffington and Son, London, UK.

Gooders, J. 1983. Birds That Came Back. Tanager Books, Dover, NH.

Government of Canada. 1917. Canada Year Book 1916-17. (Data for 1913 in: Statistical Summary of the Progress of Canada).

Government of Canada. 1921. Canada Year Book 1920. for 1918 in: Statistical Summary of the Progress of Canada).

Government of Canada. 1947. Canada Year Book 1946, page XV.

Granatstein, J. 2002. Canada’s Army. Waging War and Keeping the Peace. University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON.

Grime, J.P. 1986. Predictions of terrestrial vegetation responses to nuclear winter conditions. International Journal of Environmental Studies, 28: 11-19.

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Grover, H.D. and M.A. Harwell. 1985. Biological effects of nuclear war. II. Impact on the biosphere. BioScience, 35: 576-583.

Harwell, M.A. and H.D. Grover. 1985. Biological effects of nuclear war. I. Impact on humans. BioScience, 35: 570-575.

Holloway, M. and J. Horgan. 1991. Soiled shores. Scientific American, 265(4): 103-116.

Harwell, M.A. and T.C. Hutchinson. 1985. Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War, Vol. 2. Scope Report 28, Wiley & Sons, Toronto, ON.

International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBM). 2011. Afghanistan: Landmine Fact Sheet.

Johnsen, W.T. 1998. Redefining Land Power for the 21st Century. US Army War College, Strategic Studies Institute, Carlisle, PA.

Johnston, W.R. 2007. Nuclear Stockpiles: Cumulative Estimates, Introduction.

Keegan, J. 1993. A History of Warfare. Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY.

Kristensen, H.M. and R.S. Norris. 2015. Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945–2013. Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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McKinnon, M. and P. Vine. 1991. Tides of War. Boxtree Ltd., London, UK.

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Palumbo, R.F. 1962. Recovery of the land plants at Eniwetok Atoll following a nuclear explosion. Radiation Biology, 1: 182-189.

Pittock, A.B., T.B. Ackerman, P.J. Crutzen, M.C. MacCracken, C.S. Shapiro, and R.B. Turco. 1985. Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War, Volume 1. SCOPE 28, Wiley, New York, NY.

Popkin, R. 1991. Responding to ecoterrorism. EPA Journal, July/August: 23-26.

Robock, A., L. Oman, and G.L. Stenchikov. 2007. Nuclear winter revisited with a modern climate model and current nuclear arsenals: Still catastrophic consequences. Journal of Geophysical Research, 112: D13107, 14 pp.

Shields, L.M. and P.V. Wells. 1962. Effects of nuclear testing on desert vegetation. Science 135: 38-40.

Shields, L.M., P.V. Wells, and W.H. Rickard. 1963. Vegetational recovery on atomic target areas in Nevada. Ecology, 44:697-705.

Sivard, R.L. 1989. World Military and Social Expenditures 1989. World Priorities, Washington, DC.

Smith, D.L. 2007. The Most Dangerous Animal. Human Nature and the Origins of War. St. Martin’s Press, New York, NY.

Stephens, S.L. and J.W. Birks. 1985. After nuclear war: Perturbations in atmospheric chemistry. Bioscience, 35: 557-562.

Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). 2018. Military Expenditure Database. SIPRI, Stockholm, Sweden. or

Stover, E. and D. Charles. 1991. The killing minefields of Cambodia. New Scientist, 1991 (Oct.): 26-30.

Toon, O.B., R.P. Turco, A. Robock, C. Bardeen, L. Oman, and G.L. Stenchikov. 2007. Atmospheric effects and societal consequences of regional scale nuclear conflicts and acts of individual nuclear terrorism. Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics, 7: 1973–2002.

Toon, O.B., A. Robock, and R.P. Turco. 2008. Environmental consequences of nuclear war. Physics Today, 2008: 37-42.

Turco, R.P., O.B. Toon, T.P. Ackerman, J.B. Pollack, and C. Sagan. 1990. Climate and smoke: An appraisal of nuclear winter. Science, 247: 166-176.

UN News Center. 1997. Landmines still kill 20,000 yearly, despite moves toward elimination.

Westing, A.H. 1976. Ecological Consequences of the Second Indochina War. Almqvist & Wiksell, Stockholm, Sweden.

Westing, A.H. 1977. Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Environment. Crane & Rusak, New York, NY.

Westing, A.H. 1980. Warfare in a Fragile World. Military Impact on the Human Environment. Taylor & Francis, London, UK.

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Westing, A.H. 1984a. The remnants of war. Ambio, 13: 14-17.

Westing, A.H. 1984b. Herbicides in War: The Long-tern Ecological and Human Consequences. Taylor & Francis, London, UK.

Westing, A.H. 1985a. Misspent energy: Munitions expenditures past and future. The world annual arsenal of nuclear weapons. Bulletin of Peace Proposals, 16: 9-10.

Westing, A.H. (ed.) 1985b. Explosive Remnants of War: An Overview. Pp. 1-16 in: Explosive Remnants of War: Mitigating the Environmental Impacts. Taylor & Francis, Philadelphia, PA.

Westing, A.H. 1987. The Ecological Dimension of Nuclear War. Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.

White, M. 2014. Necrometrics. (Note: This comprehensive review is the key source of data cited in this section on mortality caused by wars. Note, however, that the data are inexact, in the sense that various studies of the same wars, and of particular battles and theatres, often provide differing numbers. The data cited here are favoured by White in his own analysis, which are usually close to the median estimates.)

Wikipedia. 2015a. The Blitz.

Wikipedia. 2015b. Aerial Bombing of Cities.

Wikipedia. 2015c. Bombing of Berlin in World War II.

Wikipedia. 2015d. Bombing of Tokyo.

Wikipedia. 2015e. Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Wikipedia. 2015f. Military History of Canada during World War I.

Wikipedia. 2015g. List of countries by number of troops.

Wikipedia. 2015h. Salting the Earth.

Wikipedia. 2015i. Unexploded Ordnance.

Wikipedia. 2015j. Halabja poison gas attack.

Wikipedia. 2015k. Extermination Camp.

Wikipedia. 2015l. Nuclear Disarmament.

Wikipedia. 2015m. Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

Wikipedia. 2015n. Nuclear Weapons Testing.

Wikipedia. 2015o. Effects of Nuclear Explosions.

Wikipedia. 2015p. List of Treaties.

Wikipedia. 2015q. List of Anti-War Organizations.

Wikipedia. 2015r. Canadian Armed Forces.

Wikipedia. 2015s. List of countries by military expenditures.

Wikipedia. 2015t. Lester B. Pearson.

Wikipedia. 2015u. Suez Crisis. Accessed September, 2011.Wilson, E.O. 1975. Slavery in ants. Scientific American, 232 (6): 32-36.

Wikipedia. 2015v. List of Canadian Peacekeeping Missions.

Wolff, L. 1958. In Flanders Fields. Viking Press, New York, NY. (Citing excerpts of military dispatches and other literature of the time.)

World Bank. 2015a. Gross National Income, Atlas Method (Current US$). World Bank, Geneva, Switzerland.

World Bank. 2015b. Data. Indicators. Public spending on education, total (% of GDP) and Public spending on health, total (% of GDP).

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