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Environmental Issues Caused By War

최종 수정일: 2023년 12월 21일



By: Elena Jo


One book made me think.


I’ve read Gerhard Staguhn's book "Warum die Menschen keinen Frieden halten: Eine Geschichte des Krieges" (Translation: "Why People Do Not Keep Peace: A History of War",한국본: 전쟁과 평화의 역사, 이화북스 출판).


Since then, I have become increasingly unable to ignore news of the War in Ukraine or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I once again thought about the future I would live in, whether eternal peace would come to mankind, or whether war would develop further in a different form. Does nature know about war? As Jane Goodall discovered chimpanzee warfare in her childhood novel, is human belligerence inherited from nature? Otherwise, why do people hurt themselves and nature through war? I can't stop the thoughts from flowing. Even during the I&S class at school where we had an activity session on news articles covering the current state of the world, I couldn't laugh while reading war-related articles. The more I think about the damage to nature caused by war and the hardships that children of the same age group as me in the region will experience as a result, the sadder I become.


As of November 4, 2023, the war between Ukraine and Russia and the war between Israel and Palestine are still ongoing.


The conflict has resulted in severe detrimental effects on both people and the environment. The destruction of industrial and commercial infrastructure has led to the contamination of water sources, posing risks to human and ecosystem health. The consequences are already apparent with water shortages and deteriorating sanitary conditions, as essential water and sanitation facilities have been damaged. The movement of troops and constant bombardment have adversely affected air quality, and the potential for radiation leakage from nuclear sites remains a concern.


Military actions have also caused widespread deforestation and triggered wildfires. There is growing apprehension about long-term consequences, including the loss of biodiversity and the extinction of species. The shelling and explosions have altered the soil's physical, chemical, and biological characteristics, significantly impacting agriculture.


Many individuals find themselves trapped under the debris of homes devastated by attacks, sparking concerns about an imminent environmental crisis. Officials are apprehensive that delayed assistance to those trapped may lead to fatalities under the rubble, with the subsequent decomposition of their bodies on-site. Research has demonstrated that decomposing corpses can alter the chemical composition of precious soil, causing the leaching of essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, sulfur, calcium, and phosphorus, ultimately rendering the soil less fertile.


Environmental issues are not confined to specific locations; They are challenges that have global implications. These issues transcend geographical boundaries and impact the entire world, making them universal problems that require collaborative solutions. Thus, environmental damage caused by the above war is no longer a problem only for the countries where the war is taking place. The world must work together to minimize damage to the global environment caused by war.

In Ukraine, where war has been ongoing for several years, Supported by the European Union, Ukraine’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has launched the EcoZagroza app to record environmental crimes committed by the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine. It allows its users to monitor the quality indicators of air, water, soil, and other environmental indexes. People can also report all the facts of environmental crimes they have witnessed like burning military equipment and forest fires. This is a way to attract people's attention to environmental problems caused by war and to directly participate and take action.


However, the enclave — a narrow strip of land between Israel and Egypt, next to the Mediterranean Sea — is home to roughly 2.3 million Palestinians and is described as one of the most densely populated places, where armed conflict broke out not long ago. On Earth. The 140-square-mile region is roughly the size of Philadelphia), and the extent of environmental damage caused by the war has not even been investigated.


The environmental impact of war can be severe and wide-ranging, affecting ecosystems, water sources, air quality, and biodiversity. Restoration of the environment after war is a complex and challenging process that often requires concerted efforts from various stakeholders. However, one thing is certain: the most important start in the restoration of the environment after the war is assessment and planning. Before restoration efforts can begin, a thorough assessment of the environmental damage must be conducted. This includes identifying contaminated areas, assessing the extent of pollution, and understanding the impact on ecosystems. I think now is the time to take the first step in environmental reconstruction through assessment and planning. Otherwise, Europe and the United States may have to build fortresses to block the influx of millions of people from environmentally devastated countries. Countries experiencing rapid climate change due to environmental destruction will try to protect their scarce food, water, and energy reserves, even by using nuclear weapons. ah! It's terrifying to think about.


African environmental activist Wangari Maathai, who won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize, said, “By planting trees, we sow seeds of peace.”. Gerhard Stagun also said in a book I read that a healthy environment is a fertile breeding ground for peace. He said that peace also requires practice. I, too, must continue to pay attention to the Israel-Palestine war, urge people around me to pay attention as well and contribute at least one hand to global monitoring of the environmental problems that will arise as a result. Therefore, I will do my best to prevent further wars, a constant in world history.


The environment cannot wait for a future peace agreement that may come one day.

Works Cited

Staguhn, Gerhard. 전쟁과 평화의 역사. 이화북스, 2019.

Pereira, Paulo. "Russian-Ukrainian War Impacts on the Total Environment." Science of The Total Environment, vol. 850, 2022, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0048969722050318. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.


Gan, Jay. “Russian-Ukrainian war impacts the total environment.” Science of The Total Environment, vol. 850, 2022, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S004896972202962X Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.


Firstpost. "Israel-Hamas War: Bodies Rotting, Dangerous Chemicals Pose Environmental Hazards in Gaza Strip." Firstpost, 15 Nov. 2023, https://www.firstpost.com/explainers/israel-hamas-war-bodies-rotting-dangerous-chemicals-environmental-hazards-gaza-strip-13276482.html. Accessed 20 Nov. 2023.


EU NEIGHBOURS east. “EU-backed project in Ukraine launches website to monitor Russian environmental war crimes.” EU NEIGHBOURS east, 22Jul.2022, https://euneighbourseast.eu/news/latest-news/eu-backed-project-in-ukraine-launches-website-to-monitor-russian-environmental-war-crimes. Accessed 21 Nov. 2023.


Ecoza Groza by Official resource of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine. https://ecozagroza.gov.ua/en. Accessed 25 Nov. 2023.



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