There is no denying that war is a fundamentally human phenomenon and tragedy. Large scale coordinated attacks on other members of the same species in the name of territory and rule destroy lives, populations and cultures. But an often unsung casualty of war is the environment – the very stage on which the fates of those embroiled in conflict play out.
Damaged by war are the habitats of many threatened species. For a topical example, let’s turn our eyes to Afghanistan, which is, somewhat surprisingly, a hotbed of faunal diversity.
The past three decades of conflict in Afghanistan have seen 50% of the forests disappear. And amazingly, more than 80% of all armed clashes worldwide during the last 50 years, have occurred in areas of extremely high biodiversity. These statistics may be embellished somewhat by the exponentially high levels of genetic variation found on the continent of Africa and the irregular frequency of violence common to African nations.
The problem with maintaining sustainable subsistence strategies in war-torn areas is that people put conservation second to survival. If a refugee is fishing in a depleted lake because his family are starving after fleeing armed invaders and you stroll up to him, tap him on the shoulder and point in an apologetic but firm manner at the ‘No Fishing’ sign, he will lamp you with a spade and eat you instead.
In light of these problems, the HARE boldly proposes an enormous war-venue be built on Antarctica. The 1 billion seater stadium will have wipe-clean surfaces, bulletproof Perspex viewing shields, over seventy conveniently located bars and a variety of natural ice lakes teeming with responsibly bred fish. This way wars can be conducted safely and ticket sales will fund regeneration projects for the environments of the competing nations/Abramovich-funded super-armies. Now wouldn’t that be nice?