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Environmental terrorism

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Title: Environmental terrorism  
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Environmental terrorism

Environmental terrorism consists of one or more unlawful actions that harm or destroy environmental resources and/or deprive others of their use.[1] More colloquially, the phrase is also used to label actions seen as the unnecessary or unjustified destruction of the environment for personal and/or corporate gain.


There are academic and semantic difficulties in defining “terrorism” and specifically “environmental terrorism.” But discussions of environmental terrorism are growing, with a focus on identifying possible risks to natural resources or environmental features. Some,[2] including in the military [3] argue that attacks on natural resources can now cause more deaths, property damage, political chaos, and other adverse effects than in previous years.

Chalecki distinguishes between environmental terrorism and eco-terrorism. She notes that environmental terrorism can be defined “as the unlawful use of force against in situ environmental resources so as to deprive populations of their benefit(s) and/or destroy other property". In contrast, eco-terrorism is the destruction of property in the interest of saving the environment from human encroachment and destruction.[4] More concisely, environmental terrorism involves targeting natural resources. Eco-terrorism involves targeting the built environment such as roads, buildings and trucks, in defense of natural resources. Other analysts may fail to distinguish between these different threats.[5]


The term eco-terrorism has been used in the media to refer to environmental terrorism. Usually however eco-terrorism refers to violence done to persons or property in the name of the environment or environmental causes.

See also


  1. ^ Alpas, Hami (2011). Environmental Security and Ecoterrorism. Springer. p. 16.  
  2. ^ Chalecki, Elizabeth (September 2001). "A New Vigilance: Identifying and Reducing the Risks of Environmental Terrorism" (PDF).  
  3. ^ Butts, K.H.; Turner, C. W.; Jasparr, C. (September 2003). "Environmental Security Cooperation". Center for Strategic Leadership, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania. 
  4. ^ San Francisco Chronicle, July 1, 2001, page A10
  5. ^ "Environmental terrorism - definition". 

Further reading

  • Baechler, G. 1999. “Environmental Degradation and Violent Conflict: Hypotheses, Research Agendas, and Theory-building.” In Ecology, politics, and violent conflict, edited by Mohamed Suliman, 76-112. London: Zed Books.
  • The Gilmore Commission. 2000. “Second Annual Report to the President and the Congress of the Advisory Panel to Assess Domestic Response Capabilities for Terrorism Involving Weapons of Mass Destruction. II. Toward a National Strategy for Combating Terrorism.” Santa Monica, CA: RAND, 15 December 2000.
  • Gleick, P.H. 1993. "Water and conflict." International Security Vol. 18, No. 1, pp. 79-112 (Summer 1993).
  • Gleick, P.H. 1998. The World’s Water 1998-1999: The Biennial Report on Freshwater Resources. Covelo, CA: Island Press.
  • Lietzmann, K.M. and G.D. Vest. 1999. Environment & Security in an International Context. Committee on the Challenges of Modern Society - Final Report, March 1999. Report No. 232. North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. 174 pp.
  • Schwartz, D.M. 1998. “Environmental Terrorism: Analyzing the Concept” Journal of Peace Research. Vol. 35, No. 4, July 1998, pp. 483-496.
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