University of Michigan


Environ 490 / History 440 / Pol Sci 463

Winter 2013

Instructor: Prof. Richard Tucker


Class meets Monday & Wednesday, 1 – 2:30 pm in 1046 Dana

Office hours:  Monday, 11-12, and Wednesday, 10-11, in 1538 Dana



Throughout history warfare and the preparations for war have been an integral aspect of organized societies.  This has had complex and fateful impacts on the natural environment.  But environmental historians have largely neglected the impacts of military mobilization and collective violence.  Conversely, military historians have neglected the environmental impact of war and militarization, although the field of military history has routinely studied the ways in which climate and terrain have shaped warfare.  Yet this is a vital aspect of today’s challenge to limit the ecological degradation of the biosphere.  Since the Vietnam War (in tandem with the rise of the environmental movement) there has been greater public awareness of the environmental consequences of both war itself and also peacetime (Cold War) military establishments.  Major research institutes have been monitoring this growing problem, but they have not had much historical depth to inform their work.

This provides a dual assignment for environmental history studies: first, to provide a detailed understanding of the ecological consequences of war and militarization over many centuries and in all world regions, and second, to work with contemporary researchers to integrate past perspectives with today’s challenges.  This course is designed primarily to survey our long history, but week by week we will also be explicitly aware of the contemporary applications of our historical study.







Structure of the Course


Weekly assignments are listed below.  Most will be available online, on the course site on CTools.

You should purchase one book (available at local bookstores or online): Richard P. Tucker and Edmund Russell, eds., Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward an Environmental History of War (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2004).

You will find extensive additional bibliography on our new website: <>


Writing Assignments

The semester grade will be based primarily on three take-home essays, on specific topics related to the three broad themes listed below.

Detailed instructions on the essays and additional short writing assignments will be posted on the CTools course site.

  1. Environmental correlates of warfare in the pre-industrial world (due February 4).


  1. Environmental impacts of wars of the 19th and 20th centuries, through World War II and its aftermath (due March 13).


  1. Wars, militarization and the environment since 1945 (due in exam period, late April)


Class Attendance

Attendance is not formally required, but it is expected.  Class sessions introduce a great deal of important material that is not included in readings, or that helps to clarify and integrate themes of the readings.  Relationships among the readings aren’t entirely clear without the addition of class sessions.  Put simply, your writing will lack breadth and integration (and your grade will sag) unless you incorporate material from class periods in your essays.





Topics and Readings


Warfare, Military Establishments and the Natural Environment: Contemporary Relevance

January 9: Introduction

Gary E. Machlis and Thor Hanson, “Warfare Ecology,” Bioscience 58:8 (September 2008), pp. 729-36.

Peter H. Gleick, “Environment and Security: The Clear Connections,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists 47:3 (April 1991), pp. 16-21.


Long Historical Perspectives

January 14: Thematic Overviews

Joseph P. Hupy, “The Environmental Footprint of War,” Environment and History (2008), pp. 405-21.

Richard P. Tucker and Edmund Russell, eds., Natural Enemy, Natural Ally: Toward an Environmental History of War (Corvallis: Oregon State University Press, 2004) [NENA], chaps. 1-2.

Lawrence Keeley, War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 25-39.


January 16: The Classical Mediterranean and Beyond: State Formation and Mobilizing Resources

J. Donald Hughes, “War and the Environment in the Ancient Mediterranean Lands,” unpublished paper at conference of American Society for Environmental History, 2009.

William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), Preface & chap. 1

J. R. McNeill, “Woods and Warfare in World History,” Environmental History 9:3 (July 2004), pp. 388-410.


[January 21: No class – Martin Luther King Day]



Pre-Industrial Europe, Middle East and Asia

January 23: The Fertile Crescent from Ancient to Medieval Times

Edmund Burke III, “The Transformation of the Middle Eastern Environment, 1500 B.C.E.—2000 C.E.,” in Edmund Burke III and Kenneth Pomeranz, eds., The Environment and World History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009), pp. 81-91.

Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), pp. 37-45.

Peter Christensen, The Decline of Iranshahr (Copenhagen: Museum Tusculanum Press, 1993), pp. 15-21, 67-75, 100-104, 247-53.

January 28: The Central Eurasian Steppes and Agro-Urban Civilizations

Denis Sinor, ed., The Cambridge History of Early Inner Asia (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 6-13, 29-40.

Denis Sinor, “Horse and Pasture in Inner Asian History,” in Sinor, Inner Asia and Its Contacts with Medieval Europe (London: Variorum, 1977), pp. 171-83.

Bernard Lewis, The Middle East: A Brief History of the Last 2,000 Years (New York: Touchstone, 1995), pp. 96-101.

January 30: Cases from Pre-Industrial China and India

Robert B. Marks, Tigers, Rice, Silk, and Silt: Environment and Economy in Late Imperial South China (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), chap. 4.

Stewart Gordon, “War, the Military and the Environment: Central India, 1560-1820,” in NENA, pp. 42-64.

February 4: First paper due

February 4: Medieval and Renaissance Europe: Damaging Ecosystems and Consuming Resources

Archer Jones, The Art of War in the Western World (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987), pp. 161-73.

C. T. Allmand, “The War and the Non-combatant,” in Kenneth Fowler, ed., The Hundred Years War (London: Macmillan & St. Martin’s Press, 1971), pp. 163-83.

Jurgen Brauer and Hubert van Tuyll, Castles, Battles and Bombs: How Economics Explains Military History (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), pp. 49-72.

John Landers, “The Destructiveness of Pre-Industrial Warfare,” Journal of Peace Research (July 2005), pp. 455-70.


Western Europe and the World

February 6: Wars of Colonial Conquest  – The Americas

Stephen J. Pyne, Fire in America: A Cultural History of Wildland and Rural Fire (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1982), pp. 390-403.

R. Brian Ferguson and Neil L. Whitehead, “The Violent Edge of Empire,” in Ferguson and Whitehead, eds., War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare (Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1992), pp. 1-30.

Silvio R. Duncan Baretta and John Markoff, “Civilization and Barbarism: Cattle Frontiers in Latin America,” in Fernando Coronil and Julie Skurski, eds., States of Violence (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006), pp. 33-73.


February 11: Colonial Wars in Africa

Roger Levine, “’African Warfare in All Its Ferocity’: Changing Military Landscapes and Precolonial and Colonial Conflict in Southern Africa,” in NENA, pp. 65-92.

Thaddeus Sunseri, “Reinterpreting a Colonial Rebellion: Forestry and Social Control in German East Africa, 1874-1915,” Environmental History 8:3 (July 2003), pp. 430-51.


Nationalizing and Industrializing Warfare, 1789-1914

February 13: “Total War:” The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and Beyond

Jones, Art of War, pp. 353-67.

W. McNeill, Pursuit of Power, pp. 185-206.

Chris Pearson, Mobilizing Nature: The Environmental History of War and Militarization in Modern France (2012), pp. 38-64.

February 18: The American Civil War

Ted Steinberg, Down to Earth: Nature’s Role in American History (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002), chap. 6: “The Great Food Fight.”

Mark Fiege, “Gettysburg and the Organic Nature of the American Civil War,” in NENA, pp. 93-109.

Lisa M. Brady, “The Wilderness of War: Nature and Strategy in the American Civil War,” Environmental History 10:3 (July 2005), pp. 421-47.


World War I: Its Global Impacts and Its Legacy

February 20: Impacts of the War in Europe

Hugh Clout, After the Ruins: Restoring the Countryside of Northern France after the Great War (Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1996), pp. 30-52.

Tait Keller, “The Mountains Roar: The Alps during the Great War,” Environmental History, 14:2 (April 2009), pp. 253-74.

Richard Tucker, “The World Wars and the Globalization of Timber Cutting,” in NENA, pp. 110-41.

Edmund Russell, “’Speaking of Annihilation’: Mobilizing for War Against Human and Insect Enemies, 1914-1945,” in NENA, pp. 142-74.


World War II

February 25: The War in Europe

J. R. McNeill and David S. Painter, “The Global Environmental Footprint of the U.S. Military, 1789-2003,” in Charles Closmann, ed., War and the Environment (College Station: University of Texas Press, 2009), chap. 2.

Chris Pearson, “’The Age of Wood:’ Fuel and Fighting in French Forests, 1940-1944,” Environmental History 11:4 (October 2006), pp. 775-803.

Simo Laakkonen, “War – An Ecological Alternative to Peace? Indirect Impacts of World War II on the Finnish Environment,” in NENA, pp. 175-94.


February 27: The War in Asia and the Pacific

Micah Muscolino, “Refugees, Land Reclamation, and Militarized Landscapes in Wartime China: Huanglonghshan, Shaanxi, 1937-45,” Journal of Asian Studies 69 (May 2010), pp. 453-78.

William Tsutsui, “Landscapes in the Dark Valley: Toward an Environmental History of Wartime Japan,” in NENA, pp. 195-216.

Judith A. Bennett, “Pests and Disease in the Pacific War: Crossing the Line,” in NENA, pp. 217-51.


[March 4:   Mid-winter break]


March 11: Militarization and Energy Resources in North America

Richard White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New York: Hill and Wang, 1995), chap. 3.

Gerald D. Nash, World War II and the West: Reshaping the Economy (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1990), chaps. 2, 7.

Matthew Evenden, “Aluminum, Commodity Chains and the Environmental History of the Second World War,” Environmental History 16:1 (January 2011), pp. 69-93.


March 13: Second paper due


The Cold War: 1948-1990


March 13: Nuclear Weapons and Radioactive Pollution

Julius London and Gilbert F. White, eds., The Environmental Effects of Nuclear War (Washington: American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1984), pp. 1-17.

Glenn Zorpette, “Hanford’s Nuclear Wasteland,” Scientific American (May 1996), pp. 88-97.

Mark D. Merlin and Ricardo M. Gonzalez, “Environmental Impacts of Nuclear Testing in Remote Oceania, 1946-1996,” in McNeill and Unger, EHCW, pp. 167-202.



March 18: Militarization and Hydropower around Eurasia

Paul Josephson, “Rivers as Enemies of the People: Nature, the USSR and the Cold War,” in John R. McNeill and Corinna R. Unger, eds., Environmental Histories of the Cold War (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010), in McNeill and Unger, EHCW, pp. 21-49.

Richard Tucker, “American Strategic Interests and the Spread of High Dams in the Early Cold War, 1945-1960,” in McNeill and Unger, EHCW, pp. 139-63.



March 20: Environmental Movements and the Cold War [and Intl, Envtl and Mil Law]

Richard P. Tucker, “The International Environmental Movement and the Cold War,” in Richard H. Immerman and Petra Goedde, eds., Oxford Handbook on the Cold War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming).

Jens Ivo Engels, “Modern Environmentalism,” in Frank Uekoetter, ed., The Turning Points in Environmental History (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2010), pp. 119-31.

Edmund Russell, “Nicking the Thin Edge of the Wedge … the Environmental Law of War,” Virginia Environmental Law Journal, 24:3 (2005), pp. 377-88.


Civil Wars, Cold War Surrogate Wars and Counter-Insurgency

March 25: The Ecological Legacy of the Vietnam War

David Biggs, “Managing a Rebel Landscape: Conservation, Pioneers, and the Revolutionary Past in the U Minh Forest, Vietnam,” Environmental History 10:3 (July 2005), pp. 448-76.

Arthur H. Westing, “Environmental Consequences of the Second Indochina War,” Ambio 4:5/6 (1975), pp. 216-22.

Richard Stone, “Agent Orange’s Bitter Harvest,” Science 315 (12 January 2007), pp. 176-79.


March 27: Environmental Impacts of Low-Intensity Wars in Latin America

Maria D. Alvarez, “Forests in the Time of Violence: Conservation Implications of the Colombian War,” in Steven V. Price, ed., War and Tropical Forests: Conservation in Areas of Armed Conflict (New York: Haworth Press, 2003), pp. 49-70.

Daniel Faber, Environment Under Fire: Imperialism and the Ecological Crisis in Central America (New York: Monthly Review Press 1993), pp. 191-221.

Bernard Nietschmann, “Conservation by Conflict in Nicaragua,” Natural History (November 1990), pp. 42-48.


April 1: Civil Wars in Africa

Asit K. Biswas and H. Cecilia Tortajada-Quiroz, “Environmental Impacts of the Rwandan Refugees on Zaire,” Ambio (Sep 1996), pp. 403-408.

Phia Steyn, “’(S)hell in Nigeria’: The Environmental Impact of Oil Politics in Ogoniland on Shell International,” in William G. Moseley and B. Ikubolajeh Logan, eds., African Environment and Development (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004), pp. 213-28.

Emmanuel Kreike, “War and the Environmental Effects of Displacement in Southern Africa (1970s-1990s),” in Moseley and Logan, pp. 89-110.


April 3: Resource Wars

Michael T. Klare, Resource Wars: The New Landscape of Global Conflict (New York: Henry Holt, 2001), chaps. 3, 9.

Thomas Homer-Dixon, “Environmental Scarcities and Violent Conflict,” International Security 19:1 (Summer 1994), pp. 5-40.

Ian Bannon and Paul Collier, eds., Natural Resources and Violent Conflict: Options and Actions (Washington: World Bank Press, 2003), pp. 1-16.


April 8: Water Wars? in the Middle East

Aaron T. Wolf, “’Hydrostrategic’ Territory in the Jordan Basin: Water, War, and Arab-Israeli Peace Negotiations,” in Hussein A. Amery and Aaron T. Wolf, eds., Water in the Middle East: A Geography of Peace (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2000), pp. 63-120.

Eugenia Ferragina, “The Effects of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict on Water Resources in the Jordan River Basin,” Global Environment 2 (1980), pp. 153-70.


April 10: The Gulf, Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

O. Linden and T. Husain, “Impact of Wars: The Gulf War, 1990-91,” in N. Y. Khan, M. Munawar and A.R.G. Price, eds., The Gulf Ecosystem: Health and Sustainability (Leiden: Backhuys, 2002), pp. 279-90.

Maxwell Cameron, Robert Lawson and Brian Tomlin, eds., To Walk Without Fear: The Global Movement to Ban Land Mines (Oxford University Press, 19998), pp. 1-19.

Anon., “Afghanistan Still Tops Landmine Casualty List: UN,” The Nation, January 13, 2009.

Dan Fahey, “The Emergence and Decline of the Debate over Depleted Uranium Munitions, 1991-2004,” unpublished paper at conference, “War and the Environment,” May 7, 2004.


April 15: War, Wildlife and the Loss of Biodiversity

Jeffrey McNeely, “War and Biodiversity: An Assessment of Impacts,” in Jay E. Austin and Carl E. Bruch, eds., The Environmental Consequences of War: Legal, Economic, and Scientific Perspectives (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), pp. 353-78.

Greg Bankoff, “Of Beasts and Men: Animals and the Cold War in Eastern Asia,” in McNeill and Unger, EHCW, pp. 203-26.

Juichi Yamagiwa, “Bushmeat Poaching and the Conservation Crisis in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo,” in Price, War and Tropical Forests, pp. 115-35.

Kurk Dorsey, “Compromising on Conservation: World War II and American Leadership in Whaling Diplomacy,” in NENA, pp. 252-79.


The Military and the Environment: Contemporary Trends

April 17: Environmental Management in the American Military Establishment

Michael Renner, “Assessing the Military’s War on the Environment,” in Lester Brown, ed., State of the World 1991 (New York: Norton, 1991), pp. 132-52, 227-34.

Robert Durant, The Greening of the U.S. Military: Environmental Policy, National Security, and Organizational Change (Washington: Georgetown University Press, 2007), pp. 40-51, 77-91.


April 22: The Greening of Other Nations’ Military Establishments

Peter Coates, Tim Cole, Marianna Dudley, and Chris Pearson, “Defending Nation, Defending Nature?  Militarized Landscapes and Military Environmentalism in Britain, France, and the United States,” Environmental History 16:3 (July 2011), pp. 456-491.

E. D’Souza, “The Potential of the Military in Environmental Protection: India,” Unasylva 46: 183 (1995), pp. 57-62


April 30                   Final paper due – 6 p.m.