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Water scarcity and interstate conflict
Water scarcity is an increasingly important issue in a world of changing climate and neo-Malthusians argue that it will lead to increased conflict between states. Resource optimists, who view water as far too important to fight over, refute the neo-Malthusian viewpoint and argue that people will always find alternative solutions before conflict occurs.
Much of the research in the field shows that interstate war over water resources alone is extremely unlikely and that there has, in fact, been no known war between two states over water alone. However, this does not preclude water resource issues from exacerbating other existing tensions between the states. The fascinating aspect of this research shows that water resources can aggravate existing issues or, conversely, can act as a tool to encourage cooperation between states.
In order to explore why this is the case, this theory utilises social capital as the explanatory tool when determining whether water issues will act as an aggravating or cooperating factor in existing tension. Social capital theory is a way of describing decision-making using concepts such as social networks, norms of reciprocity and, also, trustworthiness.
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