"Conflicts between powerful countries for resources must be feared"


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"Search". The rhetoric of President Donald Trump and the Brazilian Jair Bolsonaro on the climate is worrying given the role that the two big countries should play in a negotiated solution for global warming. If such important actors tried to escape the Paris agreement, there is the fear of a race to territories that could be protected or even benefit from climate change. A perspective that recalls the international tensions that appeared at the beginning of the twentiethis century around the control of the supply of raw materials, the tensions that some historians, since Avner Offer (World War I, an agrarian interpretation, Oxford, 1991, untranslated), considered as the profound origin of the First World War.

In the decades that preceded the Great War, the great powers undertook a race to control the "empty" territories

In the decades leading up to the Great War, the great powers undertook a race to control the territories they considered empty, from the American West to Siberia and through vast areas of Africa. If the reasons for this expansionism are multiple, a question becomes of strategic importance at the beginning of the twentiethis century: security of the supply of natural resources.

Indeed, European industries have become more dependent than ever on imported raw materials, from cotton to oil through copper or rubber. Due to the growing population, even the continent's food needs more and more imports from abroad (American and Russian wheat, Argentine or Australian meat, Brazilian coffee or sugar). Great Britain is therefore "the world's workshop": it imports almost only primary products and exports only manufacturing and coal products. Its existence therefore depends on foreign trade and the control of sea routes is essential for this.


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