The History of Chemical Warfare and Its Effect on the Environment

2667 Words Apr 19th, 2006 11 Pages
There are so many issues facing the world today that it is sometimes hard to understand why they occur and what they affect. Today it is apparent that many people take the environment of the earth for granted. Pollution, energy, and natural resources are all seen as an environmental element that can threaten our future and destroy the environment. But there is another threat to the environment that is certainly overlooked by today's society and was overlooked by many in the past. This element is the act of war. There are many different aspects of war that can affect the environment and the people of our world, but there is one specific facet of war that could be considered most detrimental… chemical warfare. "Chemical warfare is …show more content…
The arrow was fired into the target of choice, usually an item of prey such as the antelope, with the hunter then tracking the doomed animal until the poison caused its collapse. Although this is not considered warfare between humans, this still provides knowledge on the use of chemicals to cause harm. From here we can infer that even the use of these chemicals in ancient times had an effect on the environment. If early humans were using chemicals to hunt and kill their prey, it may have created an unbalance in the habitat of the time. If the antelope population was to suddenly decrease with the use of chemicals, the predator of the antelope may starve and die, later causing a possible extinction of that particular species. Chemical weapons in the form of liquid were not the only type of chemicals used in the beginning of human history. The earliest recorded use of gas warfare in the West dates back to the 5th century BC, during the Peloponnesian War between Athens and Sparta. Spartan forces besieging an Athenian city placed a lighted mixture of wood, pitch, and sulfur under the walls hoping that the noxious smoke would incapacitate the Athenians, so that they would not be able to resist the assault that followed. Sparta wasn't alone in its use of unconventional tactics during these wars: Solon of Athens is said to have used hellebore roots to poison the water in an aqueduct leading from the Pleistrus River around 590 BC during the siege of…