Geoffrey D. Dabelko is Director of the Environmental Change and Security Project at the Woodrow Wilson Center.

If environmental problems remain at the top of the world's list of challenges in the 21st century, poverty and affluence will complicate the issue. A pollution pattern and environmental degradation have developed that are peculiar to rich nations. Similarly, poor nations despoil the environment and waste resources in ways that are distinctive to them. The net effect is the creation of a double-edged problem requiring the coupling of political will to technical strategy. This need is exacerbated by the potential of environmental conflict to breed active hostility and bloodshed. Geoffrey Dabelko explains the interworkings of a major 21st century problem.