Abstract My research topic was landmines. At first I thought that the topic was too broad but came to find that there is so much about the topic that can be discovered. This brought on so many possible research questions. A few were: are they the most dangerous, should they be banned, how long have they been used etc. However, I found that researching the dangers of landmines would be the most appropriate topic for me. My method was to search through the databases and find information that could help formulate a thesis; once that was created I continued my research to help me discover topics for body paragraphs.
My research brought me to a lot of conclusions and made me realize that landmines are in fact the most dangerous weapon that can be used it war. A Geographer Explores a Path of Destruction “Since 1975, landmines have killed or maimed more than 1-million people [across the world]” (Bonsor, 2001). Landmines are becoming increasingly more dangerous as they are constantly being used in wars. At the time, they seem like the best choice of weaponry but in reality, there are so many more efficient and safer choices that can be made.
As I am human geographer, I am concerned with the study of people and places. Therefore, studying how landmines affect the people and their country is a huge part of what I do. It is said that the earliest forms of landmines were used over 2,500 years ago but that Americans were the first to use operational landmines in the war against the Indians in Florida in 1840 (Croll, 1998). Landmines have been used for so long and are becoming more and more dangerous. They used to be manually operated but quickly were developed to blow up when a certain amount of pressure was put on them.
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However, it was not until 1918 that landmines started being used on a large scale level; this began because assault tanks were now used in wars as well (Croll, 1998). If it were not for landmines, a lot of damage to citizens, animals, and resources would not occur. There are also two categories of landmines; Anti-personnel (AP) mines and Anti-Tank (AT) mines. AT mines are usually larger and contain more explosive materials. These mines are used to disable tanks, trucks, and the people in the surrounding area. They also require more pressure on the rigger plate for it to explode (Bonsor, 2001). However, no matter what type of mine it is, they can all do equal damage on a human being. The damage can be life threatening or even deadly. Mines cannot detect when the war is over or who is stepping on them; they are so dangerous to everyone around them. Sadly, some countries are a lot more affected by landmines than others (Croll, 1998). There are 26 countries in Africa, 9 countries in America, 17 countries in Asia, 25 countries in Europe, and 16 countries in the Middle East all being seriously affected by landmines.
These are said to be the countries most affect by this deadly weapon of defense. Landmines are the most dangerous weapon to use in war because they are so deadly, they exists after the war ends, people forget where they placed them, they are cheap to make yet effective, and they kill civilians as well as the enemy. “Currently, there are more than 100-million landmines located in 70 countries around the world” (Bonsor, 2001). This number is outrageous seeing as many of these countries no longer have war raging through their country. Almost every war uses landmines because they are effective. The purpose of mines when used by armed forces is to disable any person or vehicle that comes into contact with it by an explosion or fragments released at high speeds” (Bonsor, 2001). We know that they are effective and that is why we use them. Nonetheless, we know that they are deadly and can kill in a matter of seconds. If you look at the map on page 8, you can see the large number of casualties throughout the world in 2008. The areas that are blue have high casualty rates; there is too much blue on that map for anyone to accept the horrors that landmines bring to war.
Hopefully, one day, we will see white on every country proving that mines are no longer killing people across the world. Another scary thought is that in many instances, the mines do not kill the victim. Loss of arms and legs are very common in these injuries. These injuries do not only physically damage you but according to Shah, 2009, they leave a mental scar on the victim as well. Many people never recover from these traumatic injuries. It is difficult to imagine ever dealing with what these citizens must go through on a daily basis.
How many people can actually say they would not fear leaving their own homes after such a terrible experience? Even when the war is over, the mines are not removed. They sit in the ground for years and years to come until some unfortunate soul is unlucky enough to be the one to detonate it. “Anti-personnel landmines continue to have tragic, unintended consequences years after a battle and even the entire war has ended” (Bonsor, 2001). The process it would take to remove these landmines is a lot more intricate than it is to install them in the first place.
You would have to disable it from above ground or detonate it and that would become very difficult and dangerous for the workers. Doing this is not worth it for them, especially if they are not fighting on their own soil. Fighting for your own country is a lot more inconvenient. You may know that land a lot better which gives you an advantage, like in the Vietnam War. Yet, we also have to think about how they are depleting their own resources, destroying their land, and harming their own people.
They have to deal with more tragedy once the war is over. We would reason that they would want to avoid using landmines on their own land, but it has yet to stop any country in any war. Landmines are also making globalization a lot harder because it is causing boundaries between countries; that’s what war does. Having landmines deepens the hate between countries because they cause so much pain. It is hard to trust a country that wants to help you become a core country when they have already destroyed so much of what you love. Thermal infrared (IR) technique has been applied to the detection of shallowly buried landmines for more than a decade and has been found to be promising for non-metallic mines. Its aim is to detect and distinguish landmines from other buried objects (false alarms) using diurnal IR measurements of the air-soil interface” (Thanh, 2011). Although this is very convenient, it does not always work. Many landmines are in fact metallic so if it can only detect non-metallic mines, then it is missing a large amount of deadly weapons. The technique is an amazing start but it is not enough to say that the use of landmines should be allowed.
Until a machine is invented that can detect any landmine, none should be used. However, if something like this is invented, it defeats the purpose of the mines all together. Either way, with advancements in this day and age, it will not be long before something this magnificent is created and the use of mines is unnecessary; therefore saving hundreds of lives every year. The more they use landmines, the more innocent lives are going to be taken once the conflict has been concluded. Not only do the landmines remain in the ground years after conflict has ended, but often soldiers forget where they have been placed. As time passes, the location of landmines is often forgotten, even by those who planted them” (Bonsor, 2001). This makes these mines even more dangerous. We know that they can kill someone in an instant, but knowing that we do not even know there location is terrifying. Anyone could visit a foreign country and potentially be affected by these killing machines. There is nothing we can even do at this point, especially when it is not on our on soil. When one country invades another, it makes sense that they forget about the location, but when it is your own country, the circumstances are completely different.
They are now killing their own people and that is wrong on every possible level. “Furthermore, in the midst of a conflict or in preparation, records are rarely kept on exact locations for any or all landmines” (Shah, 2009). Therefore, they either do not have a record at all or completely forget about them. These conditions are daunting to imagine. We would hope that if war ever struck in the United States that we would be willing to remove the mines or detonate them before we forgot exactly where we put them. It is scary to think of the possibility of death in your own country post-war due to the effects of war.
Since the death toll of landmines is so high we know that they are effective, however many people do not know that they are cheap to make as well. “Landmines are easy-to-make, cheap and effective weapons that can be deployed easily over large areas to prevent enemy movements” (Bonsor, 2001). The fact that they are cheap makes it a lot easier and more convenient to use them in wars. We could predict that if they were not so cheap then less countries would want to use them as a weapon. However, at this point in time, it seems that the only thing that could possibly stop the use of landmines is a law.
It would be great if everyone just stopped using them because the causality rate is so high but they are more worried about killing soldiers and do not worry about what is going to happen to the civilians decades later. The more wars they are used in, the easier and cheaper it gets to produce them (Thanh, 2011). This should be reason enough to stop all use of the mines. This needs to end before it is too late. Too many people are getting maimed by these mines. It is clear that they are beneficial during the war but the affects after the war are far from worth a potential victory.
It is not fair to the rest of the world to use these when we are the ones getting caught in the crossfire. Once the war had ended, the only people left to be effected by the landmines are the citizens. “Horrific stories and pictures from all around the world often showed that civilians were the main landmine casualties in large numbers — and continued to be so years after the warring factions have left the battlefield” (Shah, 2009). This is alarming to hear. They did nothing to deserve this terrible fate therefore they should not be the ones whose lives are destroyed because of them.
One of the worst parts of the situation is that the ones affected are often children. You may see the physical damages on the outside, but there are so many mental scars on the inside. “Education rates among child survivors are lower than average while school drop-outs are more frequent, diminishing employment prospects later on” (Shah, 2009). It is not fair that children have to suffer so much for a war they may not have even been alive to experience. Even if they had been alive it is unlikely that they had been a part of the war; they were most likely just a citizen in a village or town nearby.
There futures are ruined due to factors that are not their fault; it is a miserable start to a child’s life leading to an even more miserable ending. They do not deserve to live under these horrible conditions. We should be able to do more to help, but at this point, there is nothing we can do but hope that innocent people stop getting injured. Landmines are becoming more dangerous as the number of casualties increase. Many civilians may have to resort to voluntary migration to avoid the dangers that the area may bring.
Something needs to be done to stop these terrifying mines from being used during war. The five themes of geography can be applied because the layout and production of landmines relates to it. The first theme is location. Landmines are everywhere. In the map on page 8, we can see just how common they really are and just how many people are affected by them. They were not put into the Earth so that people would never set them off, they were meant to destroy. The second theme is human-environment interaction; the relationship between human and the physical world.
The mines could be around any corner of the world and these causes a relationship of fear for the people living with these dangers. The third theme is region. This relates to landmines because more often than not, landmines are placed in regions that soldiers would be crossing. They are strategically placed by the enemy. “[We as geographers] use fieldwork, quantitative, and qualitative methods to develop insightful descriptions of different regions of the world” (Fouberg, 2009). The fourth theme is place. Each landmine has a unique location depending on who planted it and who their target is.
Each landmine has its own distinctive mission. Finally, the fifth theme is movement. Civilians must relocate during and after war to avoid the tragedies brought on by landmines and even other war effects. This is not fair to them but it is something that should be done to ensure their safety and the safety of their families. My conclusions is that landmines are the most dangerous weapon to use in war because they are so deadly, they exists after the war ends, people forget where they placed them, they are cheap to make yet effective, and they kill civilians.
All these reasons are enough to show that landmines should not be used in wars. “These landmines are perhaps amongst the most awful weapons on the battlefield today, they are inanimate victim-activated explosive devices recognizing neither friend nor foe, making no distinctions between soldiers or civilians they continue maiming and killing long after war is over”(Shaun, 2011). None of the achievements seem worth all the pain and suffering. It may seem that they are helping in war efforts but in the long run, they are doing more damage than good. These mines continue to be functional for many decades, causing further damage, injury and death” (Bonsor, 2001). It is unfathomable to understand the fear that goes through the minds of civilians in many countries when they walk out the door. Could I fall victim to a landmine today? Do they have any idea what is coming? They may even think that nothing will happen to them or that all the mines have been detonated. Little do they know, there are still hundreds, maybe even thousands still lurking in the soil of a place they call home. http://www. he-monitor. org/index. php/publications/display? url=lm/2009/maps/casualties. html This is a map of the world that shows the number of casualties, in 2008, that mines and explosive remnants of war (ERW) have caused. Works Cited Bonsor, Kevin. (19 June 2001). How Landmines Work. How Stuff Works. Retrieved from http://science. howstuffworks. com/landmine7. htm Croll, Mike. (November 1998). History of Landmines. Pen and Sword Books. Retrieved from http://members. iinet. net. au/~pictim/mines/history/history. html Fouberg, Erin H. (2009).
Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Shah, Anup. (27 November 2009). Landmines. Global Issues. Retrieved from http://www. globalissues. org/article/79/landmines Shaun, Allan. (2011). Call of Duty – Modern Warfare: The Effects of Landmines and IEDs on British Troops in Afghanistan. Baltic Security and Defense Review, Vol. 13, 6-20. Thanh, Nguyen Trung. (April 2011). Detection and characterization of buried landmines using infrared thermography. Inverse Problems in Science & Engineering, Vol. 19, 281-301.
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