Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type

Thesis

Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors

Department

International Affairs

First Advisor

Steven Vanderheiden

Second Advisor

Daniel Kaffine

Abstract

Oil is the most traded item in the world, and previous research has shown a link between oil and the intensity and duration of conflicts. However, work has not compared and contrasted the impact of oil on interstate versus intrastate conflict. Additionally, the world's fuel demands will increase in the coming decades. As a way to encourage more peaceful relations, the question was posed if third-generation biofuels could solve some of the problems of fuel demand and conflict over fossil fuel resources. The research found that oil serves as different motivation in interstate and intrastate conflict. In interstate conflict, it tends to be an economic incentive. In intrastate conflict, oil and its infrastructure is treated more as a means of political and economic influence, particularly on the part of rebels as a means of exerting control over the central government. Additionally, third-generation biofuels were determined to be capable of production in some capacity in almost every area of the globe. Considerations such as water or land space are minimal in terms of the practicality of this energy source. Currently, cost for the production of algae biofuels is much higher than what would be economically feasible. However, by examining the trajectory of costs for wind and solar, the timescale for the usefulness of this energy source can be estimated. By the middle of the century, should the research and decline of cost be comparable to other sources, algae-based biofuels should be comparable to conventional sources of energy such as oil.

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