Photo: Soldier deposits trash into a fire pit on a military base in
WHAT WAR BRINGS: severe destruction of the environment
We have here on Daily Kos a series of almost daily diaries on the environment, called Green Diary Rescue or DK GreenRoots. I have not heard them mention the
For starters, the
Most of the energy is used by vehicles, and about one quarter is used for buildings. Here is the overall consumption just for
The DLA supplied more than 2.8 billion gallons of fuel to Operation Iraqi Freedom and more than 2.2 billion gallons of fuel support to Operation Enduring Freedom as of March 2006. This makes more than 5 billion gallons, or more than 119 million barrels of oil. Today 56 000 barrels of oil per day, with a cost of at least $3 million, is consumed by military in
Of course, not all of it is put into vehicles or used to power buildings. Recently, the Taliban has regularly been blowing up those tankers full of oil before they even reach their destinations.
So, right there, we have a hell of an environmental impact.
This does NOT include the energy needed to PRODUCE all the armaments and hardware that the
I suppose the above amounts of oil quoted do reflect what it takes to get food and water to our 700 bases around the world. Somehow, I don’t think they are ‘buying local’.
The negative environmental impact starts before any of that equipment, or one soldier or Marine, even leaves the country.
And then there is the damage done to the environment from bombs and other munitions. The total cost is not calculable in a single blog post. I figure it would not fit in a book either. It would take an entire library – a large one – to document the total impact of the vicious fighting that goes on during a war or occupation. Think of all the bombs dropped, the car bombs that exploded, the cluster bombs, the heavy duty bullets, the drone bombings, and all the other armaments that were used in the fighting. Even if they never hit a single human (but they did), it would leave a hell of mess in its wake. Buildings, vehicles, anything and everything just trashed, and certainly not trashed in an environmentally safe way. All vegetation in the vicinity destroyed and contaminated. Unknown amounts of toxic materials just spread all over the place in tiny little pieces.
Here is an example, from June 2009.
More than 125 hectares (300 acres) of forest in northern
This is just one example of one area of bombing. Nearly the whole of the country has been bombed at one point or another. For the most part, they did not start forest fires; they started fires in buildings, probably mostly homes.
And, both the
The sale not only carries implications for the balance of power in the region, but also raises important questions about oversight, accountability, and transparency in a country riddled with internal violence.
I guess it did not raise questions about the impact on the environment. No one seems to think of that. But it is not just
I guess it is more sporting to arm our current and future enemies, but I fail to understand why the American people want to pay for this.
The impacts of occupation are far-reaching in regards to environmental impact. The report below is from July 2009.
Again from July 2009.
Now-frequent dust storms are just one sign of the man-made damage that has taken the country from
……….Iraq is in the throes of what some officials are calling an environmental catastrophe, and the increased frequency of dust storms is only the most visible manifestation. Decades of war and mismanagement, compounded by two years of drought, are wreaking havoc on Iraq's ecosystem, drying up riverbeds and marshes, turning arable land into desert, killing trees and plants, and generally transforming what was once the region's most fertile area into a wasteland. Falling agricultural production means that
They claim that even the slightest wind whips up a pall of dust that lingers for days. The Iraqi Agriculture Ministry estimates that 90% of the land is either desert or has severe desertification. And what usable land that is left is being eroded. One thing that has been blamed for this helping cause this condition is US tank movements. That fact has not been established, but the following facts have contributed to the desertification of
- farmers till marginal lands, at the encouragement of the Iraqi government, and then abandon them
- people chop down trees for firewood, since they don’t have electricity for heat
- lack of power also means that water is not pumped to formerly irrigated fields
- power stations have been forced to shut down due to low water levels in the rivers
- drought is in it’s fifth year – this cause can not be blamed on war or occupation or corruption
One commentator at this report wondered how much of that dust is contaminated with DU. One thing we do know: there is radioactive waste all over the place in
RADIOACTIVE wreckage and tens of millions of landmines still blight
Of course, they have poisons still lying around from prior wars also in
There was a recent report on the extreme rise in cancer rates in
There is a video report from Al Jazeera below under the first comment. And here is another report from October 2009.
…… She said her ministry had identified military vehicles and tanks contaminated with radioactive materials dating back to the wars of 1991 and 2003, but no action had been taken to get rid of them.
…..DU is a heavy metal and a by-product of the uranium enrichment process. It can enter the human body by inhalation, eating contaminated food, eating with contaminated hands or by exposing an open wound to contaminated dust or debris, according to Rahim Hani Nasih, a doctor in
So, we don’t know (for sure) how much depleted uranium will impact the health of current and future residents of the area, but we do know something about Agent Orange and it’s history.
From 1961 to 1971, the
Yes, we really did a number on the environment there – and along the way, did huge evil to the people who lived on the land.
Well, let’s see – we covered the hugely negative environmental impact of all the energy used just to start up a war and occupation, and then we covered the environmental impact of all the munitions on the environment – both in blowing shit up and the possible after effects of the munitions, like DU. Is that all?
Oh, not by a long shot.
Our little contractors out there in the middle of our occupations not only did shoddy wiring that electrocuted our troops, they also exposed them to lots of toxic substances. This clearly impacted on them – but also surely had an impact on the environment, and on the local people living in the area. This is a report from October 2009.
Two subsidiaries of KBR Inc. are being sued by 30 members of the West Virginia National Guard who claim they were exposed to a toxic chemical while guarding a water plant in
And then there are the burn pits. This is where the military gets rid of its garbage, and does not pay any attention to whether it is toxic garbage or not. They just burn it. This environmental assault is impacting our troops. It is clearly also impacting on the environment and the local people who live around the burn pits.
According to a statement from Shea-Porter and Bishop, the Department of Defense has dismissed any long-term health risks posed by the pits, but the representatives believe that hundreds of tons of war-zone waste -- including dioxin, benzene and other carcinogens -- are leading to serious health problems among veterans. They cited a waste pit at the 15-square-mile Joint Base Balad in
I’m not buying the idea that the US Department of Defense thought burning this stuff was “safe”. I think the reasonable explanation is they didn’t give a shit.
What I presented above is just a small sampling of the environmental impact of wars and occupation. The vast destruction of the munitions and the energy used to produce them, the chaos leading to wasteful and environmental destructive practices, the corruption of puppet governments, the lack of any enforcement of environmental regulations, the waste, the waste, the waste….. the list of the contributors to the environmental destruction is enormous.
War devastates ecosystems with radiation, wasteful burning of oil and destructive use of resources that are needed for positive social purposes. Saunders explains: “Here’s the awful truth: even if every person, every automobile, and every factory suddenly emitted zero emissions, the Earth would still be headed head first and full speed towards total disaster for one major reason. The military…produces enough greenhouse gases, by itself, to place the entire globe, with all of it’s inhabitants large and small, in the most imminent danger of extinction.”
Is it really that bad? Are we in danger of extinction? I don’t know. But I do know it is bad.
Here is a quote that sums it all up:
“We hear war called murder. It is not: it is suicide.” - Ramsay MacDonald, British prime minister 1931-1935
Yes, it is suicide to our home, our planet, to allow this to continue. And I didn’t even mention what the use of nuclear weapons might do, if we were to use them in a future war. Maybe nuclear winter will overcome the effects of global warming? Well, probably not.
Given the immensity of pollution caused by war, peace may be the only solution to global warming. – Andrea Peloso
If you support the continued occupation of
Iraqi cancer figures soar – October 2009
You can bomb the world to pieces……