environmentalists take on the military

According to some environmentalists, the worst part of war is the carbon footprint.

military hardware

When gas prices surged beyond $4 a gallon across the United States, calculating miles per gallon became a national sport and just about every environmental group was out to track down the biggest gas guzzlers. The prices at the pump may be lower now, but environmentalists are still tracking down who wastes the most fuel and bringing their findings to light. But sometimes, this concern for nature crosses into territory where no one is really worried about MPGs or the impact to wildlife. Consider this “shocking revelation” about the world’s biggest gas guzzler from Planet Green for example. By adding up how much fuel the U.S. military burns, the author was able to throw out some staggering numbers and cast war as a major environmental menace.

Sure, tanks, fighter jets, bombers and naval destroyers aren’t exactly the greenest machinery on the planet. In fact, they’re often far worse than even the most excessive civilian machine due to their heavy armor, payloads and afterburners. And here’s the thing. They’re not designed to be easy on the environment. They’re built to be tools of war and the last thing nations engaged in combat care about is the health of a nearby forest and the local wildlife, which is exactly what the article’s author wants them to make their number one priority…

Environmentalists Against War (EAW) have opted for the coalition approach, e.g. cross-pollinating activist camps. In 2003, EAW presented its ten reasons to oppose the ongoing American military intervention in Iraq. These included:

  • War destroys human settlements and native habitats. It destroys wildlife and contaminates the land, air and water. The damage can last for generations.
  • U.S. cluster bombs, thermobaric explosions, electromagnetic bursts, and weapons made with depleted uranium are indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.
  • Bombs pollute, poisoning the land with unexploded shells and toxic chemicals.

If anti-war activists can lend a hand in the name of climate justice, surely you devoted greenies can make the connections that war is always an assault on the natural world.

You know, maybe it’s just me, but I was sort of hoping to see something about how war kills humans which is a really good reason not to have wars in the first place, not just our worry for the whales and cute furry things which make it front and center on posters urging us to fight climate change. However, we’re a violent species and the reasons why we go to war revolve first and foremost around us and our needs. When some warlords or brutal dictators endanger people’s lives, or there’s a geopolitical conflict spiraling out of control, fighting the battle takes precedence over environmental protection. Our future as a species is simply more important to us just as the basic principles of evolution would dictate and while it would be nice not to have any wars and use the trillions anually allotted for warfare across the planet for fulfilling our utopian dreams, it’s just not going to happen anytime in the foreseeable future.

# politics // climate change / environmentalism / military / war


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