Saturday, June 28, 2008

War as environmental disaster

Saw a reference to this earlier post at Left I and thought it worthy of repeating:
I have written before about how war and even the preparation for war is an environmental disaster. Today, a letter writer to The Nation steers me to this site with a long summary of the environmental cost of the war in Iraq, which I am going to reproduce here at length because of its importance:
  1. Projected total US spending on the Iraq war could cover all of the global investments in renewable power generation that are needed between now and 2030 in order to halt current warming trends.
  2. The war is responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) since March 2003. To put this in perspective, CO2 released by the war to date equals the emissions from putting 25 million more cars on the road in the US this year.
  3. Emissions from the Iraq War to date are nearly two and a half times greater than what would be avoided between 2009 and 2016 were California to implement the auto emission regulations it has proposed, but that the Bush Administration has struck down. Finally, if the war was ranked as a country in terms of annual emissions, it would emit more CO2 each year than 139 of the world’s nations do. Falling between New Zealand and Cuba, the war each year emits more than 60% of all countries on the planet.
  4. Just the $600 billion that Congress has allocated for military operations in Iraq to date could have built over 9000 wind farms (at 50 MW capacity each), with the overall capacity to meet a quarter of the country’s current electricity demand. If 25% of our power came from wind, rather than coal, it would reduce US GHG emissions by over 1 billion metric tons of CO2 per year – equivalent to approximately 1/6 of the country’s total CO2 emissions in 2006.
  5. In 2006, the US spent more on the war in Iraq than the whole world spent on investment in renewable energy.
  6. US presidential candidate Barack Obama has committed to spending "$150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of green energy technology and infrastructure." The US spends nearly that much on the war in Iraq in just 10 months.
War is a racket that is costly not only in terms of the human lives lost and damaged during the course of a war, but in terms of the long term environmental consequences which are inherited by generations hence. When one looks at the amount of oil used to fuel the current War on Terra alone (which includes the Iraq and Afghanistan quagmires), one gets a sense of the empire's Achilles heel. I always found the amount of resources wasted on wars to be near the top of the list of their absurdity. Try to mention that to most folks, and if one is lucky one will be met with a blank expression, and then some babbling about how "we have to fight 'em there so we don't have to fight 'em here" or maybe some griping about how OPEC is gouging US consumers, and other such nonsense.

There's plenty of denial and acquiescence to go around these days. The birds are coming home to roost, and a day will come - sooner rather than later - when denial will become impossible, and acquiescence won't be easily excused. There will be much to account for.

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