The impact of war and weapons can be felt everywhere, not just in surrounding areas. The damage done has a rippling effect, and before you know it, you will see it affecting you.
Humanity’s unbridled pursuit of power is destroying our Earth. Now, at an even more rapid rate due to the tools of modern science. We see graphic images of how war is destroying foreign nations and communities all over the news.
So, how exactly are those damages making their way to the rest of the world? Keep reading to discover how weapons of war, armies, and industry contribute to climate change.
The U.S. Department of Defense’s Carbon Footprint
It is no surprise that the world’s largest industrial-military in history is also the single biggest polluter on Earth. According to a recent study from Brown University, the U.S. DOD has a larger yearly carbon footprint than most countries worldwide. They are also the single largest producer of greenhouse gases in the world and the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum.
Beginning with the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, can you guess how much the U.S. military is estimated to have emitted into the atmosphere? The answer is a shocking 1.2 billion tons of carbon. For the sake of comparison, the United Kingdom’s entire annual carbon emission is estimated at around 360 million tons.
We can thank wars and occupations for the U.S. military’s carbon dioxide footprint – almost all unnecessary. In short: The United States of America poisoned the planet for vanity projects.
A Toxic Environment
Aside from emitting millions of tons of carbon dioxide during the war, the American military had a heavy hand in contributing to the Afghan environment’s immediate destruction. Amid the chaos of the war, deforestation has accelerated. The rapid acceleration can be linked-to trash burning and other toxic means.
We can blame the U.S. military for the sickening of Afghan civilians as well as causing chronic life-long illnesses among U.S. veterans. How? The U.S. armed forces released toxic pollutants into the air.
It doesn’t end there; it gets worse. The environmental devastation wreaked by the war in Iraq was even more fatal and destructive. Through the U.S. military’s activity, carbon dioxide emissions spiked. The widespread poisoning of the Iraqui environment is another thing we can thank the U.S. military for. Toxic munitions as well as the same “burn pits” also used in Afghanistan was heavily used during their time in the area.
Exactly how toxic has the environment become? In some areas, cancer rates have spiked as well as crippling congenital disabilities. This is a horrific and unjust individual punishment innocent future generations now have to face. According to two studies on the environmental impact of U.S. military operations in Fallujah, co-authored by a British doctor, the city’s population suffers “the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied.”
The Major Driver of Climate Change
We can blame much of this impact on the U.S. military’s use of depleted uranium munitions. Despite the U.S. military making a vow to stop their use, they’ve been found to continue using toxic munitions, notably during their most recent bombing campaign in Syria. This is according to a study done by the independent monitoring group Airwars and Foreign Policy Magazine.
It is a grim fact and sad reality that fossil fuel emissions have been the major driver of climate change. The grim irony to these wars is that for decades, the justification for the U.S. military’s staggering carbon footprint in the Middle East has been the necessity to preserve access to the region’s oil reserves.
Their extraction of those same oil reserves has been one of the major drivers of carbon dioxide emissions leading to global warming. In other words, to bring about the unimaginable emergency we now face, required industrial exploitation and industrial warfare of our planet. We have been killing, dying, and polluting for what? “Freedom”? In reality, it has been done to secure access to the most toxic resources responsible for our current climate crisis.
Climate Change and Increased Conflict
Especially in developing countries, climate change could increase the risk of conflict. Individuals in developing countries are already the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, and increased conflict will put these individuals in an even more dire situation.
With rising temperatures (and an increased population), water shortages will increase. In ‘water-stressed’ areas, we are expected to see the number of people living in those areas increase from 1.7 billion in 2000 to 5 billion in 2025.
Rising sea-levels, as well as increased storminess, will increase the risk of flood damage. Heavily populated coastal areas will be hit the hardest where, by 2080, tens of millions more people are likely to be affected.
Disruption to agriculture is more than likely to happen with climate change and increased conflict. In the past 40 years, climate disruptions to agricultural production have increased. These negative impacts are projected to increase over the next 25 years. By mid-century and beyond, this disruption will worsen and negatively affect most crops and livestock. Together, all these factors could lead to an increased rate of ‘environmental refugees.’
Weapons of War: Nuclear Power
The nuclear blasts at Nagasaki and Hiroshima gave the world its first realistic glimpses of how civilization itself could come to an end. Computer models can now demonstrate the effects of a nuclear world war on our world’s climate.
In its first week, a “limited” or regional nuclear war, involving about 0.03 percent of the global nuclear arsenal (100 of India and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, bombs, for example), would kill 20 million people.
This would continue on to firestorms erupting and releasing so much smoke into the upper atmosphere; it cuts off the sun. This would lead to cooling the Earth and reducing rainfall for around ten or more years. We could expect massive ozone depletion, which allows for more ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth’s surface. Eventually, this climate disruption would negatively impact our agriculture, leading to up to 2 billion people’s starvation.
Now, what about a “full-scale” nuclear war? Full-scale meaning involving just one-third of all U.S.A’s and Russia’s “launch-ready” weapons (nuclear warheads). This grim possibility would result in billions of human casualties. Climate disruption on a paramount scale would be the most devastating and long- term effect, which includes:
- A drop in temperatures worldwide like those experienced during the last major ice age
- The stratospheric ozone layer would be depleted.
- A complete collapse of agriculture
- Contamination of radioactive isotopes, some with a half-life of 24,400 years
Key Changes Needed
While it’s easy to blame the establishment or who’s in office for the effects of war, we as individuals need to take responsibility too. Some may blame Trump, blame Obama, and even Biden, but we have the ability to vote with our dollar.
What does this mean? It means where we spend our money (and attention) is the driving force for change. It is an urgent need for our Earth that we all take ethical responsibility for reducing our consumption of fossil fuels, especially oil.
You can start by making simple lifestyle changes. These changes can include using public transport, driving smaller cars, carpooling, or even vacationing closer to home. We should also be making the switch to more energy-efficient technology as well as praising brands making the shift.
Another key change our society needs to make is prioritizing renewable energy and say goodbye to relying on fossil fuels. Wind, solar, water, geothermal, and biomass are all renewable sources of energy we need to be more invested in. An important way to champion this effort would be to have government policies and measures to support these changes.
Eco-taxes, carbon trading, regulation, R&D support, the list goes on and on. If fossil fuel companies are granted support through government policies and measures, it’s time we move in a new and better direction by doing the same for renewable energy.
The Impact of War
Our Earth is being destroyed by humanity’s unbridled pursuit of power. Now, at an even more rapid rate due to the tools of modern science. The damage is already done, and if we let it continue, we could see the end of civilisation as we know it.
We hope you learned something new from this article. We also hope it inspired you to make any of the key changes needed to help put a stop to allowing weapons and war to dictate the state of our climate. If you enjoyed this article, check out our blog for more interesting stories and support the cause by putting the word out there. On a related note on 8 Dec Dr Anne Aly MP during a parliamentary speeach in relation 22 Jan’s prohibition of nuclear weapons UN treaty added “Nuclear weapons are the most destructive, inhumane and indiscriminate weapons ever created, both in the scale of devastation they cause and in their uniquely persistent spreading of genetically damaging radioactive fallout. They are unlike any other weapons. The mere mention of the words ‘nuclear weapons’ is universally understood as holding grave danger.
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Specialising in community engagement and digital product growth Nebras has over 15 years’ experience in designing and delivering executable audience growth and content strategies across a range of leading industries and countries. Nebras’s strategies are always focused on return on investments, customer retention and high brand value. He also plays a key role in ensuring research services business intelligence processes and operations are conducted in accordance with all audience measurement guidelines.