The fact that people are killed in war is bad and well known. The damage caused by military action to plants and animals, to the soil and to our breathing air is hardly investigated. Fires, explosions, powder vapour, defoliated forests, contaminated waters, CO2 emissions in unbelievable quantities is the terrible environmental record of the wars and preparatory military exercises. It is worrying that little is being said about it. It is not for nothing that the military, as one of the greatest environmental offenders, was removed from the Kyoto Protocol at the instigation of the NATO states.
“Climate endangers world peace,” says the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Fridays for Future (FFF) in unison, or as stated on the FFF website:
The climate crisis poses an existential threat to the stability of our planet’s ecosystems and to millions of people. Unchecked global warming is a huge threat to global peace and prosperity.
But what role do military and war play?
All alarm bells should be raised: military as climate killers were deliberately excluded from the Kyoto Protocol and other UN climate documents, including the Paris Charter, under pressure from the US and NATO countries.
Is the military and war not only responsible for refugee flows, destruction and death, is the military an environmental terrorist?
Der Moorbrand von Vechta (Niedersachsen) war gestern sehr gut vom Satelliten aus zu beobachten. Gleichzeitig wurde zu dem Zeitpunkt im Südwesten und Westen vielerorts bereits die #Sommermarke erreicht bzw. überschritten./V pic.twitter.com/RNBhlvUPv5— DWD (@DWD_presse) April 23, 2019
A few facts:
The moor fire on a training base of the federal armed forces in 2018 killed not only animals and destroyed (sometimes rare) Fauna, but also large amounts of CO2 and particulate matter were released — an almost daily destruction of the environment by military, in this case medially spiced up by the fire and the smelly smoke swaths. It is believed that further weapon tests will be carried out on the site even after the fire.
Wars and armed conflicts destroy the environment, a General course. One is almost inclined to ask: what else should they destroy, if not man, nature and environment? Nevertheless, a quick look into history illustrates the Dimension: in many wars of history, the environment became a victim of a policy of the burnt earth. Armed conflicts consume and pollute natural resources (air, water, soil, Land, forests, and oceans), strain public infrastructure and services (for example, energy, health, sewage, garbage disposal) and have a negative impact on the conservation of wild animals and their habitats. Fields were burned, water was poisoned and Land was rendered unusable in order to deprive the population and enemy troops of the livelihood. Catastrophic was the destruction of dikes. The first World War gas war killed 100,000 people and poisoned large areas of land. The surface bombardments, shipwrecks and reduction as well as the increase in the production of arms contaminated marine and land ecosystems and left deep scars in nature for decades. The use of nearly 100,000 tonnes of herbicides such as Agent Orange in the Vietnam War was particularly significant in the following areas, in order to deprive forests and restrict enemy activities. This hit 4.8 million Vietnamese women, led to 400,000 dead, as well as disabilities and gender defects in 500,000 children. The plant world could not regenerate for decades, the number of animal species declined significantly.
The destruction reached a new dimension with the use of atomic bombs by the United States against the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945. Through the combined action of heat, pressure and radiation were not wiped out, only hundreds of thousands of people, but also the local Flora and Fauna; strokes big country, the water and the atmosphere for years, radio active contaminated. Cancer deaths to this day. More than a Million victims report the statistics.
The Cold War era: more than 2,000 nuclear weapons were tested in the Cold War nuclear arms race, releasing Plutonium and other radioactive substances that have circulated worldwide to date and accumulate in the ecological food chain. Test areas became uninhabitable for the peoples living there or were lost like the Bikini Atoll. In the event of nuclear accidents, around 50 nuclear warheads and 11 nuclear reactors fell into the ocean.
And today there are still 15,000 nuclear weapons with the multiple destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb: a nuclear war could darken the atmosphere so strongly that life on Earth is not only endangered (nuclear Winter), but life on earth would inevitably be destroyed.
A recent example: During the Gulf war of 1991 the Oil fires in Kuwait and releases of Oil in the Persian Gulf showed the consequences of a scorched-earth policy. American members of the military complained about the Gulf war syndrome, probably as a result of the use of more than 1,000 tons of uranium munitions by the U.S. military, radioactive, particularly capable of effective ammunition.
The destruction of the environment by the military goes far beyond the devastating wars :
War and military are among the largest consumers of energy and other resources and release significant environmental pollutants.
There are over 1,000 military bases in the world. Military land use affects the quality of Life, Health and nutrition of affected communities. Solvents, fuels and other toxic chemicals from military activities remain in the environment for decades. Heavy military vehicles damage soil and infrastructure. Noise pollution by military disrupts the habitat of animals and plants. Armed conflicts in areas of high biodiversity affect ecosystems and their services to human development.
As one of the largest polluters in the world, the US military, with around 39,000 contaminated sites. The Pentagon produces about five times more toxins than the largest American chemical company.
Worldwide, the military consumes large quantities of fossil fuels and releases significant amounts of greenhouse gases that contribute to anthropogenic climate change. The U.S. military is the largest single consumer of energy in the world. According to the 2005 CIA World Factbook, the Pentagon would be 34th in oil consumption in all countries of the world, just behind Iraq and ahead of Sweden. According to a 2012 US Congress report, the Pentagon consumed around 117 million barrels of oil in 2011, almost as much as the fuel consumption of all cars in the UK. More than half of the world’s helicopters are intended for military use and about a quarter of the fuel consumption comes from military vehicles, which are mostly inefficient, carbon-intensive and polluting. The U.S. military bases in the world consume 320,000 barrels of oil every day. According to information from the Pentagon, its environmental programme deals with 39,000 contaminated areas in the US. 126 U.S. bases in the USA (House of Armed Service Committee) contaminate the environment, there are problems with contaminated water and radioactive poisoning. How many may it be worldwide in the face of 868 US bases all over the world? An example: Okinawa Base and its expansion endanger the survival of 262 endangered animal and plant species, including unique corals. The estimated cost of remediation of military contaminated sites is at least $ 500 billion.
War for oil: due to dependence on the oil of the developed countries but also of the military, military and arms companies tend to support armed interventions or Stationings all over the world in order to secure their own oil and energy supply. US-critical, Oil-producing countries are deliberately destabilized. The Iraq war in 2003 is the sharp but not the only example. One more example: 25 percent of the world’s kerosene consumption is made by the US Air Force. An F - 4 Phantom consumes 26,000 gallons per hour at supersonic speeds.
The disposal of worn-out military equipment takes place through wars or through “simple” disposal, for example, on the high seas.
A particularly dramatic destruction of the environment occurs through Depleted Uranium (DU). The use of this weapon leads to radioactive contamination and poisoning of people, dramatically increased cancer rates in the Region are the result of see Yugoslavia, Iraq, and more.
$1.8 trillion is arms expenditure per year worldwide: this is a huge diversion of public resources that could instead be invested in renewable energy and Environmental Protection. In reality, each issue for a military infrastructure, or procurement program is the senseless destruction of the limited resources our Planet has. In order to cope with the climate crisis, an estimated 1 percent of global GDP would be required by 2030. For the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), i.e. the goals for Sustainable Development, 300 billion dollars per year. Degrowth in the military should become a binding Position of the different political and scientific positions of the worldwide Degrowth movement. Degrowth without overcoming militarism will not exist.
This is the first time in history that we have been able to see the impact of climate change on the environment in Ramstein, the largest US Base outside the US.:
Anti-international drone war with state-of-the-art technologies consumes tons of Natural Resources. The worldwide monitoring and control system devours material resources.
The Air Base Ramstein lies between nature conservation areas (NSG) and landscape conservation areas (LSG) and is in conflict with the conservation objectives according to landscape planning. The adjacent Pfälzer Wald, the largest contiguous forest area in Germany, with its sandstone rocks in the South began to develop into a popular climbing, hiking and holiday area. This is destroyed by the various military facilities.
Large-scale sealing and loss of soil as a habitat takes place. Emissions from kerosene pose a risk to groundwater and rivers. The air and the small climate are loaded by heat stress as well as by heat radiating surfaces. Military aircraft spread (Ultra -) particulate matter, the contamination of groundwater, among other things, by benzene is progressing.
Pollutants in air, water and soil kerosene discharge by civil aircraft in the approach to the civil airport Frankfurt Rhein-Main characterizes the military region Kaiserslautern. In the Western Palatinate, the immense risk to health is increasingly discussed in the regional press. The Galaxy Grand Transporter consumes 3,500 liters of fuel at startup. This means that a Diesel car that consumes 10 liters per 100 km could drive 35,000 km. Nozzle Jets have no soot filters. At Take-offs and landings on the US-Air Base Ramstein, 1.35 billion m3 of exhaust gases are “released"annually. It contains very large amounts of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide / CO2, bromine, lead and soot. Kaiserslautern has recorded with 5 t per inhabitant, the highest emissions of the climate killer CO2 into the Federal Republic of Germany.
Military planes use the NATO aviation fuel JP-8: this is carcinogenic additives. Significantly higher cancers in the region Kaiserslautern are documented by specialists. This special fuel, which, according to a Data Sheet drawn from the manufacturer Chevron, contains toxic and carcinogenic components, seeps into the ground from leaky tank systems and thus enters directly into the ground water below the aerodrome. JP-8 is also drained before landing because large transporters may not exceed a certain landing weight. It is found as an oily coating on garden ponds and as a black grease on all surfaces. At the back of his hand, the rangers warn of the consumption of polluted fruits and mushrooms from the forests in the vicinity of the airfield.
Aircraft noise is a permanent threat to human, animal and plant health. The US-Air Base Ramstein currently hosts approximately 30,000 take-offs and landings each year. In addition to the very loud US military transporters C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster and C-5 Galaxy, there are also civilian charter machines, including the lute Antonow AN-124.
What is missing are one or more specialized studies on the total negative environmental impact resulting from the Air Base. Politics doesn’t want them, science pinches.
A serious environmental and climate debate about drastic CO2 reductions is incomplete and dishonest without military CO2 emissions. Climate change, which does not include military, is hot air. The protection of the environment, i.e. war and military degradation. It is time to bring this taboo issue to public attention in every environment and Peace Action! What we need is:
A comprehensive disarmament process that protects the environment and releases material and financial resources to protect and survive the planet and its people.
A comprehensive socio-ecological Transformation based on “common goods”, an economy that puts people at the centre and not Profit, as well as national and global conversion plans for the conversion of military to civilian, with the objectives of creating good work. The military must be driven to zero (degrowth).
The comprehensive, vivid, and action-oriented cooperation of climate/environmental and peace movement for life and Survival on the planet in social justice.