Monday, July 27, 2015

Downward Spiral Of Earth's Climate Hastened By #PentagonClimateCrime

All kinds of nifty thinkers have been getting in touch with me about my #PentagonClimateCrime campaign. A sister activist in Maine sent me a handout developed for a Climate Conference last year that detailed some of the ways the Pentagon is very, very bad for the global environment.

It included points I've been laboring over recently, namely the direct contribution of carbon emissions from burning up fuel and also exploding things. But it also mentioned a couple of other key concepts to keep in mind about how our tax dollars support runaway global warming.

From Peaceworks of Greater Brunswick via Martha Spiess, looking toward the future:
The visions and plans of the Military will exacerbate climate change. 
Weather manipulation as a weapon. The High-frequency Active Aural Research Program (HAARP) facility is designed to alter climate, capable of setting off earthquakes and volcanoes through electromagnetic waves. (1) 
Dominate space. The Air Force Space Command mission includes force enhancement and control of weather. (2) 
Global oil-protection service. The Carter Doctrine (1980) authorizes permanent foreign bases and the use of force for national security.  (3) 
(1) Rosalie Bertell, "Planet Earth, the Latest Weapon of War", 2000
(2) Air Force Space Command,
(3) Michael Klare, Progressive Magazine, December 2004

I like having a big picture context in mind when I'm down in the trenches trying to find the elusive carbon footprint of, say, one Hellfire missile, so I especially enjoyed this timeline developed by a retired engineer who responded to my recent article in Counterpunch "Elephant In The Room: The Pentagon's Massive Carbon Footprint."

Evolving (or Devolving) Fives:

5,000,000,000 years ago --- amino acid, RNA, protein, DNA 
500,000,000 years ago --- vertebrae - chordate - pikaia
50,000,000 years ago --- primate - archicebus
5,000,000 years ago --- hominid - australopithecus
500,000 years ago --- hominin - homo rhodesiensis 
50,000 years ago --- human migration out of Africa
5,000 years ago --- civilizations, religions
500 years ago --- enclosure, colonial movements, witch burnings
50 years ago --- atom bomb (1945), GMO (1972)
5 years ago --- derivatives, surveillance state

Credit: Akio Tanaka. Used with permission.

For some reason this graphic from that a facebook friend shared seemed to illustrate the bottom end of our devolutionary trend. The Pentagon, supposedly on our behalf, burns oil in order to fight for access to more oil so we can...burn more oil.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Adding Up the Carbon Footprint of Shock And Awe #PentagonClimateCrime

IMAGE: Ecoterror Baghdad by Abby Shahn. Used with permission.
Pentagon secrecy makes it difficult to monitor greenhouse gas emissions produced by bombs or other explosive weapons. Sometimes researchers interested in this aspect of climate change focus their calculations on one particular war. Guess which one?

Not coincidentally, it is the war most blatantly waged for control of oil: Operation Iraqi "Freedom" (OIF). Beginning with the Shock & Awe shelling of Baghdad in March, 2003 and ending...well, the bombing of Iraq hasn't actually ended. Still, in order to quantify emissions, you've got to start and stop somewhere. 

Noting that "any assessment of the climate footprint of war must take into account emissions from the millions of tons of explosives used by the military" a 2008 Oil Change International report on OIF, "Climate of War: Behind the Numbers," found:

Untold quantities of emissions have been released due to the use of chemicals with high global warming potential (GWP) in the war. For example, compounds like halon-1301 used for extinguishing fires and found in the safety systems of many military combat vehicles, have a GWP of 5400 (where CO2 has a GWP of 1).... many of the vehicles in use in Iraq contain halon or halon-variants, and it is likely that many of the fire extinguishing agents used to put out blazes caused by explosions or oil fires contain compounds with extremely high GWPs. ™

Heavy reliance on air strikes in the Iraq War has contributed to GHG emissions from the manufacturing and detonation of explosives....In the first days of 2008 alone, US forces dropped over 100,000 pounds of bombs.

The manufacturing of explosives, such as TNT, emits various gases, including nitrous oxide (N2O), a potent greenhouse gas with a global warming potential (GWP) of 296 times that of carbon dioxide. The detonation of explosives, too, releases greenhouse gases. According to some experts, detonation releases approximately 0.32 tons of CO2 per ton of explosive.

And there are other climate costs of OIF to consider.

Remember those oil field fires that burned and burned during the previous war with Iraq, Operation Desert Storm? OIF's oil fires were not as extensive, but they were still a major source of pollution contributing to climate change.

Since 2003, emissions from gas flaring and oil well fires have amounted to an estimated 15 million metric tons (MMT) of CO2...Depending on the number, intensity and duration of fires, burning oil wells in Iraq may have released as much as 1 million metric tons of CO2 per day.

A conservative estimate based on press coverage and industry reports suggests that they have released approximately 3 million metric tons since 2003. At the same time, increased flaring of natural gas at petroleum facilities since the war began accounts for another 12 MMT CO2...

Since 2003, Iraq has flared, on average, 1.6 billion more cubic meters of gas per year than it did during peacetime, which, at a rate of 4.259 pounds CO2 per cubic meter of gas, translates to 3,099,716 metric tons of CO2 per year, or approximately a cumulative 12 MMT CO2 between 2004 and 2007.

Fuel consumption, of course, is an obvious large part of the climate cost of OIF.  It's not as hard to quantify because the Pentagon itself studies its fuel "needs" with an eye to not running out. Around 100 MMT CO2 is the estimated climate cost for fuel, fuel to transport fuel, and fuel to transport troops and equipment for OIF 2003-2008.

Less obvious is the carbon footprint of cement used to rebuild destroyed or damaged infrastructure, estimated at 33 MMT CO2 for the same period.

Add it all up and what do you get? A climate crime equivalent to putting 25 million more cars on the road in the U.S.
Between 2003 and 2007, the Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
You can view the sources and conversion factors used to calculate these figures here

Then, use this handy tool to write to your local newspaper and elected officials suggesting that no conversation on climate change can afford to ignore the contribution of the Pentagon's wars.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

What Is The Carbon Footprint Of U.S. Bombs? #PentagonClimateCrime

What is the relationship between militarism and climate change? One of secrecy, mostly. The Pentagon is not going to divulge the amount of CO2 or other greenhouse gases produced when it bombs Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or anywhere else it pleases. 

The Pentagon may occasionally acknowledge how much fuel they are using when assessing whether the supply will keep flowing, but if they're counting the pollution produced by their bombs and the resultant fires they're not sharing it with the rest of us.

Smoke rises over Syrian town of Kobani after an airstrike, as seen from the Mursitpinar border crossing on the Turkish-Syrian border in the town of Suruc. KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS
Source:  NEWSWEEK "U.S. Leads 15 airstrikes against isis in iraq and syria" by Polly Mosendz
Others who want to quantify this climate threat face formidable obstacles. Mike Berners-Lee and Duncan Clark reported in a 2010 reckoning of the carbon footprint of the Iraq war in The Guardian:
All carbon footprints are virtually impossible to pin down accurately, and this is especially the case for something as complex and chaotic as war. Indeed, the best that can be done in this case is to give some very crude numbers to provide a sense of scale.
At the time of writing the financial cost of the US military operation in Iraq since 2003 has been estimated at $1.3 trillion, with a further $600 billion anticipated for the lifetime healthcare costs of injured troops. Extrapolating from the carbon intensity of the health and defence industries in the UK, it's possible to have a rough stab at converting this expenditure into carbon. This approach suggests that the US military operation in Iraq may have clocked up around 160–500 million tonnes of CO2e, plus a further 80 million tonnes for the healthcare of troops. 
Add on a few per cent to both numbers to include the coalition forces and, say, another 1% for the footprint of the much more poorly resourced insurgency, and we might be looking at 250–600 million tonnes... And that's excluding the direct emissions from explosions. [emphasis mine]
Photo: Ellen Davidson
SOURCE: "Carbon Bomb Blows Up Near West Point" by Tools for Action on Popular Resistance blog Sep. 14,2014
I will continue looking for data that quantifies the Pentagon's climate crimes, and for people who will help do the maths as the British say. 

Ancient Greek author Aeschylus is the earliest cited source of the meme,"In war, truth is the first casualty." It's usually construed to mean that propaganda to whip up pro-war sentiment among the populace will make false claims i.e. the existence of Iraq's phantom weapons of mass destruction. But it could also mean concealing the truth about something people care deeply about -- namely, CO2 emissions and their effect on climate change -- while claiming that national security takes priority over the public's need to know.

But continuing to conceal the truth about the Pentagon's unregulated carbon pollution could eventually result in a massive casualty: life on Earth.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Pentagon Carbon Pollution Is Killing Life On Our Planet #PentagonClimateCrime

Thanks to Anthony Freda for this image.
The carbon footprint for the barrels of oil 
the Pentagon burned in 2013:
 38,700,000 metric tons of CO2 *

Sharon Burke reported in the May/June 2014 issue of Foreign Affairs:
Last year, the U.S. Department of Defense was the single largest consumer of fuel in the United States, using about 90 million barrels of oil...The fuel requirements [sic] of the U.S. armed forces accounted for...more than 80 percent of the federal government's total fuel consumption.
She went on to count the ways that the Pentagon sees this as a problem: they might run out, dependence on fossil fuel creates a vast web of supply lines vulnerable to attack. CO2 pollution? Not even on the radar. 

Climate change? Yes, that is a factor the Pentagon considers as the military may find itself flooded out of coastal bases, or quelling refugee populations whose traditional homelands have become what environmental author Naomi Klein calls "sacrifice zones."

But, as Klein observed in her book This Changes Everything, "we're all in a sacrifice zone now." She's mostly talking about toxicity and water pollution from fracking and mining, but also about the planetary aspect of extreme weather, melting ice and rising sea levels.

Maybe the fact that the whole planet is a sacrifice zone  is a good thing. Maybe as a result the affluent will wake up to the fact that entertaining ourselves while ignoring global warming is a dead end that our children and grandchildren will live long enough to crash into.
"Last Run" by Kenny Cole
Life on Earth can't afford the Pentagon's carbon footprint. And ignoring their CO2 spew won't make it go away.

* 0.43 metric tons of CO2 per barrel of crude oil x 90,000,000 barrels

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Air Shows "Entertain" While Showing Who Owns The Air You Breathe #NoCO2Show

I've heard from several people objecting to air shows like the Blue Angels Navy air show scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Brunswick, Maine. I am objecting to the carbon footprint of this faux-entertainment, really recruiting and intimidating, show. But many who live around air show venues cite the incredibly high levels of noise pollution that everyone in the area must endure.

Area resident Joe Ciarocca shared his op ed from the Bath-Brunswick Times Record with a few links to the health risks of exposure to excessive levels of noise and vibration. Joe wrote:
Some people will attend this air show with the attitude, “it’s only for an afternoon and everything will be okay and we will survive.”  Are we so easily entertained that we would buy into something that’s not safe...? 
On a daily basis we are exposed to much noise and air pollution.  We have become acclimated to and have normalized this condition.
Normalization of militarization of every sky on the planet would appear to be the explanation for some beachgoers laughing and cheering when low flying jets from an air show in Penascola, Florida send their chairs and umbrellas flying through the air.

If you object to the upcoming Blue Angels air show in Brunswick, you can contact the Maine Regional Redevelopment Authority which manages the venue in Brunswick:


15 Terminal Road, Suite 200
Brunswick, ME 04011
Phone: 207-798-6512
Fax: 207-798-6510
Office hours: Monday – Friday, 8:00am – 4:30pm. Closed on major holidays.
Or use their online contact form here. Or contact them via twitter (@mrramaine) or on their facebook page. There is also a facebook page for the Sep. 4-5 scheduled show
Mainer Michael Gibson posted the graphic at the head of this blog post to the facebook page with the comment "Stop hypnotizing people with technology." Amen to that.
Revised Aug. 3 to add more contacts to protest the Blue Angels in Brunswick:
Contact the Town of Brunswick:
Brunswick Town Hall, 85 Union Street, Brunswick, Maine 04011  Phone: (207) 725-6659
Contact your Maine state representatives and senators:
Website with contact info:
Contact Maine’s representatives and senators in Washington DC:
(202) 224-3121  Capitol switchboard to reach Rep. Pingree, Rep. Michaud, Sen. King & Sen. Collins
Write a letter to the editor:
Bath-Brunswick Times Record
For more information on air show pollution, see Bruce Gagnon’s blog post at

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Why Is The Pentagon Never Called Out On Its Carbon Footprint? #NoCO2Show

I oppose wars and militarism of policing because they are morally wrong. People suffer from state-sponsored violence in their lives and I do not want to fund it, tolerate it or ignore it. 

But "join me in opposing war because it is wrong" is not a very effective message in these times. 

One must counter immense spending on propaganda constantly persuading fellow citizens that investment in weapons of mass destruction, and basing an economy on "security" and surveillance, makes everyone safer. Along with regularly orchestrated (and well-funded) terror events and squads designed to keep fear high. 

Q: What do you get when you cross 9/11 with Power Rangers? 
An anti-war message linked to austerity seemed effective after the banksters crashed the economy and got bailed out while the rest of us got sold out in 2008.

Each time a public program like education or food stamps was cut while spinning the false narrative of the necessity of austerity, the Bring Our War $$ Home campaign pointed out the error of that analysis. Why are we broke? Ask the Pentagon.

The F-35 jet, a "defense" contract that Sen. Bernie Sanders worked hard to bring to his home state of Vermont.
The scale of the budget provided to the Pentagon and its contractors each year dwarfed any social spending. Just a few weeks of the Afghanistan war budget alone would have funded my schools and yours with money to spare.

As reported by Liz Dwyer at Takepart, "UNESCO’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report puts the cost of educating every child on the planet through grade 12 at $340 billion. The expense of extending education opportunities from grades 9–12 is $39 billion of that amount." 

As Malala Yousafzai said at the UN's Oslo Summit on Education for Development this summer:
“It may appear as a huge number, but the reality is that it is not at all,” Yousafzai told summit attendees. “The world spends many times more than this on weapons and military. In fact and unfortunately, $39 billion are spent on militaries only just in eight days.(emphasis mine)
The challenge, again, is to tell this story in the face of massive propaganda to the contrary. Read the comments section of any daily newspaper to see how deeply people in the US have been duped into believing that feeding poor kids or providing them with public schools have bankrupted the nation.

So, I'm ready for a new messaging strategy.

When I look around and notice what people -- especially young people -- are concerned about right now it is the environment. They are scared, and rightly so, that human-induced climate change is well underway, and that it threatens to extinct life forms currently on the planet.

What role do endless wars waged by the U.S. and NATO play in global warming?

Sara Flounders interviewed in The Real News:

when we say the U.S. is the largest user of petroleum in the world, and also using some of the most toxic materials, it's just scratching the surface... we have seen the ability to wreak havoc in the environment of whole countries, such as Iraq or Afghanistan, the surrounding areas...
Yesterday The New York Times had an article following the march, which was about global emissions rising 39 percent last year. 2003 was a record year. I read the article three times. Not one single mention of the military. Yesterday on MSNBC, the same article was there. There wasn't a single mention of the military. On the UN agenda for its meeting, will the military be on the agenda? It will not. (emphasis mine)
Air show in Brunswick, Maine Aug 25, 2012 Source: The Forecaster
In September, 2015 Maine will have yet another Blue Angels air show, a petroleum burning exercise billed as entertainment but admittedly intended as an aid to recruitment among poor Maine kids so they'll consider joining the military. Paid for by me and thee.

What do you suppose the CO2 output of this "entertaining" spectacle is? Some people have done the math.
Those Dirty Blue Angels
Dear San Francisco Chronicle Editors:
At a time when climate change is front and center as a global concern, in a state that is the front runner in addressing the US's global warming mitigation strategies, in a city which has created a Climate Action Plan with the goals of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2012, what are the Blue Angels doing performing in San Francisco, CA? 
According to the Blue Angels and US Navy's own webeites, one F/A-18 uses approximately 8,000 pounds or 1,300 gallons of JP-5 jet fuel during a show and over the course of a year, including transportation, training, etc., the squadron, including Fat Albert, burns approximately 3.1 million gallons of fuel. 
Using jet fuel carbon emissions estimates provided by Earthlab to be 23.88 pounds of CO2 per gallon*, each Blue Angel flight produces 31,044 lbs of CO2, with a total yearly emissions of 740 million lbs of CO2 over the United States. With four scheduled shows with six planes each per show during Fleet week, that would be 745,056 lbs of CO2 emitted over San Francisco in a two-day period, not including practice flights. 
I hope that when San Francisco became the first city in the US to certify its greenhouse gas emissions, it didn?t forget to include its yearly guests, the Blue Angels. 
In a state of shock and awe, 
Elizabeth Dougherty    October 5, 2007 
*Source Information:
This summer I will be working with others in Maine on a campaign to call attention to these life-threatening facts. We need a good pithy slogan that can translate into a meme. #NoCO2Show is one possibility but I'm sure there are better ones. Reply in the comments section with your ideas, and stay tuned.