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.
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
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.