By David Swanson, World Beyond War

War and preparations for war are not just the pit into which trillions of dollars that could be used to prevent environmental damage are dumped, and a means of preventing necessary cooperation, but also a major direct cause of that environmental damage.

The majority of “Superfund” sites in the U.S. are current or former military- related installations, sites designated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency where extreme hazardous waste threatens human health and the environment.

The U.S. military is among the top three largest polluters of U.S. waterways. It dumped 63,335,653 pounds of poison into waterways from 2010-2014, including carcinogenic and radioactive chemicals, rocket fuel, and toxic sewage.

The deadliest weapons left behind by war are landmines and cluster bombs. A 1993 U.S. State Department report called landmines “perhaps the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind.” Millions of hectares in Europe, North Africa, and Asia are under interdiction because of tens of millions of landmines and cluster bombs left behind by war.

Between 2001 and 2019, the U.S. military emitted 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases, roughly what all the cars in the U.S. emit in a year.

The U.S. Department of So-Called Defense is the largest institutional consumer of oil ($17B/year) in the world, and the largest global landholder with 800 foreign military bases in 80 countries. The U.S. military consumes more petroleum than a lot of entire nations.

By one estimate, the U.S. military used 1.2 million barrels of oil in Iraq in just one month of 2008. One military estimate in 2003 was that two-thirds of the U.S. Army’s fuel consumption occurred in vehicles that were delivering fuel to the battlefield.

Over three-quarters of the U.S. military’s petroleum consumption is for airplanes and helicopters; over half is by the Air Force. A B-52 bomber airplane flying for 1 hour puts out as much in greenhouse gases as an average car driver does in 7 years. Some 30-40% of U.S. military greenhouse gas emissions is related to its bases, of which it has an enormous and disastrous supply.

Earlier this year, U.S. President Biden proposed to spend $1.2 billion on climate aid to poor countries. In 2019, according to USAID, the U.S. government handed out $33 billion in economic aid plus $14 billion in so-called military “aid.” Things that are no factor whatsoever in the distribution of this loot include women’s rights and environmental behavior.

Biden also proposed for the U.S. government to spend $14 billion on the climate, which compares rather unfavorably to the $20 billion it hands out annually in fossil fuel subsidies, not counting livestock subsidies, never mind the $1,250 billion the U.S. government spends each year on war and war preparations.

Another comparison you won’t see on your TV is that between the two most gigantic spending bills in the history of forever, the Infrastructure Extravaganza and the Build Back Better Reconciliation Bill, which would spend a combined $450 billion a year (or would have before being hacked away at), as compared to that $1,250 billion a year on militarism.

The President also said he wanted to reduce U.S. emissions 50 to 52 percent by the year 2030. That sounds super fantastically better than nothing, right? But the fine print not found in the U.S. media reports includes that what he actually means is reducing 2005 levels by 50-52% by 2030. And the totally missing print that environmental activists know to object to from past experience includes such slimy practices as excluding from the calculation any emissions from imported goods or from international shipping and aviation or from the burning of biomass (that’s green!), plus the omission of predictable feedback loops, plus building into the calculations the benefits of imaginary future pro-climate technologies. And then there are the things that even the environmental activist organizations tend to go silent on. These often include livestock. They almost always include militarism, which is generally excluded from climate agreements and even discussions about climate agreements.

There is plenty we can do, even including telling each other about the problem despite the impossibility of knowing about it. We can even pass laws to take funding out of both weapons and fossil fuels, educating people about the connections between the two during the process.

Yet the military and its pollution and energy consumption are omitted from all climate agreements and discussions, including the upcoming COP26 talks. You can begin to take action by calling on the COP26 parties to address this critical area.

Sign the petition here and learn about the global webinars Nov. 7-11:

Nov. 6, Peace Brigades International webinar on COP26

Join in these sessions from anywhere on Earth at the

Nov. 7 – 10 People’s Summit:

Challenging the Military Carbon Bootprint.

Climate Colonialism and Climate Justice.

U.S. Militarism, Space Tech, and Climate Crisis.

Shadow World Film Screening.

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