U.S. Militarism and Climate Catastrophe
Black Alliance for Peace
- The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD/Pentagon) is the single largest consumer of energy in the country, and in fact, the world's single largest institutional consumer of petroleum. Since 2001, the DoD has consistently consumed between 77 percent and 80 percent of all U.S. government energy consumption.
- If the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) were a country its greenhouse gas emissions would rank number 50 out of 195 countries in the world. That means that the DOD alone produces higher levels of greenhouse gas than 74 percent of all countries in the world.
Since the beginning of the Global War on Terror in 2001, the U.S. military has produced more than 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases. In 2017, the Pentagon’s total greenhouse gas emissions (installations and operations) were greater than the greenhouse gas emissions of entire industrialized countries, such as Sweden, Denmark and Portugal. In 2020, the U.S. armed forces were responsible for approximately 52 million metric tons in carbon dioxide emissions—more than was emitted by some entire countries, such as Norway, Sweden and Switzerland.
- https://www.acq.osd.mil/eie/ OE/OE_index.html
- https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2021-08-22/ military-fight-climate-change
- The U.S. military spends one quarter of its fuel to protect access to oil it doesn’t need.
- In 2017, the DoD consumed over 85 million barrels of fuel to power ships, aircraft, combat vehicles, and contingency bases at a cost of nearly $8.2 billion. But, by far, the most fuel-thirsty equipment in the military is aircraft. In fact, of the 100 million gallons of fuel the Defense Logistics Agency bought in 2018, about 70 million gallons were jet fuel.
- Heavily armored vehicles used by domestic police departments during Black Lives Matters protests contribute to air and water pollution through emissions and runoff and significantly impact local ecosystems.
- One of the most harrowing cases of U.S. military pollution activity was the nuclear weapons testing performed in the Marshall Islands. From 1946 to 1958, the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons in what is now known as the Republic of the Marshall Islands. These weapons tests have been equated to being 1,000 times greater than the Hiroshima bomb. Radiation poisoning, birth defects, leukemia, thyroid and other cancers are just a few of the detrimental life-threatening consequences experienced by the residents of those islands more than 75 years later.
- A second devastating case of U.S. military nuclear testing affected a Navajo Indian reservation. Between 1944 and 1977, Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state released radioactive toxic gasses and fluids, affecting the fish that provide food and economic subsistence to the residences. In addition to this, uranium mining and aboveground nuclear-weapons tests had been occurring for approximately 50 years on and around these reservations. These actions have caused dramatic increases in cancer rates among indigenous people that reside in this region.
- Ian Zabarte, spokesperson and the Principal Man of the Western Bands of the Shoshone Nation of Indians, reports that as a result of decades of nuclear testing, they are the most bombed nation on earth. Shortly before the end of World War II, they were overrun by the military industrial complex. In violation of treaties, their land has now become the Nevada national security site. Since 1951, approximately 928 nuclear tests took place on the Shoshone territory – 100 in the atmosphere and more than 800 underground. The fallout from these tests covered a wide area, and contaminated water and killed flora, fauna and all wildlife and people.
- The Shinkolobwe uranium mine in the Congo (DRC) is an historic and ongoing tragedy shrouded in secrecy. The U.S., in collaboration with Belgian colonialists, used forced Congolese labor to extract the uranium it used in the atomic bombs it dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki Japan in WWII. While the full extent of the negative effects of radiation on the population around the mine are unknown, stories abound of children born with physical deformations generations later.
- The 29 U.S. military bases in Africa make a disproportionate contribution to greenhouse gas emissions on the continent, and substantially to ground and water pollution.
The U.S. military admits that its personnel are constantly exposed to toxins called ‘environmental hazards’ and offers some disability benefits. These benefits are not offered to the local civilian communities in Africa or elsewhere in the world who are suffering unspeakable harm and death.
- SOURCE: https://www.va.gov/disability/eligibility/hazardous-materials-exposure/specific-environmental-hazards
- In 2017, the U.S. Naval Air Station Oceana in Norfolk, Virginia, was found to have spilled 84,000 gallons of jet fuel into a waterway. Similarly, in 2019, statistics claimed that the Air Force contractor had been dumping industrial solvent Trichloroethylene (TCE) into the ground surrounding the Tucson International Airport for 29 years.
- The Environmental Working Group (EWG) reports that the toxic fluorinated chemicals known as PFAS are now confirmed or suspected at 678 military installations, and have contaminated the drinking water in the neighboring communities that surround them. PFAS chemicals have been linked to serious health problems including cancer and damage to the reproductive and immune systems.
- 28 percent of active duty personnel in the U.S. military are Black, more than twice the number of Blacks in the general population at 13 percent. Therefore Black women and men on military bases are exposed to PFAS toxins in contaminated drinking water disproportionately more than their white counterparts. Likewise, Black communities adjacent to U.S. military bases, the majority of which are located in the South, are disproportionately affected.
The Cold War, from 1945 to 1989, was a wild Bacchanalia for arms manufacturers, the Pentagon, the CIA, the diplomats who played one country off another on the world’s chess board, and the global corporations able to loot and pillage by equating predatory capitalism with freedom. In the name of national security, the Cold Warriors, many of them self-identified liberals, demonized labor, independent media, human rights organizations, and those who opposed the permanent war economy and the militarization of American society as soft on communism....
Peace has been sacrificed for US global hegemony. It has been sacrificed for the billions in profits made by the arms industry. Peace could have seen state resources invested in people rather than systems of control. It could have allowed us to address the climate emergency. But we cry peace, peace, and there is no peace. Nations frantically rearm, threatening nuclear war. They prepare for the worst, ensuring that the worst will happen....