The U.S. military produces more carbon than 140 other countries, causing climate change and environmental destruction. We will examine five ways that the Pentagon is destroying our environment.
Sam Carliner Left Voice
The summer of 2021 has been a worrying season for climate news. Massive fires raged from California to Europe; countries in the Global South have been hit by deadly droughts and historic winters; and on August 9, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report confirming what many people already knew: the climate crisis is already here. For the past three years, leading climate scientists have argued that the global average temperature rise needsTo remain below 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to avoid the worst impacts of the climate crisis. The recent IPCC report suggests that humanity is past the point where meeting that limit is possible.
Left Voice has regularly covered how the climate crisis is a result of the capitalist system which is incapable of responding to such a universal rapidly-evolving threat to humanity. While Capitalists are doing their part to fuel global disaster, the Pentagon, one of the bastions of the imperialist state, deserves a notable mention for its role in the climate crisis. The U.S. military, with its 800 foreign bases around the world to enforce the will and power of the U.S. empire, is a significant player. More polluters than 100 countries Combination.
Here are five ways that the Pentagon is causing climate change.
1: Keep Imperialism Running
As we have already mentioned, the U.S. military is made up of almost 800 bases in foreign territories and countries. It is difficult to keep all these bases functioning and connected without a large network of transportation, including ships, planes, and infrastructure like water and energy.
An article in Newsweek found that in 2017 the U.S. military bought about 269,230 barrels of oil a day and emitted more than 25,000 kilotonnes of carbon dioxide by burning those fuels. Brown University’s Research War costs Project shows that 400 million tons of CO2 were emitted by U.S. overseas contingency operations from 2001 to 2017. Other findings War costs Evidence shows that illegal logging has been a result of the war in Afghanistan, which has led to the destruction and destruction of wildlife habitats. The war in Iraq has also increased cancer rates and birth defects.
Even in non-warzones, the U.S. military continues to threaten human life by adding CO2 to the atmosphere. Even the most mundane fuel use of the U.S. military, such as lighting bases in Italy or filling vehicles to train U.S. troops overseas, causes irreparable harm. Spending a penny on such actions amounts to a penny spent using fossil fuels that are slowly making this world uninhabitable. This is all in the name of U.S. capitals control over the worlds resources.
2: Supporting Oil
The burning of fossil energy is one of the major contributors to climate change. As we have already mentioned, the U.S. military uses a lot of fossil fuel. But its role in fossil fuel consumption goes beyond its own consumption. A whole global economy has been built on the cheap extraction and sale of oil. This economy was built by fossil fuel capitalists who used theU.S. military uses violence to protect their interests. This was the main driver of U.S. military wars in the Middle East.
While we will never know the exact contribution of the Pentagon to global warming, we can calculate the extreme rise in oil production due to U.S. capital seizing Iraq with assistance from the U.S. military. 2016 Iraq produced more oil than 4 million barrels per dayIt produced more than twice as much in 2003, the year that the U.S. invaded.
The U.S. imperialist hegemony and oil production have created a difficult transition to renewable energy. Even with the obvious benefits of solar and wind technology for the planet, the most influential capital sectors will continue to support fossil fuel extraction. The most influential capital sectors will continue to oppose a green economy. They include finance capital, which has invested billions in oil and expects returns, as well as the fossil fuel industry, who has sunk costs in extraction infrastructure.
Continuing investment in oil will also mean continued investment into resource wars. Already, some officials at the U.S. State Department (and the Pentagon) have been discussing the need to make the United States a global power. Russia and Russia can compete in the Arctic over newly emerging trade routes and below ground oil reserves.
3: Harming Indigenous Communities
Indigenous peoples around the world have been At the forefront of environmental protection. Many indigenous communities have stood up for their land against the U.S. empire’s destructive tendencies.
The U.S. military was founded on a history that has seen war against Native Americans and their lands. This was the legacy left by the American Indian Wars. In these wars, the U.S. military was used to colonize North America and enforce the genocide and theft of land.
The U.S. military, which has foreign bases, continues to be a threat for indigenous communities and their land. The resistance led by indigenous communities has been a constant in the face of U.S. military violence against indigenous peoples. In the example of in OkinawaThe U.S. military’s presence has been a subject of considerable opposition. The indigenous Okinawans are currently trying to stop the construction of a new base that would destroy burial grounds of war victims and pose a threat 262 endangered species.
As Biden’s focus shifts to China and the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. military presence is likely to be a more prominent part of his administration. It is therefore crucial that an international environmental movement stands in solidarity with the indigneous communities living on islands that are vital to U.S. operations, such as Okinawa. Hawaii, Guam.
4: Producing Hazardous Waste
The U.S. military bases can cause serious damage on foreign soil. The toxic chemicals produced by military bases in the United States have gravely affected the health of communities living near them. One of the Military pollution is the most severe form of pollution throughout the United States is a synthetic foam known as (AFFF).
This chemical was developed by the U.S. Navy in the 1960s. It has been shown to cause a variety of immune, hormonal and reproductive health problems, some of which can be fatal, as well various types of cancer. The foam was regularly used by the military in training exercises at hundreds more bases across the United States. Seepage into the water and soil across the country, poisoning communities while the military dodges accountability.
The Pentagon has begun to dispose of their AFFF supply in response to several class action lawsuits. They do this by incinerating the material, creating a whole A new form of grand scale poisoning.
5: Deprioritizing Worthwhile Projects
The United States is constantly told that money is not available to implement comprehensive measures to combat the climate crisis. Public transportation, green infrastructure, and solar energy are all examples. They are too costly.
The truth is that there is money available for such projects, but it is going to the Pentagon. 2015 was a year of significant military spending. Received 54 percent of federal budgetEach new budget further reduces funding for The Pentagon. Already, the Biden administration requested a 2022 defense budget which would increase military spending by 1.6 percent compared to this year.
Instead of military spending, the $715 billion Biden asks for in this budget could be used to fund green infrastructure projects. It would take just eight years to replace the U.S. electric grid with renewable energy if $715 billion was allocated annually. Completely replace the entire electrical grid of the United States.
There are many smaller projects you could accomplish with just one year’s worth of the 2022 budget. The $715 trillion is more than enough to pay for the boats. Clean the Great Pacific Garbage PatchAn island of garbage twice as big as Texas, currently floating between California & Hawaii.
Defund the Pentagon
Only socialism can effectively address the climate crisis that is already destroying entire ecosystems, and threatening lives. Capitalism is responsible for the climate crisis. Texas freezes to death due to their power grid crashIn the winter and when Unprecedented heat waves kill people in the Pacific Northwest. Capitalism is a killer by depriving the most exploited country of their wealth Food and water and by subjecting oppressed communities in the imperialist countries to environmental racism. The global environmental movement needs to take a revolutionary stand against capitalism it needs to be led by the poor and working-class communities around the world who are already facing the worst consequences of capitalist-fueled climate change.
Part of the fight to end capitalism is also the fight against Imperialism. Leftists in imperialist nations, particularly the United States, have an obligation for many reasons to fight imperialism. The U.S. Left should demand defunding of Pentagon because of the role of the U.S. military fueling climate change.
Defunding Pentagon would mean closing the 800 bases, web of ships, and planes that need an endless supply of fuel. It means not polluting working class communities with hazardous waste. It also means stating to everyone that the climate crisis isn’t the fault of any one person, but the capitalist and their institutions. Leaders of movements to combat climate change and the working class need to unite around the demand for green energy and environmental conservation, while avoiding war and other forms of imperialist aggression.
Sam Carliner, a socialist with a background as a journalist, is an example of a journalist. He writes mostly for Left Voice on US imperialism. He tweets about imperialism at @saminthecan