Peace is environmentally friendly

The true environmental impact of war machines

by Steve Cook

We recently featured two articles that touched upon the cost to us all of endless wars:

Paradise for psychopaths, a pain in the ass for everybody else  . . .

. . . covered how the money spent on waging war, if put to better and more constructive use, could transform our countries.

Military’s carbon boot print stomping on the face of the planet . . .

. . . took a look at how the gas-guzzling US war machine’s carbon footprint has an enormous impact upon the environment – it is in essence the world’s single biggest institutional polluter. We made the point at the time that you can extrapolate from this the combined impact upon the environment of all the planet’s war machines .

But this article only looked at the impact of RUNNING the US war machine – the supply lines, transportation, fleets of ships crossing the oceans, aircraft whizzing this way and that and so forth.

Yet that is only a part of the overall pollution picture.

Pollution and more Pollution

What about the financial cost and impact upon the environment of BUILDING that war machine in the first place -manufacturing those tanks, ships, trucks and aircraft, repairing them, replacing them when they get shot up, blown up or otherwise broken as things tend to do in war?

So we have the impact of all the factories, docks and industrial plants that make the ships, tanks, trucks and planes, the guns, missiles, mines, helicopters, ancillary equipment, barracks, hangars, uniforms . . . the list just goes on and on.

Even more impact on the environment

And it is not only the impact of the factories and manufacturing plants. What is the impact of BUILDING and maintaining those factories? Of mining the raw materials their construction requires? Of the transport that ships those materials?

What is for instance the total impact upon the environment of building a single aircraft carrier (from mining the raw materials, to assembling and kitting out the finished item? What is the total expenditure of human energy, mechanical energy, ingenuity, resources, raw materials required to build an aircraft carrier?

And if you took all the materials and energy required to build and equip just one aircraft carrier how many, for example, wind farms, solar farms or wave-power installations could be constructed with it? Or how many tress planted, areas reforested and so on?

Machines of war only destroy

The thing about any machine of war: an aircraft carrier, tanks, planes, missiles and so on is that, once built, it does not do anything except destroy something else. That is what it is designed for. And it CONSUMES a lot of fossil fuel and pollutes the air in the process.

You build, say, a string of wind farms with the same amount of energy and materials and the wind farms then, with far less ongoing maintenance, or the accompanying mayhem of things blowing up, repay your effort by providing energy – and through the process of proving energy, they consume nothing and pollute nothing.

The environmental cost of rebuilding what was destroyed

Consider too that a wind farm, for example, just sits there converting free sun/wind energy into electrical power. It does not blow up, smash up, crush, burn or otherwise obliterate anything.

And that is the other cost of your war machine: it destroys bridges, roads, buildings, entire cities, creating a lot of pollution whilst doing so, consuming an awful lot of fossil fuels whilst doing so. The bridges, roads, building and cities that have been destroyed, then have to be repaired or rebuilt. The rebuilding of war-ravaged real estate and infrastructure itself requires massive amounts of energy and raw materials (that have to be mined, processed and shipped) and creates a lot of pollution whilst the rebuilt is being carried out..

The true environmental impact of war . . .

. . .  is virtually incalculable. Economies such as the US have become dependent on war and continual preparedness for war and in so doing they divert massive investments of time, inventiveness, human industry and creativity, not to mention resources and energy away from constructive projects (such as good husbandry of our planet) whilst at the same time massively accelerating environmental destruction.

A war machine is a parasitic entity

It is as if someone was looking for a way to hold back human civilisation or even place human survival in jeopardy –  a parasitic entity that would bleed humanity of its human and material resources on a vast scale, keep right on dismantling or turning to rubble what generations of good men have laboured hard to build, whilst churning out massive pollution and depleting or dispersing the energies that could have been focused on resolving environmental problems. And they came up with the perfect solution: keep humanity at war or under threat of war.

You want to do something to help the environment? Get the psychopaths to stop building war machines.

Peace, it seems, is environmentally friendly.

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About Steve Cook 512 Articles
Director, UK Reloaded
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