I sometimes wonder why it takes so long to recognize something that has been in plain sight all along. This time, it is the link between war and climate change. I recently wrote about the U.S. military being that largest consumer of oil there is in the world. Thus, if greenhouse gas emissions are ever going to be significantly reduced, military fossil fuel consumption will have to be reduced drastically in a very short period of time.
My first thought was if we could get enough people to realize the connections between war and climate change, that would free up some of the billions of dollars from the unbelievably gigantic military budget, which could be used to help fund policies related to a Green New Deal (GND). Although attempts to reduce military spending have been singularly unsuccessful in the past, and that budget has instead been steadily increasing, I was hoping the increasing numbers and severity of fire, storms and flooding might result in the possibility of some shifting of priorities in government spending.
Unfortunately, the more I have studied the connections between oil and war, the more daunting changing these priorities looks. A recent article, “War Is War On Mother Earth” by Richard Moser, Counterpunch.org, May 28, 2019, explores this is great detail.
“In order to achieve the massive systemic and cultural transformations required for mitigating climate change…we’re going to have to deal with the socially sanctioned, institutionalized violence perpetrated by U.S. foreign policy that is pouring fuel on the fire of global warming.”Stacy Bannerman
Although it has long been known that climate change will lead to conflict, the following report shows this has already been happening. The war in Syria is an example.
published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, compiled statistics showing that water shortages in the Fertile Crescent in Syria, Iraq, and Turkey killed livestock, drove up food prices, sickened children, and forced 1.5 million rural residents to the outskirts of Syria’s jam-packed cities—just as that country was exploding with immigrants from the Iraq war.Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
The U.S. military has long seen climate change as a “threat multiplier”. During this spring’s flooding the runways of Moffett Air Force Base in Nebraska were under water. Many military bases are along coasts, where water levels are predicted to rise. The idea of climate change as a threat multiplier tends to encourage militarized responses.
“Possessing the world’s largest fleet of…aircraft, helicopters, ships, tanks, armored vehicles…– virtually all powered by oil — the Department of Defense is, in fact, the world’s leading consumer of petroleum… [A]n April 2007 report by a defense contractor…suggests that the Pentagon might consume as much as 340,000 barrels (14 million gallons) every day. This is greater than the total national consumption of Sweden or Switzerland.”Michael Klare
The war machine burns oil to capture oil to burn oil to capture oil. The empire is no marketplace: it’s both supply and demand.“War Is War On Mother Earth”
“The rapid rise in greenhouse gas emissions that created the current climate crisis began around 1950…in the period immediately following the Second World War…..The Allies would not have won had they not been able to cut off German access to oil and to maintain it for themselves. The lesson for the US…was that… monopolization of the world’s oil was essential if it was to be the world’s superpower. This made oil a central military priority, and also cemented the dominant position of the petroleum/automotive sector in the US.”Why stopping wars is essential for stopping climate change by Elaine Graham-Leigh, CounterFire March 22, 2019
In 1980, President Carter reasserted the connections between US policy, military force and oil. Shaken by the overthrow of a CIA-installed regime in Iran in 1979 and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, Carter’s State of the Union Address proclaimed US control over Middle East oil.
The region which is now threatened by Soviet troops in Afghanistan is of great strategic importance: It contains more than two-thirds of the world’s exportable oil….Let our position be absolutely clear: an attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.“War Is War On Mother Earth”
The Obama Administration discovered, in the melting Arctic, both our past glories and potential for future wealth.
“The Arctic is one of our planet’s last great frontiers. Our pioneering spirit is naturally drawn to this region, for the economic opportunities it presents and in recognition of the need to protect and conserve this unique, valuable, and changing environment.”
Are we supposed to believe that the very institutions that melted the polar ice caps can now be trusted to “protect and conserve” what’s left? The same document claims it’s going to “account for indigenous communities.” Right, just like natives were accounted for at Standing Rock (to name but one of many examples).
Falsehoods of this magnitude can only seem believable when they are part of a culture’s deepest mythologies. The “last great frontier” and “pioneering spirit” is code for empire, the colonial project and in this case — an updated version of the Doctrine of Discovery. Obama called forth the frontier spirits — a year later the US staked its claim to the newly “discovered” territory with a military strategy for the Arctic.https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/sites/default/files/docs/nat_arctic_strategy.pdf