- by Anna Pha
- The Guardian
- Issue #2046
Humanity faces two major existential threats: climate change and nuclear war. The doomsday clock is ticking on both these threats. Ironically, the US war machine which is the largest single contributor to climate change faces threats from climate change – witness the extreme weather events. The Pentagon is the world’s biggest single consumer of fossil fuels – and driver of climate change. US military greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions since the beginning of the so-called Global War on Terror in 2001 total an estimated 1.2 billion metric tonnes of greenhouse gases.
The military are estimated to produce 5.5 per cent of global GHG emissions. This estimate does not take into account GHG emissions arising from the impacts of warfighting, such as fires, other damage to infrastructure and ecosystems, post-conflict reconstruction, and health-care for survivors. The under current UN Framework for the Convention on Climate Change there is a loophole whereby nations are only required to report their military’s fuel usage data. What data they do provide is often distorted by appearing under the aviation category. There is no obligation to report GHG emissions resulting from the manufacture of materiel, war exercises, weapons testing, and wars.
“War fighting, preparations for war, the manufacture of weapons and military facilities are highly polluting, highly damaging to the environment and a major contributor to climate change. The overall environmental cost of waging war is huge,” notes Dr Hannah Middleton in Fighting for the Future.
“Military pollution is particularly poisonous. Fighter jets, destroyers, tanks and other weapons systems emit highly toxic, carbon-intensive emissions, not to mention the toxins released from the detonation of bombs including the forever-poison depleted uranium munitions.”
“The damage the US military has inflicted is shocking, and they have shown complete negligence and disregard of human life,” earth.org reports. There are numerous examples of this disregard from the US’s use of agent orange in Vietnam to the firing of depleted uranium (DU) weapons at civilian areas as well as troops. The cost to the planet and humanity cannot be measured in dollars.
War not only contributes to climate change, but climate change can lead to conflicts as nations are faced with famine, loss of fertile land, contaminated water supplies, and other consequences of extreme weather events.
The AUKUS deal at $368 billion plus cost blowouts is the largest and most lucrative single deal ever with almost all of it going offshore. The Albanese Labor government’s allocation for climate change and energy transformation is a pathetic and shameful $24.9 billion over the six years to 2029-30. Every dollar spent on these war preparations is a dollar less for health, education, housing, the NDIS, a dollar less for pensioners and the unemployed. It takes Australia another step closer to war, possibly a nuclear war. It is yet another nail in the coffin for humanity and the planet.
Time is running out. The government must cancel the submarines, slash military spending and redirect the savings to social spending in the interests of the Australian people and genuine foreign aid. The South Australian shipyards could be converted to build a merchant fleet for Australia – a step towards greater sovereignty. It is time Australia signed the United Nations treaty outlawing nuclear weapons and played a role of peacemaker in the Indo-Pacific.