1. Kelly Smithers
  2. Military & Security
  3. Wednesday, 13 January 2021
I keep encountering stories about the military creating pollution and other environmental problems. For example, burn pits have been associate with a wide range of health problems, as has depleted uranium; military sonar harms whales and dophins; and the US military consumes more liquid fuels and emits more CO2e (carbon-dioxide equivalent) than most countries.

My question is, does anyone know if militaries are taking any meaningful action to mitigate environmental and health impacts?
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I know from past jobs that military contracts are some of the largest contracts companies can get for renewable power and green buildings.

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This website has a decent number of stories related to this topic:

Adam Thyer, Founder at GreenExecutive
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I'm definitely not an expert on this, but here are a few observations:

  • There will be a growing number of refugees due to things such as extreme heat, drought, water scarcity, topsoil degradation, sea level rise, extreme weather events, crop failures, fisheries collapse, and resulting food shortages.

  • The problems mentioned above will greatly increase the risk of civil unrest. They will also increase the probability of more wars being fought over the increasingly scarce natural resources.

  • Renewable energy sources such as solar are potentially very attractive to the military because it means that they do not need to transport fuel, which is extremely challenging in a war zone.

  • Electric vehicle are powerful, quiet, and low maintenance.

  • Health related law suits can be very costly.

In other words, there are some very good reasons for militaries to become more sustainable. However, as we have seen in the civilian world, common sense often gets ignored if it conflicts with vested interests.
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I just read this story (based on this academic paper) which says "US military is a bigger polluter than as many as 140 countries". It also implies that they are trying to avoid accountability:

It’s no coincidence that US military emissions tend to be overlooked in climate change studies. It’s very difficult to get consistent data from the Pentagon and across US government departments. In fact, the United States insisted on an exemption for reporting military emissions in the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
  1. https://theconversation.com/us-military-is-a-bigger-polluter-than-as-many-as-140-countries-shrinking-this-war-machine-is-a-must-119269
  2. https://rgs-ibg.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/tran.12319
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