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Military, Conflict, & Carbon


#Conflict #Fossil Fuels #Military #War


Doug Fogelson

According to “The Pentagon Climate Change, and War” by Neta C. Crawford (and many other studies) the US Department of Defense is the largest fossil fuel consumer and institutional greenhouse gas emitter in the world. Indeed, National Security is deeply interlinked with protection of fossil fuels and their use. Still the Departments in the Pentagon are responsible for “77 to 80 percent of all Federal Government energy consumption since 2001″.

The levels of emissions spike during active conflicts for obvious reasons. Moving heavy equipment around by land, air, and sea takes a lot of energy, as does being stationed abroad, provided supplies, munitions, and deploying or engaging in battle (or simulations/training sessions). These uses are termed “operational energy” and account for 70% of consumption with the largest needs in jet and diesel fuel. Such valuable petroleum resources themselves have become targets and weapons such as the targeting or burning of oil fields in Iraq and Syria in 2015.

Harder factors to calculate are additional costs and impacts both up and downstream in the form of pollutants, toxins, materials, infrastructure, etc. during and remaining long after a conflict. One very significant cost is the loss of natural carbon sequestration that is performed by forests and other natural spaces that are harmed or lost. Preserving the land could be viewed as a “National Security Concern” too as it helps the entire planet reduce carbon (once destroyed this becomes a negative exponential factor).

The United States and other active military forces around the world have made some moves to apply efficient logistics and methods, but it is not significant enough. Transitioning to renewable and alternative fuel and energy solutions, eliminating dependence on foreign oil, closing stations/bases, using LEED standards, reducing manufacturing, etc. are a few ways they can reduce threat from emissions. Increasing or expanding military tends to have a mirror effect in other countries, reduction or consolidation can too.

As societies work toward building a resilient future it is practical to have expectations of conflict, migration, etc. due to the climate emergency. It makes sense to have a sustainably minded military industrial complex that leads on these issues rather than exacerbating them.

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  • From 2001 to 2019 the Defense Logistics Agency’s average annual fuel purchases were about 122.4 million barrels of all types of fuel.

    True True, and that is a lot of fuel. False It is actually True.