Caroline Bridgman-Rees / US Peace Council – 2015-12-20 21:31:01
US Military Pollution and Climate Change
Caroline Bridgman-Rees / US Peace Council
(With major information from Dr. Rosalie Bertell, author of “Planet Earth, The Latest Weapon of War,” Sara Flounders, International Action Center, Dr. H. Patricia Hynes, retired Public Health Professor at Boston University and at Traprock Center for Peace and Justice, and other Climate Change experts.)
US military pollution is the worst in the world. Its assault on the climate hastens global disaster, threatens human lives everywhere, and wastes precious natural resources for all future generations.
The US federal government, Department of Defense, Congress and NATO are responsible for this pollution, as are political and corporate leaders, military industrialists, contractors, engineers, and scientists. All of them justify violent methods of national security for profit and power.
From the Kyoto Protocol in 1997 to more recent international environmental accords, the US has gotten away with military exemptions in climate change negotiations. It continues to unleash polluted, radioactive weaponry and vast toxic land and air, and to spread massive suffocating greenhouse emissions.
This happens every day on countless millions of acres all around the globe, 1,000 U.S military bases in over 100 countries. 6,000 military facilities in the US, and wherever US warfare leads. The US pollution virus is now infecting Africa, following the US military alliance Africom.
Unfortunately, most American climate change activists ignore the importance of US military pollution, and the mainstream media fail to report the grim facts. US military expenditures and pollution are bigger than all other nations’ put together. US yearly military chemical toxic waste is larger than that of the five largest chemical companies. By the 1980s, a ton of such waste occurred every minute.
At least 900 of 1300 US Superfunds, required by US law to clean up highly contaminated sites, are military, and the US allows this assault on the environment even though it has been analyzed by the FDA, NRDC, CIA, and DOD.
The result: dangerous military waste and debris -abandoned used weapons, vehicles, planes, ships, chemical explosives, and chemicals like benzene, chloroethylene, perchlorate, mustard gas, and many more.
The subject is vast; the facts are incomplete.
Here are six of endless examples of US pollution:
1. The small island of Vieques, Puerto Rico., endured for many years constant US military exercises and toxic chemicals with a frightening impact on people, soil, and wild life: cancer, early death, reproductive abnormalities, and arsenic and lead poisoning. Lawsuits exposed terrible harm.
2. 20 million gallons of Agent Orange, manufactured mainly by Dow Company, were dumped on Vietnam during the war despite the fact that the companies already knew the herbicide’s extreme toxicity and the 1925 Geneva Convention had long banned defoliants.
400,000 Agent Orange deaths in Vietnam occurred before 1975, and two million Americans were also exposed to cancer and other ailments. The Vietnamese continue to suffer, as do thousands of American soldiers and civilians.
In 2010, the Vietnamese asked for $300 million to clean-up the contaminated soil and fish ponds but got only $9 million from the US. The clean-up was “exempted” by the Supreme Court. USAID gave some remedial aid in 2011, as did a Vietnamese-U.S Friendship Village. A film at a recent Agent Orange conference showed some of the 500,000 genetically deformed Vietnamese babies and children born five decades AFTER the war. Also, millions of people were seriously affected by dioxin.
3. In the early1950s the US exploded a monstrous hydrogen bomb in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. Since then many nuclear tests and fall-outs have caused much death and suffering to the islanders and devastation on land and sea. The Marshall Islands are currently suing the DOD. This year the DOD plans to spend one trillion dollars over 30 years on a new generation of nuclear weapons.
4. During the years the US Marine Corps’ Camp Lejeune was situated in North Carolina, there was much death and illness from contaminated water causing liver, kidney, and other forms of cancer. The journalist Dan Rather described it as “the worst example of water contamination this country has seen.”
5. The pollution during and after the Iraq War speaks for itself. The US has spent $2 trillion so far and left total chaos, political confusion, and suffering for years to come: destroyed the Iraq infrastructure, ruined much of the land, spread depleted uranium and other toxic materials, used countless tons of cement to destroy and then “rebuild Iraq “and left over millions of injured, dead, impoverished, and refugeed Iraqis; also many thousands of dead, injured, traumatized, victimized Americans. Ditto Afghanistan, etc.
6. US military consumption of petroleum has uncontrollably expanded by the US blanket “national climate exemptions ” and has been concealed and muted by the DOD and the Environment Protection Agency.
The US uses one fourth of the world’s petroleum, and staggering amounts are used by weaponry and the 1000 military bases with its “oil security.” 4.5 billion gallons are devoured by the military every year, and gas emissions of CO2 are skyrocketing.
U.S biological warfare and pollution have been called “Bargain with the Devil.” Biological weapons have been used ever since Roman times. Even though military research on viruses and bacteria in animals and people was temporarily halted at Fort Dietrich in Maryland in 1942, and even though in 1972 the US ratified the UN International Biological and Toxic Weapons Convention, private labs, universities, and research centers have continued to work on lethal bacteria and viruses.
From 2002-2009, there were 400 military research facilities, 1500 researchers, and $60 billion available from the DOD. In fact, the DOD always relies heavily on many universities to do such research.
There is much lack of security, transparency and safety; pathogens are missing, the environment is vulnerable; bio-agents for bio-defense such as anthrax, plague, and tularemia have increased 1500%.
No provision has been made for accountability, verification, or protocol. For example, Boston University already plans to build bio-weapons in poor, crowded areas, pending approval of the courts and public health.
Depleted uranium is another “Dead by Impact.” pollution. The DOD dropped 1100 tons of Depleted Uranium (DU) on Iraq and contaminated 40% of 540,000 Iraq veterans. The US.
government has done little research on DU and been secretive. So far the Pentagon regards it as somewhat harmless, but birth defects, breast cancer, leukemia, damage in the lungs and cells, and dust in the body bring great peril.
The Pentagon has 450,000 tons of DU and has used a lot of DU in Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Balkans. DU can penetrate lead and steel, also soil, groundwater, and human beings. It should be stopped, as the landmines were, though deplorably late.
Weapons of mass destruction such as cluster bombs, called “ongoing silent terrorism.” will defile the earth for hundreds of years. Unexploded millions of cluster bombs are still in the ground; they currently go off every 20 minutes. 80% of people who have come in contact with cluster bombs are maimed or dead.
In the Indochina War, 6.5 million cluster weapons were dropped. Many of them remain in Cambodia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Mozambique, especially in agricultural land which continues to curtail and threaten food security.
In 1997, the UN Convention for Prohibiting Anti-personnel Weapons and the 2011 UN Convention on Cluster Munitions were passed, but Russia, US, and China have not signed, nor have Pakistan, India, North and South Korea, Israel, and Iran.
Military pollution threatens the sky. Weather warfare can cause man-made earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunamis, and eco-terrorism. Missile defense systems and solar power satellites are part of the Strategic Defense Initiative — Star Wars: ballistic defense, laser technology, radar systems, plans for control of cyberspace, and many other space projects. 549 US military and civilian satellites now orbit the sky. Pollution on the earth and in the sky is steadily growing.
Civilian space programs and the military exploitation of geophysical Research and Atmospheric Modification Experiments are also being developed. Alaska-based HAARP (High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program) can heat the ionosphere hotter than the Earth, destroy selected targets on the Earth and destabilize the earth’s life cycle; a rise in electromagnetic radiation may cause cancer and alter brain and body chemistry.
This partial summary of US military pollution exposes and challenges our toxic military empire. Citizen action is imperative! As Rosemary Bertell summed it up: ” . . . warfare reflects a value system that places the acquisition and protection of wealth above the preservation of life . . . There is simply no point in waging wars to ‘protect our assets’ if we have harmed the regenerative power of the Earth.”
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.