Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Emmission control, greenhouse gases, global warming, climate change and human conflict.

There seems to be very little information or study dedicated to measuring the impact of human conflict, war to be precise, on climate change, global warming in particular.

Several searches on Google and other search engines render few results on the subject. Here are a few sample questions that a researcher may consider.

Producing instruments of war:
  • How much energy is consumed in the manufacture of, for instance, a Hummer, a tank, a smart bomb, an F-16, an aircraft carrier, a hand gun, a nuclear warhead? Make a list of all the instruments of war manufactured since, say 1900, as a starting point. Take the list and multiply it by the total number produced over the lifespan of the item. Add it all up and calculate the pollutants and gases produced as a result of the manufacturing process.

Using the instruments of war:

  • How much energy was required to arm the instruments of war in terms of munitions?
  • How much energy was used in getting the instruments of war to the battlefield? For instance, how much jet fuel, diesel and gasoline did it take to get the US forces to Iraq to begin with and how much has been consumed in ferrying the troops back and forth since the war began?
  • Leave Iraq aside and ask the same questions with respect to all other conflicts currently underway? How much, say, did the Israeli bombing Lebanon this year contribute to global warming?

The long term effects of war:

  • When Saddam Hussein decided to torch the oil fields at the time when the Iraqi forces retreated from their failed invasion on Kuwait the resultant fires and smoke hung like a vile smog over the planet earth, easily visible from space; do we know, or will we ever know how this impacted sustainability of life on earth?
  • Each small explosion is a pollutant; how does the grand total of all explosions since 1900 register on the climate change scale?

While the Kyoto agreement is well-meant it comes nowhere close to seriously addressing the issue of climate change. The fact that certain developed countries choose to ignore even this miniscule attempt at correcting the direction in which we are headed, is astounding. Far from being a step in the right direction, Kyoto is nothing more than a glance in the right direction.

While international aid agencies undertake a variety of missions and good work to save helpless communities in one corner of the globe or another, our leaders from every side of the political spectrum continue to fail us utterly by ignoring the larger issue which asks a simple question: do we have any interest at all in perpetuating life on earth?

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