The real cost of war to our climate

The real cost of war to our climate

The real cost of war to our climate

First published in Keith Thomson Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , Environmental columnist

Every news bulletin these days seems to include more and more stories of dissent, aggression, fighting, and open warfare somewhere on the planet. Recent statistics support this view and apparently there are only eleven countries in the world that are not currently involved with fighting somewhere.

This shortlist even includes countries like Vietnam and Japan that haven’t been peaceful for too long, or Brazil where internal disorder is not unknown.

The UK ranks 47th in the peaceful list of 162 nations, and all in all it’s quite clear that the human species finds it very difficult to get on with its neighbours. It’s a particularly short sighted and selfish attitude as it ignores the real threat to our life on the planet, and this doesn’t involve squabbling over territory, resources or religious and political ideologies.

Nationalism, and its defence, really impedes positive action to reduce the rate at which we are changing the climate. By the time we understand why we need to work together it will be too late. We could decarbonise the whole of the world’s energy supply within twenty years, and significantly slow down the CO2 build up if we sorted out our problems peacefully.

The amount of money spent on the world’s military is simply staggering. This year the expenditure will be well over a trillion dollars - that is $1,000,000,000,000 or a thousand billion. That would pay for one thousand nuclear power stations and inter-continental electricity grids as there would be the same amount available in 2015, and in 2016, and so on.

Apart from all the extra research that could be afforded, to produce more efficient solar panels, and the next stage in battery technology for the storage of surplus power, from the wind and the tides, there’s also the amount of carbon dioxide produced by the military establishment, even before fighting starts.

Only 30 countries in the world use more oil than the US Pentagon, with its navy, air force and ground troops. It’s estimated that serving soldiers are each responsible for using 16 gallons of oil daily. Peace, and the consequent CO2 reduction, is possible, but it will take political courage.

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