By Lisa Savage
|Source for graphics: World Beyond War “War threatens our environment”
Data source: The Green Zone: The Environmental Costs of War by Barry Sanders
Repeatedly in my lifetime there has been talk of a peace dividend. Generally this presumed dividend was described in terms of money saved from whichever armed conflict was ending or “cold war” was winding down. After WWII, after Vietnam, after the Berlin Wall came down the world was going to suddenly have lots of resources to rebuild infrastructure and invest in things people actually needed. Public transportation, universal healthcare, free education through college — all of these and more would be possible when the peace dividend paid off.
But peace dividends were short-lived when they materialized at all. There always seemed to be, and still seems to be, a new enemy on the horizon. Nazi Germany and imperial Japan vanquished? Fear the Soviet Russians! U.S.S.R. defunct? Fear the Taliban! Taliban in retreat? Look out for al-Qaeda! Al-Qaeda in tatters? Beware ISIS/ISIL/Daesh or whatever you prefer to call the armed militants in Iraq and Syria.
What would a real peace dividend look like from the point of view of environmental health and well-being? Here are some possibilities:
The peace dividend that life on our planet desperately needs can be measured best not in dollars but in carbon emissions.
38,700,000 metric tons of CO2 produced by the Pentagon
burning fuel equivalent to 90,000,000 barrels of oil (in 2013).
Image: Anthony Freda. Used with permission