7 Jan 2008

Iraq: Ecosystems burn

Well they say if Iraq had grown carrots the US would never have invaded and therefore this is an oil war full stop. However in 1954 the US backed the coup in Guatamala because the social democrat government upset United Fruit who grew bananas.

Saddam was not a good thing for the environment, famously draining the marshes in the south to assault his Shia enemies in the marshes.

The war though has and continues to have a devasting effect on the environment.

Among other things, the war itself is producing enormous amounts of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Because U.S. forces in Iraq are so reliant on combat planes, helicopters, and armored vehicles to conduct basic operations, they are using, on average, 16 gallons of oil per soldier per day – four times as much as soldiers in Operation Desert Storm and 16 times as much as those of World War II. Add up all the U.S. soldiers and sailors in Iraq and neighboring countries and aboard U.S. ships in the Gulf, and this works out to about 3 million gallons per day – equivalent to daily consumption by the entire population of Bangladesh. To this must be added the carbon dioxide released by pipeline and refinery explosions, the aircraft used to ferry U.S. troops in and out of Iraq, and other war-related activities.

The war’s biggest impact, however, will probably lie in all the money spent on fighting the war that will never be available to address the climate change dilemma. According to the most recent calculation by the National Priorities Project, the United States has already spent $475 billion on the war, with another $155 billion in supplemental funding pending before Congress. But even these prodigious sums do not include the hundreds of billions that must be added for the care of wounded and traumatized veterans of the war, interest on the Iraqi war debt, and the replacement of damaged or destroyed weapons and military hardware – expenses which will surely push the combined total well over $2 trillion (as Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have estimated), and probably much higher.

Counterpunch notes:

The future indeed looks bleak for the ecosystems and biodiversity of Iraq, but the consequences of the U.S. military invasion will not only be confined to the war stricken country. The Gulf shores, according to BirdLife's Mike Evans, is "one of the top five sites in the world for wader birds, and a key refueling area for hundreds of thousands of migrating water birds." The U.N. Environment Program claims that 33 wetland areas in Iraq are of vital importance to the survival of various bird species. These wetlands, the U.N. claims, are also particularly vulnerable to pollution from munitions fallout as well as oil wells that have been sabotaged.


Joe Otten said...

Might not the biggest impact be the people who were killed?

Next to a deadly folly of this scale, complaining about the oil and money, is a bit like objecting to the burning of heretics because of the smoke.

Derek Wall said...

well of course. I thought, however, it would be good to do a blog about the environmental effects, I did work hard as I am sure you did to try to stop Bush and Blair burning people.

And we all need to protest to bring the troops back and stop the nuking of Tehran....

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