[pjw] INFO: US military has the carbon footprint to prove fuel dependency (Street Roots 2/14)
Peace and Justice Works
pjw at pjw.info
Tue Mar 24 19:44:12 EDT 2020
Hello PJW supporters
We hope everyone is staying safe and informed during these days of crisis.
As noted in our emails around the anniversary of the Iraq war, the wars
have not stopped for the pandemic so sadly our work must continue.
Below is an article from over a month ago written by friend to PJW Martin
Hart Landsberg for Street Roots. We talked about it at our meeting 2 weeks
ago and I said I would forward this to everyone as it echoes the work
we've been doing connecting climate change to militarism.
We will also continue to get you more up-to-date news in the coming weeks
Also for now our next Iraq Affinity Group meeting is still set for Monday
April 13, but it's likely to be in the form of a conference call, more
details to come.
peace and justice works
U.S. military depends on fuel - and has the carbon footprint to prove it
COMMENTARY | As the largest greenhouse gas emitter in the world,
America's military must be reined in
by Martin Hart-Landsberg | 14 Feb 2020
Climate change is happening, highlighted by dramatically shifting
weather patterns and ever more deadly storms, floods, droughts and
wildfires. And the evidence is overwhelming that it is driven by the
steady increase in greenhouse gases in our atmosphere produced by our
fossil fuel-based economic system.
Aware of global warming's deadly consequences, millions of people have
taken to the streets to demand action to end our use of fossil fuels as
part of a systemwide transformation that would also ensure a just
transition for all communities and workers.
However, the largest generator of greenhouse gas emissions continues to
fly above the clouds and largely out of public view. As Neta Crawford,
co-director of Brown University's Costs of War Project, points out,
"the (U.S.) Department of Defense is the world's largest institutional
user of petroleum and, correspondingly, the single largest producer of
greenhouse gases in the world."
Flying above the clouds
We know that we have an enormous military budget. U.S. military
spending is greater than the total military spending of the next seven
countries combined: China, Saudi Arabia, India, France, Russia, United
Kingdom, and Germany. The budget of the Department of Defense alone
commands more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending each
This kind of information is readily available. The military's
contribution to global warming is not. One reason is that because of
U.S. government pressure, the governments negotiating the 1992 Kyoto
Protocol agreed that emissions generated by military activity would not
count as national emissions and would not have to be reported. As a
consequence, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which
produces one of the world's most trusted reports on the rate at which
climate change is occurring, does not include national military
emissions in its calculations.
Uncovering the carbon costs of the U.S. military
Although the military does not publicly disclose its fuel use, four
researchers -- Oliver Belcher, Benjamin Neimark, Patrick Bigger and
Cara Kennelly -- used multiple Freedom of Information Act requests to
the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) to produce solid estimates.
The DLA is charged with overseeing the supply chain that supports all
military activities, including its warfighting, peacekeeping and base
operations. The Defense Logistics Agency-Energy (DLA-E), a unit within
the DLA, has responsibility for managing the military's energy
requirements. As Belcher, Neimark, Bigger and Kennelly explain, "the
DLA-E is the one-stop shop for fueling purchases and contracts within
the U.S. military both domestically and internationally, and acts as
the U.S. military's internal market for all consumables, including
In simple terms, the military needs fuel -- to fly its jets and bombers
on surveillance or attack missions, to deliver troops and weapons to
bases and areas of conflict, to power ships on maneuvers, to run the
vehicles used by patrols and fighting forces, and to maintain base
operations here and around the world. And because it is the DLA-E that
secures and distributes the required fuel, the four researchers used
"Freedom of Information Act requests to compile a database of DLA-E
records for all known land, sea, and aircraft fuel purchases, as well
as fuel contracts made with U.S. operators in military posts, camps,
stations and ship bunkers abroad from FY 2013 to 2017." The resulting
calculation of total fuel purchases served as the basis for the
authors' estimate of the military's production of greenhouse gas
The U.S. military runs on fuel
The fuel dependence of the U.S. military has dramatically grown over
time. The main reason is that the military has come to depend ever more
on airpower to directly threaten or attack its enemies as well as
support its heavily armored ground forces operating in foreign
countries. And airpower guzzles fuel.
For example, the fuel consumption of a B-2 Bomber is 4.28 gallons to
the mile. That is gallons to the mile, not the more common miles to the
gallon. The fuel consumption of a F-35A Fighter bomber is 2.37 gallons
to the mile, and it is 4.9 miles to the gallon for a KC-135R Refueling
Tanker (loaded with transfer fuel). The military's non-armored vehicles
are also heavy gas users. The Army's 60,000 HUMVEEs get between 4 and 8
miles per gallon of diesel fuel.
Needless to say, an active military will burn through a lot of fuel.
And as Belcher, Neimark, Bigger and Kennelly point out, the U.S.
military has indeed been busy: "Between 2015 and 2017, the U.S.
military was active in 76 countries, including seven countries on the
receiving end of air/drone strikes, 15 countries with `boots on the
ground,' 44 overseas military bases and 56 countries receiving
The carbon footprint of the U.S. military
Belcher, Neimark, Biggerand Kennelly determined that "the U.S. military
consumes more liquid fuels and emits more carbon-dioxide equivalents
than many medium-sized countries." The military's 2014 greenhouse gas
emissions, just from its use of fuel, was roughly equal "to total --
not just fuel -- emissions from Romania." That year, the U.S. military,
if considered a country, and again just from its fuel use, would rank
as the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and not far behind a
host of other countries.
The military's ranking would be much higher if its other emissions were
included, such as from the electricity and food the military consumes.
And of course, none of this includes the emissions from the many
corporations engaged in producing weapons for the military.
One reason that the U.S. military is such a large greenhouse gas
emitter is that most of its purchased fuel is jet fuel for use by the
Air Force or Navy. Their planes burn fuel at extremely high altitudes,
which "produces different kinds of chemical reactions, resulting in
warming two to four times greater than on the ground."
The military's response to climate change
The military is well aware of the dangers of climate change -- in
contrast to many of our leading politicians. One reason is that it
threatens its operational readiness. As Crawford explains:
"In early 2018, the DOD reported that about half of their installations
had already experienced climate-change-related effects. A year later,
the DOD reported that the U.S. military is already experiencing the
effects of global warming at dozens of installations. These include
recurrent flooding (53 installations), drought (43 installations),
wildfires (36 installations) and desertification (six installations)."
But most importantly, the military sees climate change as a threat to
national security. For years, the military has considered the impact of
climate change in its defense planning because, as the Office of the
Director of National Intelligence puts it, "global environmental and
ecological degradation, as well as climate change, are likely to fuel
competition for resources, economic distress and social discontent
through 2019 and beyond." Of course, in planning responses to possible
climate-generated threats to U.S. interests, the military remains
committed to strengthening its capacity for action, even though doing
so adds to the likelihood of greater climate chaos.
People are right to demand that governments take meaningful and
immediate steps to stop global warming. And those steps need to include
significant reductions in military spending as well as overseas bases
and interventions. Since the military is the single largest producer of
greenhouse gases in the world, the fight to rein in militarism in this
country is especially important. As an added benefit, the money freed
could be put to good use helping to finance the broader systemwide
transformation required to create an ecologically responsive economy.
Martin Hart-Landsberg is a professor emeritus of economics at Lewis &
Clark College. Street Smart Economics is a periodic series written for
Street Roots by professors emeriti in economics.
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