Climate Crisis and the military

 Militarism Climate

Seven people including veterans and their supporters were arrested this morning while staging a sit-in on the street in front of the U.S. Capitol when calling for action on the military’s massive contribution to climate change. Veterans For Peace (VFP), the organization that sponsored the action, made known their demands to bring about a reduction in the environmental damage done by militarism across the globe. In the usual pro forma manner, those arrested were driven a few blocks, booked and released after paying bail and later possibly required to attend court to determine their final disposition.

The group is calling for a reduction of $200 billion annually in the Pentagon’s budget, an end to both U.S.-driven wars and international weapons sales fueling conflicts around the world and establishing diplomacy over conflict to settle disputes. “Fuck War” was chanted loudly along with mantras against Raytheon, a defense contractor profiting from arms sales and helping to fuel the ongoing cycle of death and the attendant negative effects on climate change generated by weapons production.

The Pentagon is the world’s largest institutional consumer of petroleum and to put that into perspective, The Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) estimates that one B-52 Stratofortress bomber with its massive eight jet engines in one hour of flight time consumes enough fuel to power an average car for seven years. Clearly when one adds up all the fuel consumed in a year by the U.S. military, their carbon footprint overwhelms that of any other institution by an order of magnitude never before seen in the world. According to the VFP press release “DoD is estimated to emit more CO2 than over 120 separate countries.”

The group is also demanding that the Pentagon make a full accounting of their fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions for 2021 as required by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which they have yet to comply with.

As an institutional serial polluter, the military is also complicit in other dirty environmental undertakings as seen earlier this week when veterans protested the Senate’s inaction in initially not passing the PACT Act. The Act would allow funding for veterans whose health has been affected by burn pit pollution, poisoned drinking water on military bases, along with Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.

A vigil by veterans led by Jon Stewart for several days on the steps of the Senate side of the Capitol shamed the 25 holdout senators into finally passing the legislation yesterday after which Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell now famously claimed that “These things happen all the time with the legislative process,” when explaining the GOP turnaround that originally nixed the bill’s passage, a feeble excuse on his part to try and spin a legislative loss by appearing to be both “veteran friendly” while hiding behind the institutional process.

Report and photo by Phil Pasquini

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