War is harmful for the environment and all those who rely on it (generation after generation in many cases).
This is an issue that crossed my mind when I was writing about the Afghanistan War becoming the longest war in US history. I decided at the time not to delve into that huge matter, but I recently stumbled across an UTNE Reader article on just this topic that I thought I’d share.
Rather than rewrite what was already beautifully written, here is the beginning of UTNE Reader’s article:
If history is any guide, when U.S. troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan, they won’t take stock of their environmental boot print. They won’t clean up the damage done by chemical weapons and depleted uranium, worry over the water rendered undrinkable by war-damaged infrastructure, or do anything to improve air quality, which has been compromised by fires, high-powered vehicles, and weapons. In the United States, the public will also turn a blind eye to reports of cancer and birth defects.
According to a piece by Clay Risen in the Washington Monthly (Jan.-Feb. 2010), environmental negligence is a commonplace by-product of conflict. And while international law is astonishingly weak on the subject, letting governments off the hook “for militarily necessary activity”—which is not strictly defined—Risen argues that countries’ refusal to address environmental and public health problems is largely due to bureaucratic stinginess. “Remediation and health care for victims are incredibly expensive,” he writes, “and no country wants to set a precedent that would force [it] to spend billions cleaning up [its] own mess.”
It is a sad story. After dumping tons and tons of toxins on a foreign country’s land and people, we often pay no notice to our responsibility to clean it up. And who cares if it is cleaned up? Out of sight, out of mind….
War is a horrible thing, and it doesn’t stop at the fact that it is all about taking the lives of others (who, if you knew in other circumstances, you might be best friends with).
Until there is no war in the world, how can humanity truly be proud of its achievements?
Photo Credit: US Army Korea – IMCOM via flickr