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The military – an environmental pollution

Military activity threatens to end our entire existence.


The military system is low energy-efficient, polluting and carbon-intensive, and security policy is the black hole of democracy. Although the Defense Research Institute is now presenting the sector's environmental and climate accounts annually and there are certain improvements to be tracked, the dates are still not satisfactory. Neither foreign military activity in Norway nor Norwegian climate and environmental imprints are included in the accounts.

Oil for F-35. Recently, the Norwegian Defense Long-Term Plan and the so-called Car Package dominated the Norwegian political debate without making any effort to see the two in context. It was debated whether the Norwegian defense should primarily be land-based or even more closely tied to NATO's foreign-country strategy. Various proposals have been discussed to reduce CO2 emissions by driving an electric car, reducing the number of flights and eating less meat. No one mentioned that an F-16 aircraft consumes as much fuel in one hour as an average American driver in three years, or that the Defense in 2015 consumed over 85 million liters of fuel. Nobody asked if oil drilling, also in Lofoten, Vesterålen and Senja, is first and foremost important in obtaining fuel for the 52 new F-35 aircraft.

Huge buzz. The world spends about $ 1,7 trillion for military purposes each year – the equivalent of 615 regular UN budgets. 10 percent of these funds are needed to realize the two major decisions made at the UN in 2015: the Action Plan for Development (2016-2030) with its 17 Sustainability Goals, and the Paris Agreement on Climate. The $ 100 billion a year that the Green Climate Fund calls for is less than one percent of the military budget.

The environmental costs of the military industry are extremely poorly documented. We need a complete overview of mineral, energy and other resource use for the production, testing, storage and transport of weapons and ammunition. The military industry and those who profit from weapons production and arms sales, legally and illegally, at both ends of the process, obviously do not want any insight and interference with their lucrative business.

A broken earth. Military activities have an impact on the environment directly and indirectly, in the short and long term, in peacetime and not least in war. Water shortages and contamination of groundwater and water sources are dramatic for life and strongly conflicting. Air pollution, also from fluorinated gases used in an increasing number of radar installations, as well as extensive militarization of outer space, can be fatal. Mother Earth is rendered infertile and toxic, and biodiversity is reduced through "asphaltification" and construction of bases, military facilities, firing and training fields, weapons and ammunition production, test areas, landmines laying, cluster bombs and other explosives, chemical use and displacement. folk. Both the civilian and military nuclear industry's destruction of the ecosystem is potentially enormous. In large explosions, you risk a nuclear winter where the nuclear clouds block the sunshine and leave the earth desolate.

Security policy is the black hole of democracy.

You harm now. Working life can be divided into three different categories: useful jobs, stupid jobs and dangerous jobs. The military industry is clearly in the final category through the resources consumed and the products being made. One goal must be to reduce both useless and hazardous production and consumption. No one needs to be afraid of being unemployed even if the military industry is reshaped. An average job in the military industry is 2-3 times more expensive than in civilian. Moreover, for decades to come, smart heads are needed to get rid of existing weapons and clean up toxic and dangerous military waste. The brain capacity that is currently tied up in the military industry can be used to solve civilian tasks, not least to develop the alternative sources of energy needed to ensure our own survival. Isn't it time for our scientists to take oaths like doctors do in their hippocratic promise, You harm now?

There are no jobs on a deserted planet.

Radically new. The head of the International Trade Union Movement (ITUC) in Europe said it so simply: "There are no jobs on a deserted planet. ”

Norway has traditionally understood that our security depends on our being regarded as a peaceful and friendly country and part of a strong UN. Norway was a pioneer in the development of the concept human security (Lysøen Declaration of 1998), whose greatest threat is the destruction of the physical environment. The researchers are discussing where the tipping point is, or the point of no return.

Nevertheless, we are part of a crazy spiral of armament, geared up by a rising level of tension and NATO's injunction to increase military budgets. But war is unacceptable as a problem and conflict solver. War is death, destruction, misery and escape. Instead, we must think radically new.

How do we want to use the world's resources? What kind of Norway and what kind of world do we want to be a part of? This is the urgency of finding the answer.

also read We have to talk about the arming.

Ingeborg Breines
Ingeborg Breines
Breines is an adviser, former President of the International PEACE Bureau and former UNESCO Director.

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