Thursday, November 26, 2015

Oil barrels and gun barrels

From November 30 to December 11, delegates from more than 190 nations will convene in Paris to address the threat of climate change. The 21st Conference of the Parties (aka COP21) is expected to draw 25,000 official delegates intent on crafting a legally binding pact to keep global warming below 2°C.

The American military occupies 6,000 bases in the US and more than 1,000 bases (the exact number is disputed) in 60-plus foreign countries. According to its FY 2010 Base Structure Report, the Pentagon's global empire includes more than 539,000 facilities at 5,000 sites covering more than 28 million acres.

The Pentagon admits to burning 350,000 barrels of oil a day (only 35 countries in the world consume more) but that doesn't include oil burned by contractors and weapons suppliers. The military fuel is required for more than 28,000 armored vehicles, thousands of helicopters, hundreds of jet fighters and bombers and vast fleets of Navy vessels. The Air Force accounts for about half of the Pentagon’s operational energy consumption, followed by the Navy (33%) and Army (15%). In 2012, oil accounted for nearly 80% of the Pentagon's energy consumption, followed by electricity, natural gas and coal. Today, the Pentagon consumes one percent of all the country's oil and around 80 percent of all the oil burned by federal government.

Ironically, most of the military's oil is consumed in operations directed at protecting America's access to foreign oil and maritime shipping lanes. In short, the consumption of oil relies on consuming more oil. Oil Change International estimates the Pentagon's 2003-2007 $2 trillion Iraq War generated more than three million metric tons of CO2 pollution per month.

Despite being the planet's single greatest institutional consumer of fossil fuels, the Department of Defense was granted exemption from reducing—or even reporting—its pollution. The US won this prize during the 1998 Kyoto Protocol negotiations (COP4) after the Pentagon insisted on a "national security provision" that would place its operations beyond global scrutiny or control.  Also exempted from pollution regulation: all American weapons testing, military exercises, NATO operations and "peacekeeping" missions.

With socialism we hope to stabilise our climate and by ending war and all those preparations for war socialism will  offer the start of a rational resolution of our environmental problems.

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