“The Green Zone: the environmental costs of militarism” review

“The Green Zone: the environmental costs of militarism” review

The Green Zone

by Barry Sanders
AK Press, 2009

Given the crisis of climate change, military carbon emissions are a matter of concern, but facts have been hard to come by. Barry Sanders, basing his research on the American military machine, illustrates what an enormous environmental threat all military activity poses.

He gives numerous examples of the pollutants and toxic substances released by the military, from depleted uranium to CFCs (we may have banned chlorofluorocarbons, but the military still use them). There is leaked perchlorate, used in the manufacture of solid rocket fuel, contaminating much of the US food and water supply. The clean-up programme includes 28,000 sites in the US alone. Then there’s the oil.

At supersonic speed, the F-15 plane uses 4 gallons of jet fuel per second. The B-52 Stratocruiser uses 3,334 gallons per hour. The B-52H Bomber can carry 47,975 gallons of fuel but still requires mid-air refuelling, and the US Air Force owns 94 of these greedy beasts. Now add in all the petrol used by military vehicles. And all that used by contractors and ancillary civilians.

Bit by bit, Sanders adds the figures together and the totals are startling. In places he uses estimates, and he is clear when he does so. But he must be getting something right, judging by the slating of his work by pro-military people in the States. And even if his figures were only half as bad as he concludes, the result is obvious – the earth and all the life on it simply cannot afford the military any more.