Aditya Vaibhav | The TrickyScribe: With armed forces comprising of more than two million people, 11 nuclear aircraft carriers and the most advanced military aircraft, the US is more than capable of projecting power anywhere in the globe. In its quest for adding to the bulwark of its military might, the United States spends more on the military than any other country in the world; more than the combined military expenses of Russia and China.
SWANKY DEFENSE BUDGET
The US has been continuously at war since late 2001, with the US military and State Department currently engaged in more than 80 countries in counterterror operations. Authorized at more than $700 billion in FY19, and again over $700 billion requested for FY20, the Department of Defense (DOD) budget comprises more than half of all federal discretionary spending each year.
ENERGY: THE LIFEBLOOD OF ALL WARFIGHTING CAPABILITIES
The capacity for and use of military force requires a great deal of energy, most of it fossil fuels. As General David Petraeus famously said, “energy is the lifeblood of our warfighting capabilities.” Although the Pentagon has increasingly emphasized what it calls energy security — energy resilience and conservation — it is still a major consumer of energy from fossil fuel.
The emission of CO2 into the air due to the burning of fossil fuels is one of the main causes of global warming. The concentration of CO2 in the global atmosphere remained relatively stable until the industrial revolution at around 200 particles per million. From the 19th century onwards, its density multiplied rapidly, reaching 413 particles per million most recently.
Unlike some other elements of the present US administration that suffer from various modes of climate denial, the US military and intelligence community act as if the negative security consequences of a warming planet are inevitable. The DOD is believed to have studied the issue for decades and begun adapting its plans, operations and installations to deal with climate change.
WORLD’S LARGEST INSTITUTIONAL USER OF PETROLEUM
The DOD is the world’s largest institutional user of petroleum and correspondingly, the single largest producer of greenhouse gases (GHG) in the world. The DOD emissions for all military operations from 2001 to 2017 are estimated to be about 766 million metric tons of CO2 equivalents.
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Of these military operations, war-related emissions including for the “overseas contingency operations” in the major war zones of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria are close to 400 Million Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent. War and preparation for it are highly fossil fuel intensive and along with being the single largest energy consumer in the US, the DOD is also the world’s single largest institutional petroleum consumer. When it comes to how that energy is consumed, 70 percent is used by moving and burning jet fuel and diesel.
It doesn’t help that military equipment is not known for being fuel efficient and it’s thought that the 60,000 humvees remaining in the US inventory only manage four to eight miles per gallon of diesel. Military real estate also has serious energy requirements and in FY17, the DOD spent $3.5 billion heating, cooling and providing power for 5.6 lakh buildings at 500 different military installations.
MORE AMERICAN TROOPS TO POLAND
Addressing a press conference with Polish President Andrzej Duda, President Trump committed 1,000 more American troops for being deployed to Poland. Even though the soldiers and hardware are only going to make the short hop across the border from the 52,000-strong US presence in Germany, major American military deployments generally require tremendous amounts of energy and leave a large carbon footprint.
MASSIVE CARBON FOOTPRINT
A Brown University report has now estimated that since the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, total greenhouse gas emissions from the US military have amounted to 1,212 million metric tons. In 2017, the amount of CO2 generated came to 59 million tons, a figure that’s higher than many industrialized nations.
Sweden only generated 48 million tons by comparison in 2017, according to BP’s Statistical Review of World Energy which records carbon dioxide emissions in different countries. The US military also has a larger annual carbon footprint than Morocco, Peru, Hungary, Finland, New Zealand and Norway. The research states that if the Pentagon was a nation, it would be the world’s 55th largest CO2 emitter.