As Middle East War Expands, So Does Cost To Environment

Somchai Kongkamsri Pexels

The Israel-Hamas War started on October 7th, followed by Houthi rebels firing on ships headed toward the Suez Canal in an attempt to prevent the safe passage of cargo. US and UK forces, in turn, attacked Houthi positions. Following this, three US servicemen were killed in a drone attack in Jordan, and the US hit 85 targets in Iraq and Syria.  These conflicts are likely to expand. 

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The cost of human lives, military, and infrastructure rises each day. And so does the cost to the environment. 

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Scientists for Global Responsibility recently published a research paper titled “Estimating the Military’s Global Greenhouse Gas Emissions,” The authors put this figure at 5.5% of the global total. “If the world’s militaries were a country, this figure would mean they have the fourth largest national carbon footprint in the world –greater than that of Russia.” Emissions from China, India, and the US were the only nations with higher totals. The report cited Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as another reason this 5.5% emission number could continue to grow. The authors added that national policies about using military assets and the huge supply chains required for their support would need to be reduced or damage to the climate will increase..

A month ago, SSRN published a report titled “A Multitemporal Snapshot of Greenhouse Gas Emissions from the Israel-Gaza Conflict.” Its primary conclusion was, “The projected emissions from the first 60 days of the Israel-Gaza war were greater than the annual emissions of 20 individual countries and territories.” And the situation will get worse. Additionally, rebuilding Gaza will produce annual emissions approximately the same as New Zealand’s yearly emission number. 

The odds of growing military conflict increase daily, particularly in the Middle East. Israel has provided no evidence that it will decrease its military activity in Gaza. Attacks on US military personnel remain constant, as do attacks from Houthi militia. A byproduct of these Houthi attacks is that tankers and container ships must change course away from the Suez Canal. Each ship must travel an additional 3,500 miles around the Cape of Good Hope which adds two weeks to its journey. S&P estimates that the added fuel costs for this rerouting can cost $300,000 per ship. 

Will global military activity slow because of its contribution to climate change? There is no reason to think so.

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