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US Imperial Militarism, Climate Change, and Extinction

  • The only way to save the planet: stop the military-industrial machine!
    By Maggie Zhou
    Climate SOS, Dec 6, 2010 (originally posted Nov 24, 2010)
    Straight to the Source

As it becomes increasingly clear that we're way past the point of dangerous interference with the climate system, as more and more components of the natural world that sustains our very existence collapse, revealing the breadth and depth of our destruction, as scientists openly despair at the already triggered avalanche of what they fear is the Sixth Great Extinction, the US government, at the behest of its military-industrial-banking corporate masters, is continuing its mad quest of military dominance, wars and resource grabs, all to continue a doctrine of 'economic growth/expansion', based on exploitation and the destruction of nature and its peoples.

War and military spending dominates the federal budget, drains the lifeblood of our economy, and prevents meaningful climate action.  At a time when many vital social programs are cut because of 'economic hardship', and many jobless youth are driven (and actively lured) into enlisting for the military machine, the military budget soared from $767 billion in 2009, to $837 billion for 2011, and the total spending on current and past wars (including interest on federal debt due to past military spending, and veterans programs) amounted to $1,167 billion, or 39.3% of the 2011 federal discretionary budget, according to analysis by FCNL.[1]  The budgetary and economic costs of the Iraq war is estimated by Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, with his colleague Linda Bilmes, to reach between $4 trillion and $6 trillion![10]  Michael Nasuti of Kabul Press recently calculated that each Taliban soldier killed in Afghanistan costs an average of $50 million to the US.[11]  US accounts for 48% of the world's total military spending, and exceeds more than the next 45 highest spending countries in the world combined.  Not even including spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, 87% of all US security spending goes towards military forces, while only 8% goes towards homeland security and 5% to non-military international engagement.[12]

By comparison, the $18.2 billion [2] in the 2011 federal budget for 'climate spending' (which includes large spending on false solutions like nuclear power, 'clean coal', biomass energy and biofuels, etc.) is hailed as proof of commitment to climate action by the Obama administration, while concern for 'damaging the economy' is offered as the excuse for not taking any stronger, decisive actions to avert the climate catastrophe, and for the necessity of creating risky carbon markets, and relying on various other 'market mechanisms' (such as carbon 'offsets') to supposedly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  The reality of these 'market mechanisms' is often no real carbon reductions, further ecosystem and biodiversity degradation, further landgrabs and economic disparity, while huge sums of money changes hands..[3]

In Copenhagen, US insisted on no more than a paltry and woefully insufficient $10 billion/year for 3 years, and $100 billion by 2020, from all developed countries COMBINED, as climate aid for developing countries to adapt to climate change and for their mitigation efforts.  This in spite of US being the country responsible for most of the CO2 currently in the atmosphere, while many developing countries are already suffering disproportionate consequences of climate change.  Even the promised funds consist mostly of recycled previous aid commitments, private investments (i.e., for profit!) and loans (further indebting developing countries).[14]


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