"War is obsolete. The only reliable resource for security in the world today is relationship. Now, from the perspective of the climate, we see another reason to knock it off with the institution of war."

"There are no electric tanks or aircraft, or even jeeps. Warfare is a terrible polluter of earth's atmosphere."

~ John Burch

Arctic Climate War. As the earth heats up, war will break out over limited resources.

The impact of military activities and consequent warfare on global carbon emissions is staggering. A 2019 study by the Costs of War project from Brown University estimated that the US military alone has emitted 1,212 million metric tons of greenhouse gases between 2001 and 2017. This figure equates the combined energy-related annual carbon dioxide emissions of Japan and South Korea.

More specifically, in the Iraq War's peak year of 2003, the American military emitted more than 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent – exceeding that of 60% of all nations. From 2001 to 2010, US military fuel usage dropped from 145 to 124 million barrels, yet war operations resulted in higher emissions due to high-intensity fuel use settings and pre-positioned equipment. This period of Afghani and Iraqi wars is likened to a "wartime surge" in emissions.

Moreover, in a single year of peacetime activities, the US Department of Defense's greenhouse gas emissions were estimated to be more than 25,000 kilotons, almost equal to that of entire countries like Portugal or Sweden.

On the other hand, a recent paper in the journal "Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers" affirms that between 2001 and 2017, the British military’s activities and procurement processes overseas caused the emission of 11,700 kilotons of carbon dioxide equivalent, surpassing total emissions of industrialized countries like Jamaica or Lebanon.

During the Gulf War, the torching of Kuwaiti oil wells by Iraq resulted in the release of an estimated 500 million tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the yearly emission of 18 industrialized nations combined as per 'The Environmental Consequences of War: Legal, Economic, and Scientific Perspectives'.

It is thus abundantly clear that military activities during peacetime and during a war account for a critical sector of global carbon emissions. The environmental impact of modern warfare is not just localised destruction, but includes a substantial increase in greenhouse gas emissions that significantly contribute to global warming. This further highlights the urgent need to recognize and address the obsolescence of war in securing a sustainable future.

The Obsolescence of War: In the Name of Global Climate Rescue

In the complex matrix of world history, war has always functioned as a grim method of dispute resolution. For centuries, humanity has engaged in brutal combat in the pursuit of land, resources, and power. However, in the contemporary spectrum of global concord, war is not just an appalling practice, but also a method fast approaching obsolescence. More so, in an era where the planet’s well-being is intricately tied with human survival, the destructiveness of war extends beyond immediate human casualty to considerable long-term ecological damage. This essay elucidates the reasons why war has become an antiquated institution, focusing on one not adequately explored aspect; its detrimental impact on the environment contributing to global warming.

War and its consequences have evolved monumentally over time. In ancient battlefields, the clash of swords and the roar of cannons represented the epitome of destruction. However, the twenty-first century, characterized by highly advanced technology, artificial intelligence, and weapons of mass destruction, portrays a far graver image of warfare. The physical destruction left in the wake of modern warfare is not the only cost; the environment bears the brunt of human conflict. The extensive carbon emissions during combat operations herald an era of 'carbon-intensive' warfare.

To quantify, consider the United States' military operations in the Middle East since 2001, which generated an estimated 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, equivalent to the annual carbon emissions of 257 million cars. The US Department of Defense, if seen as a nation, is the world's 55th largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. Meanwhile, the US military machine instigates severe ecological disruption throughout the world, from the displacement of communities to the extinction of wildlife.

Therefore, war, as an institution, not only sabotages the social fabric but also contributes massively toward global carbon emissions leading to an acceleration of global warming and climate change. An often-overlooked aspect is the militarization of the high seas, with naval fleets using low-grade, cheap bunker fuel responsible for high levels of sulphur dioxide pollution, contributing to acid rain and respiratory disease.

Contemporary warfare also causes ecological damage indirectly. As an example, in 1991, during the Persian Gulf War, Iraqi forces ignited 700 oil wells, thereby catalyzing a massive surge in greenhouse gas emissions. The incidental fallout from combat, such as spatial dislocation of communities, destruction of infrastructure, and the repurposing of agricultural land for military use, further accentuates the environmental impact.

Finding resolutions to disputes through sanctions of war is an outdated and myopic approach. While the immediate toll is human lives and disrupted communities, the enduring impact is global climate damage, further destabilizing world order in the long run.

In the epoch of globalization and transnational threats such as pandemics and climate change, the obsolescence of war becomes more pronounced. Approaches towards global peace and security need to emphasize diplomatic engagement and global cooperation more than any time in human history. Simultaneously, the world must recognize the fundamental importance of environmental defense in international security.

For instance, the International Peace Bureau launched the 'Disarmament for Sustainable Development' program to promote the reallocation of military expenditure towards mitigation of climate change and global poverty. The Green New Deal by progressive politicians in the United States advocates for decarbonization, including that of their military machine.

However, these initiatives can only succeed in adopting a macro vision that perceives climate change, security, and peace as interlocking features of the global system. Global leaders must perceive war not as a violent means to an end but as an aging institution whose side effects of environmental damage exacerbate the very issues it seeks to resolve.

In conclusion, the obsolescence of war emerges not just as an echo of pacifist philosophy but as an urgent call for global climate responsibility. In this defining era of human civilization, where every initiative to counter global warming holds significance, discontinuing the antiquated practices of wage wars becomes elementary.

The world needs to transition towards peaceful resolutions, sophisticated diplomatic solutions, and international collaborations over individual state pursuits. By doing so, the international community ensures the twin benefits of sustained peace and slowing down of, if not halting, the man-made influences expediting global climate change. In recognizing the obsolescence of war lies the realization for a more sustainable and peaceful world order for generations to come.

The obsolescence of war is, therefore, not merely about swords transforming into ploughshares, but also about curbing the devastating environmental consequences of conflict. War is not simply unnecessary in modern times; it is largely unsustainable and an unacceptable risk to our planet’s climate. It's time we leave this obsolete institution behind for the sake of our future and the well-being of this planet that we call home.

One Earth One Chance

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