Costs of War


Beth Guse

Part of Iraq & Our Energy Future, by students of
Geography 378 (International Environmental Problems & Policy)
at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, USA, Spring 2003.


    Cost of War to the Environment

    The wars in Iraq have caused massive and possibly irreversible damage to the Persian Gulf region and have added to global warming, according to Eric Pianin of the Washington Post. Pianin also wrote that the environmental leaders have said the ensuing damage to Iraq's ecosystem and food and water supplies may eclipse the destruction during the 1991 Gulf War.

    The first Gulf War has done considerable damage the ecosystem already. The list of species killed in the current Iraq War is not yet determined but there is a list of the species killed in the first Gulf War or by oil (according to

    The pollution caused during the first Gulf War still lingers in Iraq; no matter how precise the United States bombing is it will inevitably add to the pollution. This pollution and Saddam's oil fires add to the global warming. Some of the damage that occurred during the first Gulf War included over 600 oil wells were set by Iraq causing a smoke blanket that blocked the sun. Huge oil spills occurred; some of that oil eventually percolated down to the aquifers. "The first Gulf War was the biggest environmental disaster in recent history," said Gar Smith, former editor of Earth Island Journal and a spokesman for Environmentalists Against the War. "Unfortunately, with advances in military technology, a new Gulf War has the potential to be even worse." The outcome is yet unknown of the complete environmental damage that this war will cause on not only Iraq but the entire world.

    Problems that are occurring during this war are water shortages; water is either to polluted to drink or not there. Fresh water has been shipped in but even with efforts of the British and U.S. troops, the people are not getting the supplies.

    Environmental Spending vs. Military Spending
    The proposed 2004 budget has drastically cut environmental spending. It has made cuts to the clean water and drinking water. "It slashes funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by nearly 40 percent from enacted FY2002 levels. EPA itself has admitted that capital needs for clean water infrastructure through 2019 could reach $450 billion."
    President Bush has been promoting the hydrogen car, which is progress in helping the environment but the results are slow to show, and there are other energy sources that could be funded and explored to show faster results.

    Though President Bush has proposed spending cuts to the environment other areas are gaining a chance at an increase in finances. According to Governor Christine Todd Whitman, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Bush has
    "included in his proposal is $7.6 billion to support the mission and work of the Environmental Protection Agency and its partners across the country, which is $10 million above last years request." . Even though Bush's fiscal year 2004 budget has said it has increases spending for the EPA it still is lacking in many areas such as a cut of $20 million dollars in energy conservation programs

    Country Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, N. Korea
    China Italy Saudi Arabia Germany France Britain Japan    
    Military Spending (billions of dollars) 12.7 13 16 18 25 330 35 41    
    Country Russia United States

    Military Spending (billions of dollars)

    55 311
    The chart above gives tells how much the U.S. and other countries spend on the military. The U.S. has far exceeded any other country in the world.

    There is a Military Spending Clock that keeps a running total of how much money the U.S. has spent on the war so far. The money the U.S. spends on war is such a high number it is hard to understand. It may be easier to understand when it is compared to something as how many people it could feed for a year. For more examples: What a War Can Buy?


    Weakening Environmental Laws for National Security
    During times of war the United States government tends to put environmental problems on the back burner. In previous years it may have been hard to draw a link between National Security and the environment but they have growingly become tied in more recent times.
    The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, in Alaska, has been the center of a hot debate for the past years on whether or not to drill there for the oil. The amount of oil that is within that area is unknown. The U.S. House of Representatives passed an energy bill recently that delivers far more to the oil and nuclear industries than it will ever deliver to American consumers. This energy bill includes opening the pristine Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil drilling, which the U.S. Senate voted against. The issue has gone into a joint committee.
    According to Dr. Richard Haeuber, who is part of the Sustainable Biosphere Initiative, "national security is useless unless livable conditions exist" in the nation. Dependency on other nations poses a threat to the U.S. during times of war because of the U.S. addiction to oil. To ensure that oil will still flow through the U.S. the government has come up with the self-dependency solution, using our oil. The amount of oil that is in the Arctic National Wildlife region is unknown and for how long it will last is unknown.



    List of species killed in first Gulf War:
    Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Greater Flamingo Nightjar, Redstart, Grey Heron, Teal Shoveler, Sparrowhawk, Steppe Eagle, Wood Sandpiper, Terek Sandpiper, Sandgrouse, Blue-cheeked Bee-eater, Swallow, Sand Martin, Black-necked Grebe , Red-necked Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Great Cormorant , Socotra Cormorant, Lesser Sand Plover, Little Ringed, Plover Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Broad-billed Sandpiper, Bar-tailed, Godwit, Curlew, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Swift Tern, Bridled, Tern, Lesser Crested Tern, White-cheeked Tern. Talkwildlife