The Climate Crisis and Imperialism: in order to have a future, we need to end both
By Tyler Boes, KNOW outreach coordinator
Sept. 4, 2019
According to a recent BBC article, the climate crisis is worse than scientists ever could’ve imagined, and we have less than two years to take radical action before many of the effects of climate change are permanent. This means that the whole world needs to take action, and the United States of America— the wealthiest nation in the history of the world— needs to take the lead on solving this issue. Unfortunately, the US is not taking action, as President Trump doesn’t even acknowledge climate change exists. The reality is that replacing President Trump will not be near enough in solving the climate crisis, as the leading contributor for the crisis is our country’s own military, and neither major political party in America has the courage to challenge this institution.
The White House admits we are participating in seven wars around the world: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. In addition to this, the United operates more than 800 military bases around the world. The reality is that the United States is maintaining an imperialist empire. In order to maintain this empire, the Pentagon has had to use massive amounts of fossil fuels. Since the global war on terror began in 2001, the Pentagon has emitted over 1.2 billions metric tons of greenhouse gasses. They are the world’s single largest consumer of oil, and they contribute to the climate crisis more than any institution on the planet. The pentagon alone contributes more carbon into the atmosphere than the whole nations of Portugal or Sweden. On top of this, the United States spends almost $700 billion on defense each year, and that is more than the next several countries combined. This is not acceptable, as our country isn’t under any imminent military threat.
One would think the answer to this would be to end these unnecessary wars and invest money in fighting climate change, something that will literally destroy the whole planet. Instead, we continue to wage these wars and contribute more to the crisis. To make things worse, United States’ companies profit off these military actions and arms sales that destroy our environment. The United States exports more arms than the rest of the world combined, and companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon make billions in profit off excessive militarism and arms sales. Politicians are wary challenging this status quo because going against these companies that build weapons of war means costing jobs in their respective states. Not only that, politicians from both major parties receive campaign contributions from these companies. It’s no wonder why the only issue Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on is that we need to keep spending more and more on the military.
We need to acknowledge and challenge this imperialist status quo on all levels of government and society. This is not just a national government issue. All of us will be impacted by the climate crisis eventually, and we haven’t even begun the proper discussion on what we need to do to stop it. This means organizing and protesting against drilling for fossil fuels and wars, encouraging your friends not to join the military, talking about imperialism and climate change at city commission meetings, and telling your politicians that unnecessary wars are wrong and unacceptable. In order for this to end, those in power need to see that we are willing to organize and do what it takes to fight for our future. We all need to do our part to stand up to the powerful that have allowed us to get to this point, and we are running out of time.