US Army and Sustainability | Open


Thought experiment: China contaminates groundwater in parts of Oahu, Hawaii’s most populous and popular island.

Should we publish a statement of concern? Should we impose trade sanctions? Should we bomb some Chinese military bases? Should we just declare war on China?

Regardless of the appropriate response in our thought experiment, now consider the actual perpetrator to be the US military. Indeed, the US Army accuses the US Navy of contaminating the water of many of its 24 military communities near Pearl Harbor. Is the US Navy attacking the US Army on Pearl Harbor? Can it get more ironic?

While news of the Navy’s glaring error has sparked outrage among citizens of Hawaii and abroad, it’s not necessarily something new. The US military is one of the biggest polluters in the world. Just a tiny fraction of what we’re learning now:

• Service members, their families and surrounding civilian residents of Marietta Air Force Base Georgia Dobbins learn that their drinking water is contaminated with some of the “eternal chemicals” used on the base and that the first time many have heard of them to speak was when local Fox News reporters came to see them for comment. These chemicals are known carcinogens and cause thyroid disease and – one of the worst news from the pandemic – weakened immune systems in children.

• The Pentagon is the largest consumer of oil in the world and therefore one of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases and therefore the only entity most responsible for climate chaos: massive hurricanes, forest fires, floods, rising sea levels. waters, climate refugees and more.

Jet fuel leaks aside and being one of the largest consumers of oil in the world, numerous nuclear weapons tests have led to the desolation and abandonment of Pacific Islands and regions of Native American lands. These actions have made some of these areas unlivable to this day.

The US military spends more than any other military. The international position in which the United States is generally viewed is one where it is seen as the strongest and most powerful, commanding respect from allies and instilling fear in adversaries. As a result, they have also been excused for most of their misadventures and neglect by the international community and historically by our own EPA.

Unless we act and hold the military accountable for their extreme neglect and disorderly use of equipment and chemicals that has persisted for decades, incidents like the one in Hawaii will continue to occur. Possible reforms may include:

• Ensure that the army’s budget is reduced or at the very least reallocated to bioremediation, pollution prevention and military procurement of clean energy and manufactured items.

• Hold the military accountable for every environmental impact it produces anywhere, including basic transparency so that military personnel, their families and all civilians understand threats to their health and can make informed decisions.

All these incidents are done with your earned money, your income taxes. All of these decisions are made on your behalf in our democracy.

All of these acts are either accidental or deliberate, of course. Accidents should be teachable events so that better preventive protections are instituted. Deliberate decisions to pollute because it is easier should be outlawed and have serious consequences.

Otherwise, it is our own “protectors” who are harming us. This is wrong on every level and can only be corrected by all of us deciding to elect lawmakers who will take it as seriously as it deserves.

Sebastian Santos, syndicated by PeaceVoice, graduated from Portland State University and is currently pursuing a master’s degree at Lewis and Clark College.


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