War impact on environment

War impact on environmentProduction and Testing of Nuclear Weapons The development during World War II of vast military industries capable of producing nuclear weapons has had a tremendously negative impact on local, regional, and global environments(1) (See the preceding chapter for a more complete discussion of the environmental and health effects of nuclear weapons production and testing.) (2)In addition to the nuclear weapons complex, there are thousands of military bases and installations throughout the United States, which include more than two-thirds of the sites classified by the U .S. Envi- War 125 ron mental Protection Agency as highly toxic and dangerous .(3) Technologies for mitigating the dangers of the toxic chemical contamination created by these military sites are not well developed; the environmental (as well as social) costs of continuing to live with these toxicities and/ or trying to contain them will undoubtedly be very high. Aerial Bombardment Bombardment of the human environment displaces the survivors, resulting in clusters of refugee populations in situations conducive to the spread of disease, to malnutrition and starvation, and to marked psychological stress. In World War II, air power became for the first time a major detennining technology of military campaigns. During the 6 years of the war, the combatants expended approximately 6 – 9 million tons of air munitions on targets defined in broad tern is of military use fullness. (4) These harbors, ports, overland rail and road routes, and industrial sites were also located near or within areas of dense human habitation. Hundreds of thousands of people died as a direct effect of these bombings. The indirect consequences brought on by the destruction of these human environments were also devastating: It is estimated that by the end of World War II approximately 40 – – 50 million people in Europe alone were considered refuge as – victims of a war so sweeping that it left people not only without homes but without countries (5) The cumulative impact of this vast social dislocation on the subsequent course of vorld history has not been described. During the years of active U. S. Engagement in Southeast Asia, it is estimated that massive U. S. bombardment of Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia forced approximately 17 million people to become refuge es. (6) Thirty years later, with far more precision and efficiency, the Allied forces in the Gulf War relied on highly accurate and powerful aerial bombardment to destroy the urban human environment in Baghdad and several other major Iraqi cities. (7)In a matter of weeks, water works, transportation systems, communications networks, and electrical power grids were selectively demolished. In a relatively urbanized country such as Iraq, this targeted destruction trapped the majority of the civilian population in a downward spiral of confusion, helplessness, hunger, and disease. (8) Iraqi military casualties have been estimated at 100,000 dead and 300,000 wounded. According to a controversial u .s. Census Bureau analysis, Iraqi deaths arising from the direct and indirect effects of the ruin of the major cities may have totaled 100,000.(9)International Law of War and the Environment4 G-42 the intense concern about the environmental effects of the Gulf War has been conducive to proposals to strengthen international law with regard to protection of the environment during time of war. International law has attempted to limit the use of weapons that carry high risk of damaging the environment and to prohibit the direct manipulation and destruction of the environment as an act of war. Of particular relevance to these efforts are the several existing treaties and arms control agreements that forbid the specific use of certain classes of weapons or certain methodologies: the 1925 Geneva Protocol on Chemical Weapons, the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention , the 1977 Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, the 1977 Convention on the Production of Military or any other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Technologies (the “En-Mod Convention “), and the 1981 Convention on Excessively Injurious Conventional WeaponsAlthough these agreements mark important advances in the international rules of war as applied to the environment, they contain many loopholes and inadequacies. The challenge to the international community is to act, in the present favorable climate, to rectify some of the recognized insufficiencies in the current status of the law, and, in so doing, to introduce some new strictures. Experts in the field of arms control in relation to the environment.Conclusion although societies have waged war for millennia, the effects of this enterprise on the environment and the pervasive consequences for human health have received relatively little sustained scientific attention. The surge .in interest after the Gulf War may reflect the recent overall expansion of public awareness that the world’s ecosystems are fragile, even in times of peace, and that the fate of human beings is inextricably bound to the fate of the earth. Such recognition has arrived late, only as the environmental and social consequences of world population growth and industrial activity have become too bleak to ignore. To limit the environmental effects of war requires action at the international level. The actions to take must spring from the tension that pervades all international law with regard to war: bind all parties to agreements that severely limit damage to the environment in the event of war, and create norms, procedures, and alternatives that continue to constrain the use of war as an option . Because the means of waging war are increasingly outstripping the means of controlling its effects once launched, the task for the United Nations in the 21st century is not only to strengthen the laws regulating outright military action but also to make possible and powerful all means to settle conflict short of war. (10)

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