The environmental damage caused by the war in the Middle East – by the armed forces of so-called civilised nations

Amiel Blajchman is the Project Manager at Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, the founder of Globalis Group which works to create a sustainable world and a freelance environmental journalist. 

In 2009 he reviewed a report on the environmental cost of war in the Middle East by Mumbai’s Strategic Foresight Group, which highlighted the environmental damage in the Middle East due to constant conflicts and wars throughout the region.  

The report details: 

  • Stress on water resources (the Israel-Hezbollah war caused severe damage to South Lebanese water networks)
  • Arable land degradation
  • Forest utilization and destruction
  • Oil spills (almost 55 million barrels of oil were spilt in the desert and at sea during the first gulf war)
  • Sewage dumping (since the 2003 Iraq war, over 300 000 tonnes of raw sewage are dumped into the Tigris daily)
  • Habitat loss, leading to increased stress on local species and overall biodiversity levels
  • Increased and significant carbon emissions caused by the machinery of war (as detailed in another report on Red, Green and Blue, an Abrams tank’s fuel efficiency is rated at 0.56 miles per gallon!) 

Blajchman emphasises that war costs the environment no matter where it occurs; all of these environmental costs would have some correlation with on-going conflicts such as those in Sri Lanka, South Ossetia, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo. 

Hidden environmental costs to war and conflict include environmentally beneficial projects that are prevented from moving out of the design phase due to a state of local conflict, such as environmental protection and remediation projects, water desalination activities, and development of intelligent transportation systems. 

The next post will include Nancy Youssef’s reflections and assessment of the financial cost of war in Afghanistan and Iraq, published in August 2011.

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