Climate Change and the Pentagon

For those of you who don’t believe that climate change and global warming are real…or don’t believe they are caused by human activity…I suggest you save your time and ignore this column and go back to the sports page. For those of you who believe the 98 percent of climate scientists, who say that climate change is real and caused by human activity…. read on.

The biggest user of fossil fuels in the world by far is the U.S. military. Oil is the lifeblood of our Army, Navy and Air Force. Much of our reason for trying to control the Middle East is our historic quest to assure the oil we need. I have a large sign on my bicycle that attracts a good deal of attention. It says “BICYLING…a silent statement against oil wars.” Almost everyone now realizes that our attack of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction or terrorists. We simply wanted to control its oil. (Another sign of the times reads “What is our oil doing beneath their sand?”)

I have read that we have spent $8 trillion keeping the oil routes in the Persian Gulf area open since World War II. This seems a bit high, but no one would argue that it hasn’t been a lot.

In 1940, the military consumed about 1 percent of the nation’s oil supply. By the end of World War II, that percentage had gone up to 29 percent. At the onset of the Iraq war in 2003, the army estimated that it would need more than 40 million gallons of gasoline for three weeks of combat it would take to finish that war, exceeding the total quantity used by all of the Allied Forces in the four years of World War II. The Iraq War actually used more petrol each year of the war than 139 of the world’s countries use yearly.

As an example of why the military uses so much fuel, the F-4 fighter jet consumes more than 1,600 gallons per hour and peaks at 14,400 gallons per hour at supersonic speeds. Keep in mind that jet fuel produces up to three times as much carbon dioxide per gallon as gasoline. Furthermore, jet exhaust is loaded with soot, sulfur dioxide, nitrous oxide and water vapor, all of which contribute to global warming. Some scientists are convinced that soot is perhaps more to blame for melting glaciers than global warming. Those trillions of little black specks attract and hold the heat from the sun’s rays, instead of reflecting it as clean ice does.

The Army, of course, is much more fuel efficient. An Abrams tank is rated at .2 miles to the gallon of diesel…that is five gallons to the mile. You think your SUV is a gas hog!

So, what can we do about this? Our president, Donald Trump, wants to increase the military budget by $54 billion. How many more war planes, tanks and battleships will that buy? And once we have them, will they just sit there in a parking spot? Maybe someone should let him know that we already spend as much on our military as the next seven nations combined.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not planning on sitting quietly by while Trump cuts the EPA by 31 percent, the State Department by 29 percent, arts and humanities by 100 percent, along with huge cuts to food stamps, Meals on Wheels, public television and national parks, while saying we need to spend more on warfare. Join me in making your voice heard.

This article first appeared in the April 5, 2017 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at Doctoroutdoors@

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