Home » Climate Change » Climate Change Ethics » Here

Can You Name the Planet’s Biggest Gas Guzzler?

Can You Name the Planet's Biggest Gas Guzzler?

The answer will remind you how much the green movement has in common with the anti-war crowd.

August 16, 2009
By Mickey Z.
Planet Green

For decades, fuel consumption has been a major green issue. From miles-per-gallon to hybrids to alternative energy options and beyond, we surely now realize that the term "gas guzzler" is never a compliment. However, there's a dirty little secret rarely mentioned by the corporate media: The U.S. military is the single-largest purchaser and consumer of oil in the world.

"All the tanks, planes and ships of the U.S. military burn about 340,000 barrels of oil per day," explains Michael Graham Richard at TreeHugger.com. "If you break it down, the Air Force uses the most fuel, followed by the Navy, and then the Army. If the Department of Defense were a country, it would rank about 38th in the world for oil consumption, right behind the Philippines, a country with a population of 90.5 million people."

According to 2007 CIA World Fact Book, when oil consumption is broken down per capita, the U.S. Department of Defense ranks fourth in the world (behind three actual nations, that is.)

Some facts on U.S. military fuel usage since 2003:

2003: $5.21 billion
2007: $12.61 billion

2003: 145.1 million barrels
(397,500 barrels per day)
2007: 132.5 million barrels
(363,000 barrels per day)

2007 U.S. military fuel consumption equals:
90% more than Ireland's annual consumption
38% more than Israel's annual consumption
20 times Iceland's annual consumption

Of course, this is not a problem with a simple solution. Sure, we can make furniture from U.S. army howitzer cartridge cases from the Vietnam war era but that's not exactly gonna slow military gas guzzling. Environmentalists Against War (EAW) have opted for the coalition approach, e.g. cross-pollinating activist camps. In 2003, EAW presented its ten reasons to oppose the ongoing American military intervention in Iraq. These included:

  • War destroys human settlements and native habitats. War destroys wildlife and contaminates the land, air and water. The damage can last for generations.
  • U.S. cluster bombs, thermobaric explosions, electromagnetic bursts, and weapons made with depleted uranium are indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction.
  • Bombs pollute, poisoning the land with unexploded shells and toxic chemicals.

If anti-war activists can lend a hand in the name of climate justice, surely you devoted greenies can make the connections that war is always an assault on the natural world. Hey, if the FBI is watching all of us anyway, what have we got to lose?

See you on the barricades, comrades...

Get involved in the anti-war (and hence green) movement.