VOICES: The climate crisis vs. military spending

The Climate Crisis is the most-certain and the most-immediate of any of the threats the U.S. faces, including the military.

It is happening now, worldwide, with droughts, flooding, fires and extreme weather; the effects leading to crop failures, diminished access to fresh water, and instability around the world. This has contributed greatly to mass migration, political tensions and the refugee crisis.

A recent report from The World Bank projects there will be 216 million climate refugees by 2050. Here’s the thing: it’s real; it’s us; experts agree; it’s bad; there’s hope. There is not a cliff we will fall off at some predetermined point, a better analogy that well-respected climate scientist, professor and author Michael Mann uses is that we are walking onto a minefield, and the farther we go, the greater the risk. Conversely, the sooner we stop using fossil fuels the better off we will be.

The military has acknowledged the threat of climate change to U.S. security and added it to its list of national security concerns. And yet, the U.S. military is the largest institutional user of petroleum and the single-largest producer of greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in the world. The Pentagon’s GHG exceeds those of many industrial countries such as Denmark, Sweden and Portugal. Since 2001, the Department of Defense has consistently consumed 80% of all U.S. government energy supplies.

The U.S. has repeatedly insisted on excluding requirements to reduce military carbon emissions from international climate agreements. Nor is it included in the graphs typically used to illustrate GHG emitted by the U.S. Ultimately, the military budget must focus on reducing their use of fossil fuels and addressing our greatest threat, the climate crisis.

The U.S. has authorized $700 billion a year for military spending in recent years, more than the combined military spending of our “rivals” China and Russia, and the next 10 biggest spenders, according to Boston University’s often- quoted Cost of War Project.

The DOD budget comprises more than half of all federal discretionary spending every year. The proposed military budget for FY22 is a new-record-high of $753 billion, which includes over $44 billion for new nuclear weapons. It’s a windfall for the weapons industry but devastating for people and the planet. A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies calculates that the cost of U.S. militarization in the last 20 years is a staggering $21 TRILLION, with about half of that going to military contractors.

Meanwhile, on Kaua‘i’s Westside, the DOD is proposing to build a $2-billion, 27-acre radar complex in a tsunami zone, ignoring sea-level-rise predictions. It epitomizes the military’s ongoing failed stewardship of Hawai‘i’s environment. The Homeland Defense Radar-Hawai‘i (HDR-H) was defunded in Trump, and recently Biden administrations, because new technology missiles can evade the HDR-H, rendering it obsolete.

The HDR-H was dug out of the rubbish bin by our congressional delegation, primarily Sen. Mazie Hirono. Hundreds of millions have been secured to do an environmental study. Yet, the community remains in the dark as to the economic, environmental, cultural and other impacts the construction and operation of the HDR-H will have on the infrastructure, housing, chemical exposures, electrical demands on the island.

For more information see nuffmilitary.org

The enemy we know, global warming, poses the most-urgent existential threat, and the need to mobilize all our resources to address it is now.


Laurel Brier is a resident of Anahola and writes for the Kaua‘i Climate Action Coalition, which meets via Zoom the third Monday of the month. Email Kaua‘iclimate@gmail.com to join or for more information. Education forums are held the second Wednesday of the month at 6 p.m. On Oct. 13 the meeting will focus on the importance and possibility of electric vehicles for climate action. For more information, go to ZeroWasteKaua‘i’s Facebook page or register at http://bit.ly/electricvehiclesKaua‘i.

  1. YuCalJoe October 3, 2021 3:59 am Reply

    Thank you for providing this information that I was able to print. In fact, I printed multiple copies. They will make great fertilizer for my garden. With content like this, it can only promote growth like other fertilizer does.

  2. DREW CORNISH October 3, 2021 5:30 am Reply

    I am a vietnam era vet, a firm believer in our military preparedness, but this is beyond appropriate responsibility for the planet and for the island of Kauai. The use of petroleum, diesel, to power the generation plant to provide power to this already antiquated defense system, is a total waste of our tax dollars, not to mention be being completely contrary to the well being of our mother earth. It needs to stopped, regardless of the anticipated provider of jobs, think of the increased traffic in trucking, and workers. Drew

  3. hutch October 3, 2021 9:47 am Reply

    Antarctica, long a bellwether of global warming fantasies, just had its most frigid year ever recorded. There is not ‘climate crisis’. It’s yet another chicken little pipedream of the radical left which wants to foster one-world government based on Marxism.

  4. Mccleod October 3, 2021 11:21 am Reply

    “…well-respected climate scientist, professor and author Michael Mann uses is that we are walking onto a minefield…”
    You are referring to the professor from the University of East Anglia, aren’t you Laurel? The same one that was caught doctoring (aka; torturing) data to prove his infamous “hockey stick” claim? He and his colleagues were busted when their emails were exposed and made public. In the emails, they were foolish enough to discuss altering the data to “prove” their hypothesis that a graph of the earth’s temperature over the last 1000 years looked like a hockey stick with radically climbing temperatures over the last several decades.
    How typical of the doom and gloom types to rely on discredited “experts” in much the same way they used Paul Ehrlich’s trove of outrageous claims, which history has shown were utterly laughable.
    Colin McCleod

  5. Mailman Mike October 3, 2021 11:30 am Reply

    I took biology, chemistry, physics and history in college. There is no climate crisis.You have no proof. And keep all those toxic chemicals like lithium and rare earth elements in the ground.

  6. TomK October 3, 2021 11:55 am Reply

    Interesting statistics. Unfortunately you neglect to mention that no matter what the US does, including the military, the two biggest fossil fuel power plant contributes are China and India and neither of them are changing their ways. In fact they’re building more fossil fuel plants and China deals in LATAM oil as a currency. When China invests
    in LATAM countries, they don’t get repaid in money or gold; they get repaid in oil. What does that tell you?

  7. Mailman Mike October 3, 2021 6:54 pm Reply

    Michael Mann knows nothing about the weather.

  8. KauaiFarmMan October 4, 2021 9:17 am Reply

    This whole article is nothing but regurgitated propaganda. They said in the late 90s that major coastal cities worldwide would be under water by 2020. Didn’t happen. We’ve been legitimately recording temperatures for 200 years. Yeah it sure seems like there is constant weather events worldwide when the internet and media report every little event that happens and people inhabit more parts of the world then ever before. This whole theory is misguided and being used for manipulation. There is hidden agendas.

  9. Not know it al October 4, 2021 6:29 pm Reply

    Anyone remember Y2K ??

  10. Laurel “chicken little” crier October 4, 2021 6:42 pm Reply

    You keep pushing the angle of the sky is falling. Give up your freedoms and comply with green energy plan. Blah blah. It’s basically propaganda. Your non profit gets money to push the narrative. You don’t pay taxes on any income as you are a non profit. You want to get more money and pay less taxes. You are not operating in good faith.

  11. ikashibi October 7, 2021 1:03 pm Reply

    reading the replies to this article proves that one of the worst side effects of the pandemic is stupidity.

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