Impunity of the Armed Forces faced with the climate crisis


The Dixie fire, in Plumas County, California on July 23, 2021. –  (Photo by JOSH EDELSON / AFP) (Photo by JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images)

By: Raúl Zibechi

It happens with the weather like it does with almost all issues: minor data transcend, but the really important ones remain in the shadows. Thus, through abstractions, it might seem that those of us who inhabit the planet are equally responsible.

Days ago, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change published its sixth report. It says that the rise of the planet’s temperature will have “unprecedented” consequences, like droughts, floods and heat waves ( The report records continued declines in Arctic permafrost, snow, glaciers and ice caps.

A tremendous piece of data comes from experts who assure that the Gulf Stream, the principal maritime mass of the Atlantic that brings warm water from the tropics to the north, could collapse, because it’s weakening rapidly (

There is much more data to add, because almost every year analyses emerge that ensure that the warming leads us into various abysses: climate, social and political. I would like to make three considerations.

1) I have no doubt that the information they provide is true. However, they are propped-up because they don’t say who contaminates the most, where the victims of climate change live and suffer. In particular, the commercial media persist in hiding what’s important.

The Pentagon is the largest institutional consumer of oil and, therefore, the largest individual emitter of greenhouse gases (GHG), according to the Costs of War report, issued by the Watson Institute of Brown University, in November 2019 ( The data is well known, but every time an alert is issued about global warming, it doesn’t se mention who son the big polluters are.

In effect, the Pentagon’s emission of GHG surpasses that of many industrialized nations, like Denmark, Sweden and Portugal. In addition, the “war on terrorism” produced, between 2001 and 2018, 1.267 billion metric tons of GHG.

The Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, the Pentagon’s long-range bomber, consumes as much fuel in one hour as the average automobile driver in seven years (

2) After the dissemination of these studies by the mainstream media, politicians appear concerned, specialists say something, but everyone goes on with their life unchanged, so it’s worth asking how useful the data and statements of good intentions are, if there is not the slightest willingness to change habits and ways of life.

Additionally, the population perceives the reality and, consequently, the skepticism grows. According to the hegemonic media, if we are responsible and save water by turning off the tap while we brush our teeth, things will improve. “Man’s cries of anguish drown them with stories,” wrote León Felipe eight decades ago.

I believe that all of us must take care of the environment. But promoting the idea that climate change depends on individual attitudes is taking us for fools or acting cynically knowing that we don’t believe them.

The European Commission, for example, has published a table where we can consult the GHG emissions per person and those of household appliances and for each activity, but the major polluters never appear, especially if they are multi-national companies and armed forces, two pillars of the system (

3) Governments of any party violate those who least pollute, those who emit the least GHG, those who live in “sobriety and simplicity,” as Carlos Taibo defends for the North (, even knowing that it’s no longer possible because the culture of consumption colonized all space-times.

What infuriates is that the authorities make politically correct speeches about global warming and climate change, promising like Joe Biden, but not flinching when told that the Pentagon is the biggest polluter. The armed forces will be increasingly responsible for the climate crisis, especially during this hegemonic transition that promises gigantic mobilizations of weapons and combatants.

The more painful thing is seeing how the progressive governments launch their military and paramilitary forces against those who resist the extractive megaprojects, from the Maya Train to the Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon. The peoples of Maya roots, the Kayapó people of the Amazon and dozens of other peoples are the ones who are preserving the little surviving biodiversity.

That’s why they are attacked with utter contempt: they are the spearhead of resistance to this death model.


Originally Published in Spanish by La Jornada

Friday, August 13, 2021

Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

One Comment on “Impunity of the Armed Forces faced with the climate crisis

  1. Change requires convincing enough people that the change requested will benefit society and is necessary. That requires a lot of talk and education of people. It takes much effort and time. Progress has been made and with sufficient effort more will be made. Voters have to be convinced, candidates for public office and people who become judges have to be convinced. How soon change comes depends on how hard people who see the need for change work for it and how convincing their arguments are. Laws are needed but will not be passed until enough people are convinced and believe the change is needed. Progress is being made but the longer it takes makes the consequences from failure to change more severe.

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