The? impact? of? war? on the? environment? and? humanhealth
???Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall therefore respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as necessary.??? ??“ 1992 Rio Declaration
The application of weapons, the destruction of structures and? oil fields, fires, military transport movements and chemical? spraying? are all examples of the destroying impact war may have on the environment. Air, water and soil are polluted, man and animal are killed, and numerous health affects occur among those still living. This page is about the environmental effects of wars and incidents leading to war that have occurred in the 20th and 21st century.
War is the number one contributor of environmental destruction not just human lives are wasted but the ecosystem. Here is the list of wars that brought great damages to the environment and its inhabitants.
The Congo? war? ??“The war was fought in former Zaire, now known as the DemocraticRepublic? of the Congo (DRC). The war finally ended in 2003 when a Transitional Government took power. There were more than 2 million people became refugees. The? war brought? an overwhelming effect to the environment.? National parks? where endangered species were sheltered were often affected for exploitation of minerals and other resources. Refugees hunt wildlife for bush meat, either to consume or sell it. Elephant populations in Africa have seriously declined as a result of? ivory poaching.
The Rwanda civil war? ??“ The war started when extremist military Hutu groups murdered about 80,000-1,000,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda. Rwanda has an extremely rich environment, though; it has a particularly limited resource base.?
The countless refugees from the 1994 war caused a? biodiversity? problem. When they returned to the already overpopulated nation after the conflict, they occupied forest reserves where? endangered gorillas? lived. The refugees have destroyed most of the gorilla habitat and it affects their living and population.
Explosion of the TwinTowers of World Trade Centre -? On September 11, 2001, alleged terrorists hijacked passenger planes and crashed on the WTC towers which cause the collapse. The explosion caused a serious and acute environmental disaster. As the planes strike the TwinTowers there were more than 90.000 liters of jet fuel burned at temperatures exceeding 1000oC. An? atmospheric plume? formed, consisting of toxic chemicals such as metals, furans, asbestos, dioxins, PAH, PCB and hydrochloric acid. Nearly all of the materials were fibers from the structure of the building. Asbestos levels ranged from 0.8-3.0% of the total mass. PAH contain more than 0.1% of the overall mass, and PCBs less than 0.001% of total mass. Health effects from inhaling dust included bronchial hyper reactivity, because of the high level of alkalinity of dust particles. The possible health effects consist of? coughs, an increased hazard of asthma and a two-fold increase in the number of small-for-gestational-age baby??™s amid pregnant women present in or nearby the TwinTowers at the time of the attack.
The Cambodia civil war? ??“The rise of the? Khmer Rouge, a Maoist-extremist group that wanted to initiate communism in the country. The Khmer Rouge regime resulted in deforestation, caused by widespread? timber? logging to funding war efforts, agricultural clearance, construction, logging concessions and collection of wood fuels. A totality of 35% of the Cambodian forest was lost under the Khmer Rouge regime. The deforestation resulted in severe floods, damaging rice crops and causing food shortages.
The nuclear explosions in Hiroshima & Nagasaki??“
The first impact of the atomic bombings was a blinding light, accompanied by a huge wave of heat. Parched and combustible materials caught fire, and all men and animals within half a mile from the explosion sites died immediately. In Hiroshima a number of small fires shared with wind created a firestorm, killing those who were dying after the explosion. Within days following the blasts, radiation illness started rearing its horrible head, and many more people would die from it within the coming years. The explosions in Japan translated into environmental effects more plainly. The explosion caused air pollution from dust particles and radioactive debris flying around, and from the fires burning all over the place. Numerous plants and animals were annihilated in the blast, or died moments to months later from radioactive rainfall. Radioactive sand clogged wells used for drinking water winning, by this means causing a drinking water predicament that could not straightforwardly be solved. Surface water sources were polluted, particularly by radioactive waste. Agricultural production was destroyed; dead stalks of rice may perhaps be found up to seven miles from ground zero.
The Gulf War (Iraq and Kuwait) -? In August 1990, Iraqi forces claimed that Kuwait was unlawfully extracting oil from Iraqi territory, and attacked. The United Nations attempted to liberate Kuwait. The Gulf War was one of the most environmentally devastating wars ever fought. Iraq discarded approximately one million tons of? crude oil? into the Persian Gulf, which causes the largest oil spill in history. An estimated of 25,000 migratory birds were killed. The impact on marine life was not as harsh as anticipated, because warm water sped up the natural breakdown of oil.? Crude oil? was also spilled into the desert, creating oil lakes covering 50 square kilometers. Escaping Iraqi troops? ignited Kuwaiti oil sources, discharging half a ton of air pollutants into the atmosphere. Environmental tribulations caused by the oil fires include smog formation and acid rain. Toxic fumes derived from the burning? oil wellscompromised health of the people, and in danger the wildlife.
The Vietnam? War? ??“ The Vietnam War caused great pollution and damage to the forest the US Army carried out a huge? herbicidal? programme? in order to smash the forest cover that shelters the Viet Cong guerrillas, and to dispossess Vietnamese peasants of food. The? spraying? damaged 14% of Vietnam??™s forests, diminished agricultural yield, and made seeds unfit for replanting. The submission of 72 million litres of chemical spray resulted in the death of many animals, and caused health problems to Vietnamese. One chemical that was used, called? Agent Orange, was principally harmful. Its core constituent is dioxin, which was present in soil, water and vegetation during and after the war. Dioxin is carcinogenic and teratogenic, and causes the spontaneous abortions, chloracne, skin and? lung cancers, lower intelligence and emotional problems among children in Vietnam. Children fathered by men exposed to Agent Orange for the duration of the Vietnam War often have congenital abnormalities. Agent Orange continues to threaten the health of the Vietnamese today. The US government once again after the dropping of Atomic bombs in Japan created another killer illness to the families of the country they??™ve engaged war in the past.
Kosovo war ??“? The bombings by the United States resulted in leakages in oil refineries and oil storage depots. The bombings on targeted Industrial sites cause PCBs en mercury escaped to the environment. Burning of Vinyl Chloride Monomer (VCM) resulted in the formation of dioxin, hydrochloric acid, carbon monoxide and PAHs, and oil burning released sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, lead and PAHs into the air. Heavy clouds of black smoke were formed which causes the black rain to fall on the area around Pancevo. Some damage was done to? National Parks? in Serbia by bombings, and therefore to? biodiversity. EDC, mercury andpetroleum products? (e.g. PCBs) polluted the DanubeRiver. These are present in the sediments and may re-emerge in due time. EDC is toxic to both terrestrial and aquatic life. Mercury may be converted into methyl mercury, which is very poisonous and bio accumulates. As a measure to prevent the consequences of bombing, a fertilizer plant in Pancevo released liquid ammonia into the Danube River. This caused fish kills up to 30 kilometers downstream.
World War I??“ World War I was mainly damaging, because of landscape changes caused by trench warfare. Digging trenches caused trampling of grassland, devastating of plants and animals, and churning of soil. Corrosion resulted from forest logging to expand the network of trenches. Soil structures were changed harshly, and if the war was never fought, in all likelihood the countryside would have looked very differently nowadays.
One more damaging impact was the submission of poison gas. Gases were spread all through the trenches to kill soldiers of the opposite front. The gases caused a total of 100,000 deaths, most caused by carbonyl chloride (phosgene). Battlegrounds were polluted, and a large amount of gas evaporates into the atmosphere. When the war ended, unexploded ammunition caused major troubles in former battle areas. Environmental legislation prohibits detonation or dumping chemical weapons at sea; consequently the cleaning was and still residue a costly operation.
The only victor of war is the Politics and the leaders who soon would die. But the damage the war brought to the ecosystem could not be healed and may take many years to recover. Our leaders should start thinking about it, we only have one Planet to live in. How can our childrens children see the beauty of this world if our pride always desires war as the solution to domestic and international conflicts War destroys everything in seconds, that God created in years.
The Effects Of War On The Environment
War can affect more than just the lives of the people living in the area. War can affect the environment that it takes place in. War destroys crops, forest, water systems, and other natural resources. War can also pollution in the air, land, and the water.
???Aerial bombing??? is one of the main causes of land pollution during and after war. Even the use of heavy ???machinery and military??? waste contribute as forms of land pollution caused by war. In the Gulf War of 1991 the disastrous effects of the ???Scorched Earth Policy,??? seriously damaged land of much of Kuwait. Another example of land pollution as a result of war is the use of insecticides and herbicides during war. Many trees and much plant life are lost because of these forms of combat. Destruction of the land environment during war can also have a long term effect on human life because the land cannot be cultivated and used to farm. In some cases the land is inaccessible as a result of the use of landmines and other unexploded war divices.?
Wars have also contributed to the pollution of sea??™s and ocean??™s over the years. Dumping of the chemical wastes from war has had huge effects on marine life. An example can be seen in the pollution of the Persian Gulf area following the Gulf War Oil spills of 1991. These spills have had ???detrimental effects??? on the wildlife and ecosystems in the Persian Gulf area. In some cases, the spills contaminated the fish, particularly of the coast of Saudi Arabia.?
War also affects the quality of the air. The use of tanks and other military machinery and the use of air bombs leave chemicals and debris in the air. Video clips of war may often show images of ???mushroom clouds??? after a bomb has been detonated in a war zone. The chemicals used in such bombs affect both ground level and atmospheric levels of air pollution. One important contributor to air pollution during war is the burning of oil and other natural fuels such as coal and wood. In the past, such use of fossil fuels has..
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War has marked human experience since the beginning of recorded? time, and the demands of war have in many ways shaped and advanced? the practice of medicine.1,2? Rhodes3? estimated the immense scope? of war- related mortality in the 20th century and demonstrated? the increasing fraction of civilian deaths. Levy and Sidel4? recently reviewed the broad public health consequences of preparing? for, coordinating and cleaning up after contemporary wars. War? rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and? mortality. In the 1980s health professionals concern about? the effects of war on the environment5? was focused on the sweepingecological consequences of nuclear weapons.6? In the 1990s the? Gulf War and the Kosovo experiences demonstrated the environmentally? destructive capacities of conventional weapons.7
There remain enormous gaps in our knowledge about the relationship? of war and health. Understanding is constrained by the lack? of recorded information and the comparative absence of continuing? systematic field research undertaken from within any one discipline.? Work is underway to explore how environmental stress and resource? constraints may contribute to conflict,8,9? but the topic lies? outside the scope of this review.
The environmental impacts of war can be understood by examining? the magnitude and duration of effects, involved ecosystems in? specified geographic locations, the use of individual weapons? systems, the results of particular production processes and? the cumulative combined effects of specified military campaigns.? From this perspective, 4 activities can be seen as having prolonged? and pervasive environmental impact with significant consequences? for human populations: productio n and testing of nuclear weapons,? aerial and naval bombardment of terrain, dispersal and persistence? of land mines and buried ordnance, and use or storage of military? despoliants, toxins and waste.
Production and testing of nuclear weapons
Nuclear weapons technology was developed during World War II? and expanded as an industrial enterprise of vast scope and complexity? in the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.? Nuclear weapons technology continues to dominate concerns regarding? potential hazards to the environment.10? Radioactivity, released? into the environment in many phases of production and testing? processes, poses a serious threat to the health of biological? species, including humans. Assessment of this threat begins? with estimating the amount of radiation released, itself a difficult? task, and then evaluating health risks on the basis of what? can be found in epidemiological studies of exposed populations? and ecosystems over time. These studies are based on relatively? small samples and look at areas affected by above-ground tests,11,12,13,14,15? areas near nuclear weapons production and storage facilities16? and areas used for radioactivity tests.17? These studies raise? concern in terms of human health effects, costs of environmental? cleanup and continued environmental contamination.18,19,20,21,22,23
Massive amounts of radioactivity have been released in the last? half of the 20th century from the nuclear weapons testing programs? of all the main nuclear powers. The testing phase of nuclear? weapons included 423 atmospheric tests (conducted from 1945? to 1957) and about 1400 underground tests (from 1957 to 1989).? The total burden of radionuclides released from these tests? has been estimated at 16??“18 million curies (1 Ci = 3.7? x? 1011? Bq) of strontium-90, 25??“29 million curies of cesium-137,? 400 000 curies of plutonium-329 and (for the atmospheric tests? only) 10 million curies of carbon-14.11,21
More is known from the United States than from other countries? about radiation releases from the military production of nuclear? weapons. Production sites that have been investigated and found? to have caused significant environmental contamination include? the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state (producing? weapons-grade plutonium), the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee? (producing components for nuclear weapons), the Rocky Flats? Plant in Colorado (producing plutonium triggers for warheads)? and the Savannah River Plant in Georgia (producing tritium and? plutonium). Accidental releases and continued emissions as part? of daily operations have been reported at these and many other? production facilities.21? Disputes regarding the human healtheffects of these exposures have not been entirely resolved,? despite extensive study.24,25? The US government has recently? acknowledged that occupational exposures to nuclear and other? toxic materials at these plants justifies the awarding of compensation? to over 3000 current and retired workers whose health has been? adversely affected.26
Aerial and naval bombardment
Bombardment of the urban infrastructure, which constitutes the? environment for a significant fraction of the worlds human? population, has always caused forced dislocation of survivors.? During World War II, when air power for the first time was deployed? as the pivotal military technology, the practice of bombing? civilian settlements became increasingly prevalent, and hundreds? of thousands of people died as a result.27? In the aerial bombardments? of Tokyo in March 1945, about 100 000 to 200 000 people were? killed. In the fire bombings of 70 German cities, including? Hamburg in 1943 and Dresden in 1945, it is estimated that 500? 000 to 800 000 people died.28? About 200 000 people died from? the acute effects of the atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? in 1945.29
The bombardment of cities and the destruction of forests, farms,? transport systems and irrigation networks during World War II? produced devastating environmental consequences,30? and by the? end of the war there were almost 50 million refugees and displaced? people.31,32? In the last year of the war the land of coastal? and northern France was torn up, Holland south of the Zuyder? Sea was flooded with the destruction of dikes, and many ports? were clogged with unexploded ordnance and sunken ships. Great? damage had been done to most cities in Europe, with the hardest? hit including Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Dusseldorf,? Boulogne, Le Havre, Rouen, Brest, Pisa,Verona, Lyons, Budapest,? Leningrad, Kiev and Cracow.
All visitors to central Europe reported a feeling of unreality;? lunar landscapes dotted with enormous heaps of rubble and bomb? craters, deserted and stinking ruins that had once been business? centres and residential areas. To find housing for the survivors? was the most urgent problem, but in Germany about a quarter? of all houses were uninhabitable, and almost as many in Poland,? Greece, Yugoslavia, and the European part of the Soviet Union.? In the American zone of Germany 81 per cent of all houses had? been destroyed or damaged. In the German-occupied parts of the? Soviet Union the homes of six million families had been destroyed,? leaving about 25 million people without shelter.33
Estimates of war damage in Japan noted that 66 cities had suffered? major damage, with about 40% of their area destroyed; throughout? Japan about 9 million people were left homeless. Comprehensive? data are not available, but limited evidence from the first? 2 post-war years suggests that, because of vast food shortages? and the failure of the 1945 rice harvest, hunger and malnutrition? afflicted the majority of the population and thousands died? from causes related to starvation.34
This sequence of aerial bombardment, destruction of home and? urban and rural infrastructure, and progressive waves of dislocated? or homeless people, can be seen in all wars subsequent to World? War II. In the 15 years of the war in Southeast Asia, the US? bombardment of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia forced about 17 million? people to become refugees.35? In the Gulf War, the allied forces? crippled the urban support systems of major cities in Iraq.36,37,38In the conflicts of the post-Cold War era, marked by sieges? of cities, attacks on safe havens and pulverization of towns? to effect ethnic cleansing, millions of people have been forced? to flee within or across national borders. In 1999 about 35? million people were counted as refugees or internally displacedpeople as a result of war or internal crisis.39,40
As a result of the last 50 years of wars in Europe, Africa,? Asia and Latin America, an estimated 70??“100 million antipersonnel? land mines are still active and in place worldwide, and another? 100 million exist in stockpiles.41? Almost 400 million have been? strewn across continents since World War II, and with the proliferation? of civil wars waged by irregular forces, the use and spread? of land mines as a preferred method of securing and denying? land has accelerated.42? Land mines are placed now without regard? to requirements under international law to mark, map, monitor? and remove them.43,44? Hence, the majority of the victims of? land-mine explosions are civilians engaged in daily farming? or foraging activities.45,46,47,48? Reliable regional estimates? of incident rates of injury and death are difficult to come? by; one frequently cited statistic is that land mines injure? or kill about 500 people every week.49
The countryside of Kosovo was rimmed and internally laced with? land mines laid by all sides; after a year of international? efforts to remove them, an estimated 1415 known or suspected? minefields remain. Since the June 1999 ceasefire and the return? of the civilian population, the monthly toll killed from land-mine? or cluster-bomb explosions has dropped from 44 deaths and 109? serious injuries in June 1999 to no deaths and 15 serious injuries? in April 2000.50
Land mines accelerate environmental damage through 1 of 4 mechanisms:? fear of mines denies access to abundant natural resources and? arable land; populations are forced to move preferentially into? marginal and fragile environments in order to avoid minefields;? this migration speeds depletion of biological diversity; and? land-mine explosions disrupt essential soil and water processes.
Review of experiences in the 20th century indicates that the? persistence of active mines and unexploded ordnance haunts old? battle areas and that, despite intensive efforts at clearance? and deactivation, millions of hectares remain under interdiction? in Europe, North Africa and Asia.51? In Libya one third of itsland mass is considered contaminated by land mines and unexploded? munitions from World War II.52? When these mines do explode,? in addition to causing serious injury and death to humans, domestic? animals and wildlife, they shatter soil systems, destroy plant? life and disrupt water flows, accelerating ecosystem disruption.53? Interactions between natural disasters and buried land mines? slow attempts to demine areas and protect populations. For instance,the floods in Mozambique in 1999 and 2000 are feared to have? displaced the hundreds of thousands of land mines left from? the civil war, and concern about their whereabouts has delayed? recovery operations. Painstaking efforts to mark known minefields? have been set back considerably by the flood waters, and a new? mapping team has been sent out by the international community.54
Despoliation, defoliation and toxic pollution
Attempts to damage the environment as a tactic of war against? the formal enemy and as a means of instilling terror in the? general populace have been described throughout history.55,56? During World War II instances of dike disruption,57,58? dam destruction59? and scorched earth retreats60? have been well documented. Interactions? between natural disasters and buried land mines slow attempts? to demine areas and protect populations.
It is generally accepted that the extensive use of environmental? destruction as a strategic practice in war can be seen to date? from the use of defoliants during the war in Southeast Asia.? From 1965 to 1971 the United States sprayed 3640 km2? of South? Vietnams cropland with herbicides, using a total estimated? amount of 55 million kg. The stated rationale was to deny the? enemy sources of food and means of cover.35? This widespread? use of chemicals to destroy farmland, forest and water sources? is unprecedented, and the environmental consequences are still? relatively unexplored. International teams have been granted? access for field assessments only in the last few years.61
Of the many wars waged since Vietnam, the Gulf War during January? and February 1991 demonstrates the ways in which the technologies? of war and industry can be used to wreak widespread environmental? havoc. Iraqis release of about 10 million barrels of Kuwaiti? oil into Gulf waters62? caused great stress to an ecosystem already? suffering from decades of abuse (oil spills, the Iraq??“Iran? war, freighter traffic and industrial waste). Scientific assessments? of this ecological loss and the catastrophe resulting from the? Iraqi firing of 732 Kuwaiti oil wells63,64? are underway, although? constrained by incomplete data and controversy.65,66,67,68,69
More recent wars, or what the humanitarian relief community? terms “complex humanitarian emergencies,”70,71? have been assessed? for their potential, through the creation of large refugee camps,? to inflict harm on the local environment in which the camps? are situated. In the cases of the refugee camps in the African? Great Lakes region from 1994??“1997, Mozambique, Sudan and? the Afghanistan??“Pakistan border areas, a number of studies? are now looking at issues of deforestation, encroachment on? vulnerable ecosystems and national parks, water pollution and? sanitation degradation, air pollution and loss of endangered? species.72,73
Future work on the environmental effects of war must address? 4 main issues: information, threat assessment, vulnerability? assessment and the role of international law.
?·? Information:? Insufficient information exists about? the effects of war on natural ecosystems, both in the immediate? aftermath of war and over the long term. Methods for historical? and contemporaneous reporting are incompletely developed and? lack robust institutional support. Without improvement in these? areas, assessments of the environmental damage of war will continue? to be fragmentary.
?·? Threat assessment:? Escalation in numbers of weapons,? advances in technology and widespread proliferation, including? threats, of terrorist use74,75? now place the local, regional? and global environment in greater jeopardy than ever before.? Nuclear weapons, the most extreme technology, have been shown? in careful theoretical studies to be capable, even in limited? regional use, of destroying vast sections of the worlds environment.76? Despite the fact that our capacity to contain and mitigate environmental? effects of current weapons systems used in war is grossly underdeveloped,? the world community continues to permit, and even support, a? multiplicity of regional and international arms races.77
?·? Vulnerability assessment:? Historical data on the destruction? of coral reefs during the war in the Pacific78? and enduring? changes in desert terrain from the North African campaigns of? World War II79,80? provide faint and isolated hints that fragile? environments take a long time to recover from war. Burdened? by rapid population growth in many parts of the world, unrestrained? settlement and economic exploitation, regional ecosystems are? increasingly threatened.81As we encroach upon the margins of? our environment into the 21st century, post-war ecological resilience? cannot be assumed to be present in all places, particularly? within a human timeframe.
?·? International law:? The legal and ethical framework? within which the medical and public health profession works? during wartime is defined by the Geneva Conventions and related? documents. The current discussion is whether existing law to? limit the environmental effects of war is sufficient, if fullyenforced, or whether new law is needed. Proposals to set up? environmental surveillance systems, as enforcement mechanisms? to support current law, were developed during the Gulf War.82,83,84
The increasing participation of health care professionals in? these 4 areas of work may lend impetus to the development of? research and policy leading to more positive outcomes.
They release toxic gases into the atmosphere which remains there for many years which later have an effect on the organisms of the earth humansin particular.It has an effect on respiratory systems(lung cancer),bronchiotis.In children asthma,acute respiratory infections,allergies and other ailments.Co displaces oxygen in the blood and reduces the amount of O2 carried in the blood tissues,it can also deprive unborn infants of the extra oxygen they need during prenatal growth.Lead causes the CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM and causes mental retardation in young children.Both adults n children suffer from nausea,brain and kidney damage. The nuclear wepons generate radioactive waste it is improperly disposed as a result it enters the human body when there is direct contact with th earth or indirectly through the food chain.Small amount of exposure causes nausea,vomitting and loss of appetite.Severe exposure results in n the destruction of white and red blood cells rendering the individual in capable of resisting infection.Severe and prolonged exposure leads to cancer and mutation of the genes resulting inthe birth of deformed children from parents who are so affected.
As well as the cost to human life and society there are various? environmental issues? that result from? war? or from its preparation.
Scorched earth? methods during, or after war have been in use for much of recorded history but with modern? technology? war can cause a far greater devastation on the? environment.? Unexploded ordnance? can render land unusable for further use or make access across it dangerous or fatal.
Contents? [hide] * 1? Issues * 1.1? Agent Orange * 1.2? Atomic bombing in Japan * 1.3? Depleted uranium munitions * 1.4? Fossil fuel use * 1.5? Gulf War * 1.6? Intentional flooding * 1.7? Testing of nuclear armaments * 2? War and environmental law * 3? See also * 4? References * 5? Further reading * 6? External links |
See also:? Environmental issue
Main article:? Agent Orange
Agent Orange? is the? code name? for an? herbicide? and? defoliant? used by the? U.S. military? in its? herbicidal warfare? program,? Operation Ranch Hand, during the? Vietnam War. An estimated 21,136,000 gal. (80 000 m?) of Agent Orange were sprayed across South Vietnam, exposing 4.8 million Vietnamese people to Agent Orange, and resulting in 400,000 deaths and disabilities, and 500,000 children born with birth defects.
Atomic bombing in Japan
Main article:? Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the first use of an atomic weapon and it had a devastating effect on the? built environment? and on human life.
The bombs killed as many as 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 80,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945,? roughly half on the days of the bombings. Amongst these, 15 to 20% died from injuries or illness attributed to? radiation poisoning. Since then, more have died from? leukemia? (231 observed) and solid? cancers? (334 observed) attributed to exposure to radiation released by the bombs. In both cities, the overwhelming majority of the dead were civilians.
Depleted uranium munitions
Main article:? Depleted uranium
The use of depleted uranium in? munitions? is controversial because of numerous questions about potential long-term health effects.? Normal functioning of the? kidney,? brain,? liver,? heart, and numerous other systems can be affected by uranium exposure, because in addition to being weakly radioactive, uranium is a? toxic metal.? It remains weakly radioactive because of its long? half-life. The aerosol produced during impact and combustion of depleted uranium munitions can potentially contaminate wide areas around the impact sites or can be inhaled by civilians and military personnel.? In a three week period of conflict in Iraq during 2003 it was estimated over 1000 tons of depleted uranium munitions were used mostly in cities.? TheU.S. Department of Defense? claims that no human? cancer? of any type has been seen as a result of exposure to either natural or depleted uranium.? Yet, U.S. DoD studies using cultured cells and laboratory rodents continue to suggest the possibility of? leukemogenic,? genetic,? reproductive, and? neurological? effects from chronic exposure.? In addition, the UK Pensions Appeal Tribunal Service in early 2004 attributed? birth defect? claims from a February 1991? Gulf War? combat veteran to depleted uranium? poisoning.? Also, a 2005epidemiology? review concluded: “In aggregate the human epidemiological evidence is consistent with increased risk of birth defects in offspring of persons exposed to DU.”
Fossil fuel use
With the high degree of mechanisation of the military large amounts of? fossil fuels? are used. Fossil fuels are a major contributor to? global warming? and? climate change, issues of increasing concern. Access to oil resources is also a factor for instigating a war.
The? United States Department of Defense? (DoD) is a government body with the highest use of fossil fuel in the world.? According to the 2005? CIA World Factbook, when compared with the consumption per country the DoD would rank 34th in the world in average daily oil use, coming in just behind Iraq and just ahead of Sweden.
During the first? Gulf War? the? Kuwaiti oil fires? were a result of the scorched earth policy of Iraqi military forces retreating from? Kuwait? in 1991 after conquering the country but being driven out by? Coalition? military forces. The? Gulf War oil spill, regarded as the worst oil spill in history, was caused when Iraqi forces opened valves at the Sea Island oil terminal and dumped oil from several tankers into the? Persian Gulf.
Some American military personnel complained of? Gulf War syndrome, typified by symptoms including immune system disorders and birth defects in their children. Whether it is due to time spent in active service during the war or for other reasons remains controversial.
Flooding can be used as scorched earth policy through using water to render land unusable. It can also be used to prevent the movement of military personnel. During the? Second Sino-Japanese War? dykes on the? Yellow? and the? Yangtze Rivers? were breached to halt the advance of Japanese forces. Also during the? Siege of Leiden? in 1573 the dykes were breached to halt the advance of Spanish forces.
Testing of nuclear armaments
Testing of? nuclear armaments? has been carried out at various places including? Bikini Atoll, the? Marshall Islands,? New Mexico? in the US,? Mururoa Atoll? and? Maralinga? in Australia.
Downwinders? are individuals and communities who are exposed to? radioactive contamination? and/or? nuclear fallout? from atmospheric and/or underground? nuclear weapons testing, andnuclear accidents.
War and environmental law
Main article:? War and environmental law
From a legal standpoint, environmental protection during times of war and military activities is addressed partially by international environmental law. Further sources are also found in areas of law such as general international law, the? laws of war,? human rights law? and local laws of each affected country.
Wars Forgotten Victim
In the opening months of 1991, the eyes of the world were fixed on the burning oil wells of Kuwait. Violating international treaties, Iraqi forces had destroyed over seven hundred of the wells and spilled ten million gallons of crude oil??”the largest human faciliated discharge of oil ever??”into the tiny nations waterways and deserts. Faced with abandoning the country his forces had invaded the year before, Saddam Hussein was now using the environment itself as a weapon of mass destruction. Though these moves barely slowed the Allied forces, their environmental damage is still being felt.
According to? Green Cross International,? an organization that works to ameliorate the environmental effects of war, “The oil contamination of the terrestrial ecosystems [in Kuwait] reached levels on a scale unprecedented in the history of the planet. The impacts on the environment will take decades to partially disappear and their full effects may never be known.” 
We are used to thinking of human effects on the environment??”like pollution or sprawl??”as being the result of growth, a byproduct of consumption and development. Often, policy makers must balance environmental problems against long term economic benefits such as jobs, food production or human welfare.
Yet the environmental consequences of economic activity can pale before the damage associated with the far more ambivalent benefits of war. Regardless of the political logic, violent conflicts within and between nations are??”by definition??”designed to bring about the purposeful destruction of humans, resources and landscape. Ultimately, as Green Cross Executive Director Bertrand Charrier notes: “The environment has always been one of the victims of war.” 
Iraqs actions in the Persian Gulf brought the connection of war and the environment to world attention. Though wars throughout history have included premeditated destruction of the ecosystem, assaults on this scale remain, thankfully, more the exception than the rule. Perhaps of greater concern, however is the wide range of inherent environmental damage that occurs in the preparation, execution and aftermath of any violent conflict.
Warfare can affect many aspects of the environment. Land use, water supply, air quality, biological resources, and the functioning of ecosystem services are often disrupted by war. Military impact on natural capital is global, ongoing, and persistent. It can result from the actual physical destruction of landscape, the release of pollution during (or in preparation for) combat, or from the social disruption that leads to refugee populations, resource depletion and subsistence living.
Yet, though it is self-evident that war causes environmental damage, it is surprising how seldom the issue is raised by environmental advocates. The impact of a particular weapons testing ground may be debated, or we may condemn the senseless loss of species to combat, but it is rare to perceive war itself as being, fundamentally, an attack on the environment.
A few examples will demonstrate the many forms these attacks may take:
* The? International Campaign to Ban Landmines? estimates that tens of millions of explosive booby traps have been left scattered around the world from various conflicts. In nations such as Cambodia and Bosnia there may be well over a hundred landmines per square mile. Beyond the horrendous human costs exacted by these devices, when present in such numbers, they effectively shut off access to huge amounts of productive land. One U.S. State Department report called landmines “.the most toxic and widespread pollution facing mankind.” 
* Critical natural habitat and its associated biodiversity have been steadily diminished in wars around the world. By 1991, decades of civil war in Angola had left the nations parks and reserves with only 10% of their 1975 wildlife population levels. In Sri Lanka, a six-year civil war has led to the felling of over 5 million trees, including 2.5 million of the palmyrah, a crucial resource for the farmers and villagers of the island. Bombing and defoliants in Vietnam and Afghanistan resulted in dramatic habitat loss for both countries.
* In 1995, defense workers sued the U.S. government, charging that they had been exposed to toxic and hazardous substances while working at the Air Forces legendary “Area 51” flight test facility. The acts alleged to have occurred at the Groom Lake, Nevada site included the widespread burning of carcinogenic chemicals used in the manufacture of Stealth aircraft. The Air Force??”while denying that such a base even existed??”nonetheless received a Presidential Determination exempting the installation from environmental laws. 
* Since the end of the Cold War, sobering information has come to light about the environmental practices of the former Soviet military, particularly in its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. It now seems clear that significant accidents occurred in Soviet nuclear weapons plants, including one in 1958 near the city of Kyshtym which resulted in an unknown number of fatalities and a vast area of land rendered uninhabitable. Similarly, the now-abandoned biological weapons laboratory on Vozrozhdeniye Island in the Aral Sea poses such a threat that specialists from the U.S. Department of Defense have been involved in classified missons to assist with the cleanup. 
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A Question of Priorities
When looking at the effects of military action on the environment, it is important to recognize that military matters receive overriding priority in public policy forums. For nations, particularly those in the midst of armed struggles, war is often a matter of national and social survival. Environmental issues, regardless of their urgency, are almost always secondary to these goals.
In the central African nation of? Rwanda, for example, it is estimated that in 1994 upwards of 600,000 people died in one 90 day period of organized massacres. That the struggle in this country may also threatened the remnants of the rare mountain gorilla population is hardly likely to be a major concern for the combatants.
Similarly, when asked about the use of depleted uranium (DU) in armor piercing ordnance during the recent Kosovo conflict, a U.S. military spokesmans comment on the controversial practice was simple: “We have the capability and we have DU rounds in the inventory, and if its determined thats the best weapon to use against the target, it will be used.”
The? Center for Defense Information, a think-tank sometimes critical of the Pentagon, expressed it even more starkly: “They do a risk-benefit analysis, and blowing holes in tanks wins.” 
Another issue that arises when discussing the impacts of war on the environment is the difficulty in gaining accurate information. By necessity, much of a nations military preparation and action takes place in secrecy, and often public statements cannot be verified. While crucial to carrying out the immediate goals of armed conflict, secrecy and deception can confuse discussion of complex environmental issues.
In the case of the U.S. governments testing of secret, high performance aircraft, for example, a variety of stories were used to cover the Air Forces activity in the Nevada desert, including the recent acknowledgement that fantastic tales of “UFOs” were actively circulated. While this may be seen now as a clever tactical ruse, it might also have blurred a more down to Earth truth??”that in the course of developing state-of-the-art combat aircraft, the U.S. military may have been destroying dangerous chemicals by questionable and illegal techniques. 
With growing ecological concerns around the world, environmental misinformation has also become part and parcel of propaganda campaigns. During the Kosovo conflict, Serbian sources made widely quoted claims that NATO action was leading to a generalized environmental disaster in the Balkans. A subsequent report by the UNs? Balkans Task Force? (BTF) indicated that, while there were specific areas with environmental damage, the Balkans as a whole were not threatened by the action. Blurring the issue even more, the BTF noted that “Part of the contamination identified at some sites clearly pre-dates the Kosovo conflict, and there is evidence of long-term deficiencies in the treatment and storage of hazardous waste.” 
Another feature which is characteristic of war is a breakdown in a societys infrastructure. Physical facilities for transportation, health care, water supply, sewage disposal, electricity and communication, to a few, can all be significantly compromised. Key people in various service positions (including environmental protection) may have been casualties of the conflict. Traditional methods of farming and conservation are often eliminated. Systems for environmental protection may have been deactivated, and resources for such services may have been diverted to military assets.
By the same token, war can lead to a breakdown in ecological infrastructure, impairing important ecosystem services. Again, the Persian Gulf provides an illustration. Not only did the oil spills endanger the arid regions water supplies, the thick clouds of smoke from the nine months of oil fires had notable impact on local and regional climate. Studies show that the temperature of the region dropped a full ten degrees Centigrade during the period the fires were burning.
Similarly, actions such as deforestation, habitat destruction and degraded human waste disposal??”all associated with war and its aftermath??”can affect other key ecosystem services such as erosion control, water quality and food production.
This is exacerbated by the unprecedented scale of destruction which modern weapons can perpetrate. Warfare today uses explosives and machinery to subdue enemies and territories. As one writer observes “The intensity of environmental damage resulting from wars has been remarkably parallel to the technological advancement…in warfare.” 
The result is that ecosystem services can be disrupted on enormous scales, over both distance and time. Two decades of war and unrest in Cambodia, for instance, have destroyed 35% of its forest cover. In Vietnam, bombs alone are estimated to have consumed over 2 million acres of land. And in Afghanistan, one quarter of the forests were destroyed, leading to the conclusion that “…the damage to the forests may be the greatest environmental catastrophe that occurred in Afghanistan during the war…”
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“A New Kind” of Warfare
In one instance, at least, it might be argued that, in the past, environmental issues led to some military restraint. For the superpowers during the Cold War, it was apparent that the use of the destructive force of nuclear weapons systems would lead to global environmental cataclysm. Despite the tensions and low-level conflicts of that period, it appears that fear of such environmental annihilation required all parties to limit military activity. Similarly, for the past 80 years, fear of the consequences of chemical warfare has largely (though not completely) kept the use of such weapons in check.
Modern warfare??”that is, conflict in the years since the Cold War ended??”has made the environmental effects of war more problematic. There are currently some 40 armed conflicts going on in the world, involving tens of millions of people. Many of these are taking place in locations that are critical in the efforts to maintain biodiversity??”Africa, South Asia and Latin America. Because these are often in highly populated, lower income nations, they also tend to be regions which are already suffering severe environmental stresses.
Scientific American?  in its special report “Waging a New Kind of War,” noted that: “More than 100 conflicts have erupted since 1990, about twice the number for previous decades. These wars have killed more than five million people, devastated entire geographic regions, and left tens of millions of refugees and orphans.” These lower level wars have lacked the catastrophic ecological consequences that would have resulted from a war of superpowers. Instead, they may go on for years, incrementally chipping away at natural resources.
Only a few of these conflicts involve the organized militaries of more than one nation. Most combat occurring today is not the traditional style of war fought between armed countries but is the result of civil war, ethnic and religious conflicts, and other types of irregular actions.
Often a proliferation of sophisticated small arms has been a key element in these struggles. Such weapons have “given paramilitary groups a firepower that often matches or exceeds that of national police or constabulary forces.” As a result, “societies awash in weapons often find themselves caught in a culture of violence even after the formal conflict ends.” 
This is significant in environmental terms because modern warfare??”rather than being one political or economic system trying to displace another??”often, in fact, represents a general breakdown in all political and economic systems. Such war is more a pattern of chaotic violence than a series of pitched battles and there is an absence of moderating influences??”internal or external??”to limit patterns of environmental destruction.
Put another way, the? United States Department of Defense? may be able to devote meaningful resources to limiting its environmental impacts; groups such as the Congolese Liberation Movement are not likely to have the means or the motivation to do so.
Often, modern wars transcend national borders and traditional concepts of citizenship. Geographic regions, ethnic groups, religious sects and historical nationalities may all be in conflict. Lacking stable homelands, many people who are affected by violence end up as refugees. These masses of stateless people can be a serious environmental aftermath of war.
The? United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees? (UNHCR) estimates there may be as many as 20 million people at present who have fled their countries or otherwise been displaced. Because refugees are thrown??”sometimes without warning??”into a hardscrabble existence, scratching to survive, their impact on the local environment can be significant. According to UNHCR literature  “The arrival of a huge influx of refugees inevitably places intense pressure on the environment of the host country. Local deforestation, soil erosion, water contamination and depletion are all greatly accelerated by refugees.”
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Study War No More
Trying to lessen the impact of war on the environment can be a frustrating exercise. Any measures that can be put in place will be faced with a series of obstacles. International law is of limited use in full scale war, particularly when formal nation-states are not the combatants. The enforcement of treaties and conventions is itself often ultimately linked to military intervention. Similarly, self imposed restraints on the level of environmental damage allowed in combat??”as promoted by many U.S. and? NATO? policies??”will almost certainly not be a priority during battle. The most effective solution??”limit or eliminate military action??”is a goal which has eluded humanity since prehistory.
This does not mean, however, that there is no point in trying to address the issue. While environmental damage will always be a collateral effect of warfare, with adequate preparation, clear rules of engagement and timely post war interventions, this damage can be lessened and ultimately corrected. In working towards these goals, it is convenient to employ two terms used for peacetime environmental management: pollution prevention and environmental remediation.
In domestic and peacetime environmental management, pollution prevention is a model of planning which reduces the sources of pollution. In domestic activities, the U.S. EPA considers pollution prevention to be the national environmental policy. The goal here is “preventing pollution before it is created, so there is less or no need to control, treat, or dispose of it.” 
Preventing pollution in war would probably have to start with understandings and agreements reached during times of peace. The 1997 Treaty to Ban Landmines, 1977s Convention on the Prohibition of Military or any other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques, and the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, all can be thought of as examples of pollution prevention policies. Though by no means perfect, such treaties provide a set of international standards and expectations, limiting the preparation of strategies in peacetime that may lead to the use of environmentally damaging techniques during war.
The use of international law for this purpose was discussed by experts at the Environmental Law Institutes “First International Conference on Addressing Environmental Consequences of War”  in 1998, one of the few gatherings to have specifically addressed the issue.
There was disagreement over whether the need was for additional international standards or simply better adherence to existing ones. According to Richard Falk of Princeton University, “the current standards have no bite.” Adam Roberts, of Oxford, however, indicated a need for better implementation of existing law and for “improving the international culture of how the environment is viewed.”
“Pollution prevention” can also be thought of as the operational guidelines for military officers which limit their use of environmentally damaging tactics. The U.S. Department of Defense??”complying with American environmental laws??”has an extensive environmental management system, as does NATO. Such systems are less developed in many nations, however, and are largely non-existent among the insurgent and irregular forces in some of the most environmentally threatened regions.
There is also the problem that, as retired Adm. Elmo Zumwalt observed: “…military leaders will use any weapon that will give an advantage over the enemy.” Zumwalt, once commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, emphasized the need for international law. “The only restraint will flow from international treaties which pressure governments not to authorize the use of environmentally destructive weapons.” 
For the most part, however, the existing international law only applies to intentional environmental destruction. Despite the best efforts of diplomats and scholars, war will inevitably damage key natural ecosystem services. In post war settings, timely and effective remediation is a key to minimizing the damage to the environment.
Environmental remediation is a well known concept, applied in settings such as superfund sites and wetland restoration. In essence, remediation consists of evaluating the amount of damage done to the environment in a location, determining what level of correction is needed to remove hazards to humans in the area, and re-establishing environmental quality for a location.
In the case of the Persian Gulf, remediation has been going on since the war ended. By quick action, 95% of the spilled oil was retrieved and exported. Though the remaining spills continue to threaten the environment, the catastrophe would have been compounded significantly without such remediation.
Similarly, in Kosovo, UN experts??”while dispelling claims of “environmental catastrophe affecting the Balkans as a whole”??”identified four “hot spots” where the environmental damage was a direct result of the Kosovo conflict. These areas will require immediate action. They maintain that the situation is severe enough that the international community should provide environmental assistance as part of humanitarian aid packages, “thus avoiding further harm to human health and the environment.” 
In dealing with the effects of war, remediation can take many forms. It may borrow techniques from waste management, erosion control or public health, to a few. It may involve rapid, crisis based responses, as in the Kuwait fires, or??”like a re-forestation effort in El Salvador??”it may be part of a long term environmental sustainability plan.
Refugee relief efforts can also be thought of as a form of remediation. Organizations like the International Red Cross and the UNHCR have begun to incorporate environmental management into their strategies. In some cases the remediation may consist of very concrete, commonsense steps to lessen the impact refugee populations can have on fragile ecosystems.
CARE International, for example found that for the Rwandans fleeing to Tanzania, details as simple as grain milling techniques and lids for cooking pots could achieve a 75% reduction in the amount of fuel wood needed. Considering that over 200,000 refugees fled Rwanda in a single day, reduced wood requirements can save entire forests.
This last example underscores the fact that information and management skills may be the most important factors in reducing and mitigating the environmental effects of warfare. Science-based understanding of environmental damage and remediation will a necessity in carrying this out. This is particularly critical in the face of the repeated misinformation and deceptions that the various political actors in a conflict may employ. It will be the responsibility of the international scientific community (such as the World Health Organization and the Royal Society, both of which are currently preparing assessments of DU ordinance) to provide sound, unbiased guidance in this area.
In the end, as Mikhail Gorbachev  pointed out, all weapons destroy the environment. The most important thing now is to prevent war, not just to improve the international laws of war.
Yet, with this goal seeming to become more elusive every year, it will fall upon policy makers, diplomats and scientists to develop methods which will, at least, have a chance of preventing environmental catastrophe. To do this, society must look beyond the political rationales and recognize warfare for what it is: a direct and relentless assault on human and natural ecosystems.