The US government is frequently defined generally as an army with an insurance company. Regarding the latter, podcast listeners are well aware federal healthcare policymakers have essentially done nothing to address the healthcare industry's annual 500 million ton carbon footprint, 9% of total annual US GHG emissions, despite the fact that at $1.5 trillion the federal government is far and away the largest purchaser of healthcare services. What about the army? The army, or the Department of Defense (DOD), is the single largest institutional fossil fuel user and consequently the single largest GHG emitter in the world. The DOD along with the military-industrial complex annually emit over 110 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions that represents 80% of the federal governments total annual GHG emissions. This reality is particularly disturbing and paradoxical because the DOD’s contribution to the climate crisis compromises its mission to ensure our nation’s security. Despite the fact climate crisis-caused geopolitical instability is increasing, absent proactively working toward building climate security, or climate crisis-related conflict prevention the Pentagon is, Prof. Crawford concludes, inadvertently or deliberately militarizing climate change, that is preparing to fight climate-related battles. (Listeners are also encouraged to read MIT Press's related 2021 work by Gus Speth titled, They Knew, The US Fed Govt’s 50 Year Role in Causing the Climate Crisis.)
This 35-minute interview begins by Prof. Crawford describing what largely accounts for the DOD GHG emissions and problems associated with calculating total DOD emissions. She explains the 1997 Kyoto agreement that permitted countries to exempt military emissions from nations' reduction goals. She explains the DOD's use of fossil fuels since Vietnam to present and reductions in DOD emissions over the past few years, discusses US continuing the emission costs of continuing to defend the Persian Gulf, the debate between DOD building resilience versus mitigating GHG emissions and the interview concludes with Prof. Crawford's comments concerning whether increasing climate disruption will necessarily lead to conflict or war.
Neta Crawford is Montague Burton Chair in International Relations and also holds a Professorial Fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford. She previously taught Boston University and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Prof. Crawford is a co-founder and co-director of the Costs of War Project, based at Brown University and since 2017 has served on the board of the nuclear non-proliferation advocacy organization, Council for a Livable World. She also serves on the editorial boards of The Journal of Political Philosophy and Global Perspectives. Prof. Crawford received the Distinguished Scholar award from the International Ethics section of the International Studies Association in 2018. She was a co-winner of the 2003 American Political Science Association Jervis and Schroeder Award for best book in International History and Politics for her work, Argument and Change in World Politics: Ethics, Decolonization, Humanitarian Intervention. Professor Crawford’s most recent publication is The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War (MIT Press, 2022). She is also working on To Make Heaven Weep: Civilians and the American Way of War. She has authored several other books including, Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America’s Post‑9/11 Wars (2013). Her opinion pieces have appeared in The Washington Post. Prof. Crawford earned her undergraduate degree at Brown and her doctorate in political science at MIT.
Information on Prof. Crawford's book is at: https://mitpress.mit.edu/9780262047487/the-pentagon-climate-change-and-war/.