Robert Meeropol

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"Robby & Elli" 1968

Robby speaking at the re-launch of the Mary Pitawanakwat Fund in Toronto

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Who is the Worst Polluter?

November 22, 2013

Tags: Military pollution, movement building

It is commonly repeated that coal-fired power plants have the worst carbon footprint in the United States. We know this because the coal industry is listed annually in the federal government’s environmental reports as the industry with the most CO2 emissions. However, it is not the case.

The United States Department of Defense has a carbon footprint that is much greater than that of the coal industry. And, as Project Censored has reported, this fact has been consistently ignored and/or covered up by our government and media. []

One of the reasons the public does not know about our military’s abysmal environmental record is because, for national security reasons, the pentagon is exempt from all EPA reporting requirements. And both the Bush and Obama Administrations have insisted that our military not be included in any international climate agreements. This is despite of the fact that our armed forces are continually engaged in massive military operations all over the world, have troops on the ground and bases in dozens of countries, on top of six thousand domestic facilities.

It will surprise no one that despite some recent reports of pentagon-directed efforts at conservation, reducing carbon emissions does not appear to be a priority of the military. Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, states in the Project Censored article that “The Iraq war was responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents from March 2003 through December 2007.” (Project Censored, quoting.) It is hard even to imagine the scale of the pollutants spewed from every military vehicle; including Humvees, tanks, aircraft carriers, bombers and fighter jets to name just a few.

I’m aware of no organized effort of those fighting against climate change to protest our military’s CO2 output. The realization, however, that each ounce of fuel the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines and their private contractors burn remains uncounted in any environmental impact statement worldwide should give climate-change activists pause. If we wish to significantly slow down, let alone reverse, the escalating pace of global warming, we can no longer afford to ignore the United States military.

In addition, green activists and those working to combat militarism are natural allies. Not only is war wrong, it is destroying our planet’s habitability; environmental sustainability is not possible as long as the guns keep firing.

Every week we see more evidence that we must build a mass movement to challenge the current dominance of those who are destroying our habitat. The Green and Peace movements are two key building blocks of the mass movement we so desperately need. An alliance between them is a coalescence whose time has come.

Selected Works

"Bravery is rare. Tyranny is commonplace. Both define the life of Robert Meeropol, son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. In his heart-wrenching, honest memoir, Meeropol recounts the emotional terrors of his childhood, the kindness of Abel and Anne Meeropol-who adopted him and his older brother after their parents' execution-his struggle to vindicate his parents, and his own political activism, culminating in the creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, which he now directs."
Publisher's Weekly
"one of those rare books everyone should read"
–Joyce Carol Oates

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