A recent report claims that the U.S. military emitted 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in 2017.
The military’s carbon footprint was unknown to the public prior to the report, which focused on emissions since the start of the War on Terror following the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Since then, the military has bought an average of 120 million barrels of fossil fuel annually.
“The war machine is thirsty for oil,” Neta Crawford, a political scientist at Boston University, told Earther. “That’s a given because of their need for mobility and they operate in areas with extreme temperatures.”
Though this is one of the most comprehensive reports on military emissions, researchers say it likely doesn’t capture just how bad of a polluter the Pentagon is. The report scoured public records from the Department of Defense on its fuel use as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy, which track all federal agencies’ carbon emissions.
The estimated annual average of 59 million metric tons doesn’t look at the full picture, leaving out emissions related to rebuilding after the horrors of war.
“We have defense forces so they protect us,” Crawford said. “If in the long run, these defense forces make us less secure, then we need to rethink what we’re doing.”