Voices For The Planet
The Military’s Impact on the Environment?
At least 200,000 squared kilometers... 2 percent of total U.S. territory... is devoted to military purposes. Direct military land use in Western Europe is estimated at 1 to 3 percent of the total land mass.
The U.S. Department of Defense consumes 2 to 3 percent of total U.S. energy demand and 3 to 4 percent of oil demand. In 12 months the U.S. military consumes enough energy to run the entire U.S. urban mass transit system for almost 14 years.
During the 1980s the U.S. military generated, on average, about 450,000 tons of toxic waste annually, more than the top five U.S. chemical companies combined.
Since the 1940s the U.S. has spent close to $300 billion (in 1990 dollars) on designing, testing and manufacturing nuclear warheads. Over that time, approximately 60,000 warheads were produced in a complex of more than 100 facilities in 32 states, employing some 600,000 workers. About 100 tons of weapon grade plutonium and 500 tons of highly enriched uranium are either currently stored or assembled in weapons.
The Soviet Academy of Medical Sciences determined in 1989 that residents of Semipalatinsk, near the main former Soviet nuclear test bomb site in Kazakhstan, had experienced excess cancers, genetic diseases and child mortality because of radiation exposure from earlier atmospheric tests. In 1988 the Soviet medical researchers reported an incidence of cancer in the area that was 70 percent above the national average.
• Decade of Decision, a video narrated by renowned American broadcaster Walter Cronkite, examines the linkages between population and environmental problems. Produced by the United States-based Population Crisis Committee, it is intended for use by citizen activists. Running time, 12:50 minutes; priced at $15.00 US/$20.00 US overseas. Available in VHS format, and only in NTSC, from: Population Crisis Committee, Publications Dept., Suite 550, 1120 19th Street, N.W., Washington. D.C. 20036 USA.
• At a recent Global Environmental Investment Conference in New York, Prince Alfred von Liechtenstein, President of Center for the Study of the Future, emphasized the importance of local and regional economic development. He stressed the importance of developing local enterprises rather than relying on outside involvement as a guide for achieving sustainable development.
• World Information Transfer has opened the first Center for Environmental Sustainability Studies on 27 Chervonoarmiyska, Suite 22 in Kiev, Ukraine under the Direction of Dr. Andriy O. Demydenko, Chief of Environmental Education in the Ministry of Environment in Ukraine. The Center will focus on the study of the relationship between economic and political policy and the effect of these policies on all aspects of the environment. The Center will bring together leaders from government, business, education and the media to explore and discuss regional policy alternatives to achieve sustainable development. An aggressive program of information gathering and dissemination will be pursued through a comprehensive series of conferences, teleconferences and symposia, all of which will be focused on the search for solutions. WIT chose Eastern Europe as the first site for such a center because Eastern Europe has some unique characteristics which will make it an ideal “laboratory” for formulating environmentally sustainable policy, namely: Eastern European economies have elements of both free market economies and controlled economics; living standards are somewhere between those of the industrialized West and those of less developed countries; governmental institutions are evolving and hence offer unprecedented opportunities for innovative political and economic initiatives; finally, Eastern Europe represents, perhaps, the world’s best example of what unregulated economic growth can do to damage a regional environment. The Center will function as a forum for dialogue on economic, social and political policies that support environmental Sustainability in future development programs.
• The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has begun a new initiative to promote private sector involvement in basic education for the developing world. For example, Rotary Club International started a program in Zimbabwe for primary and secondary school teachers who need training in English. In Argentina, employees of local business go into primary level classrooms to teach business concepts directly to children. Other examples of such endeavors can be sent to UNDP’s Human Resources Group, Attn: Jafar Javan, One UN Plaza, DC1-2041, New York. NY 10017.
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