Saturday

Iraq's Environment

Listen to "Iraq's Environment"

This episode is an analysis of the environmental impacts of the current war in Iraq. There are several major categories, each of which will be discussed. This episode is meant to be an overview of the rarely-discussed ecological situation in Iraq, rather than a persuasive piece towards one viewpoint or another. The entire episode will revolve around environmental issues--political and strategic issues and biases will not be included.

  • Negative Effects:
    • Oil Fires: Saddam lit oil wells on fire, resulting in extreme air pollution.
    • Oil Spills: the oil wells spilled into the surrounding ground and sea, ruining vast expanses of animal habitats.
    • Depleted Uranium: DU munitions used by Coalition forces have chemically wounded thousands of Iraqis and Americans.
    • War Machines: Military vehicles and structures wreak havoc through the fragile deserts of Western and Northern Iraq.
    • Munitions: Unexploded ordinances and explosion craters have wrecked acres and acres of potential farmland.
    • Water Pollution: Unnatural or unhealthy chemicals, such as oil and human biomass, have entered waterways in large quantities, thereby rendering them unusable.
    • Infrastructure Damage: The lack of leadership in Iraq means that significant environmental problems, such as broken sewage systems, never get fixed.
    • Fiscal Allocation: Funds allocated to defense could have been used to pursue environmentalist initiatives.
  • Positive Effects:
    • Iraq War is a major catalyst for the “alternative energies initiative”.
    • Saddam’s ecologically harmful policies will no longer devastate the Iraqi ecosystem.
    • Iraq’s relationship with the United Nations has improved, meaning that UN environmental agencies can now safely enter the region.
For more information, read:
Environmental Science by Richard Wright
The Gulf War Aftermath by Mohammed Sadiq
Desk Study on the Environment in Iraq by the United Nations Environment Program
The Iraq Quagmire by the Institute for Policy Studies
The Environment Consequences of the war in Iraq by the UK Green Party


Special thanks to: Captain Christopher Green, Corporal Trent Davis, and Master Sergeant Jonny Lung

Military History Podcast is sponsored by Armchair General Magazine