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Militarization and the Environment

Increasing trend of worldwide militarization has been contributing to the growing warming of our planet. Hence, ice and glaciers have been melting into water, overflowing seas and oceans. This phenomenon makes coastal areas and coastal inhabitants across the globe vulnerable to sea-level rise.

[Bahauddin Foizee | Oped Column Magazine]

The continuous environmental deterioration in many parts of the world has become the new trend of our planet’s environment, causing the coastal areas across the globe to gradually submerge under water. While such environmental deterioration is an adverse effect of global warming, the phenomenon of global warming is in turn caused by several contributory factors, including the increasing trend of worldwide militarization.

Militarization & the harmful gases

Worldwide military rivalries are pushing states to thrust for unprecedented and unchecked militarization of different geopolitical hot spots of our globe. Such rivalries are also pushing the states to propel for producing, acquiring and using destructive weapons and other military hardware for conflicts and wars.

Such production and utilization of military hardware, including weaponry and military vehicles, require heavy consumption of fuel energy like coal and oil.

The consumption or burning of fossil fuels release millions of tons of harmful and poisonous gases into the air that had been previously locked up in coal, oil and natural gas for millions of years. Such harmful gases include carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, hydrocarbons and sulphur dioxide – all of which are immensely injurious to our planet’s environment.

Coastal areas are the major victims

The major environmental impact of growing worldwide militarization is the gradual rise in average global temperatures. Rise in global temperatures causes melting of mountain-ice and polar glaciers, making coastal areas across the globe vulnerable to the sea-level rise.

Because of the rise in sea-levels, many coastal areas around the globe have been gradually submerging under water. Perhaps it will not take decades for the existing global coastlines to disappear, turning millions of inhabitants living in those coastal areas into climate refugees.

An illustration

Here is an illustration of the connection among militarization, sea-level rise and disappearance of coastal areas into water:

The Syrian regime’s use of barrel and chemical bombs on civilian targets has been, in effect, releasing the harmful gases into the air, causing rise in temperatures. Similarly, harmful gases are being released into the air by the artillery firing and missile attacks in Yemen and Ukraine, which too causes rise in temperature. Such rise in global temperatures causes the melting of the polar ice and glaciers in Arctic, Antarctic and Himalayas, making the coastal areas in Bangladesh, Myanmar and Thailand vulnerable to the rising sea level.

Already Bangkok (Thailand) has been sinking 10 centimetres every year, placing the city at risk of submerging into the sea within a matter of few decades. There is the possibility that 6-8% of ‘flood-prone’ Bangladesh may be submerged under water by 2030. As for Myanmar, a substantial portion of the country’s coastal areas is predicted to be submerged under water by 2050.


The borders between states are unable to stop the effects of environmental deterioration from spreading from one country to another and from one region to another. Thus, the environmental impacts of militarization in one part of the globe easily reach the far away victim countries in another part of the globe, making the weather conditions of the victim countries deteriorate severely. Thus, the wars around the globe have been seriously impacting the natural environments of not only the war-torn countries, but also of the other countries around the globe.

German scholars from Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PICIR) warned that if incentives of the global warming are not reduced immediately worldwide, a series of unstoppable events will be triggered, causing dramatic rise in sea-levels and total annihilation of coastal areas inhabited by millions of people.

Therefore, taking the PICIR’s warning into consideration, it may well be suggested that the countries, which are the major victims of environmental deterioration, should make sure that the increasing trend of worldwide militarization is reduced, since militarization is one of the major incentives of global warming. Otherwise, millions of coastal inhabitants around the globe could face a survival threat.

Bahauddin Foizee is an international affairs analyst & columnist, and regularly writes on greater Asia Pacific, Indian Oceanic region and greater Middle East geopolitics. He — infrequently — writes on environment & climate change, social awareness, law and refugee scenario.

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