The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War

The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War

Charting the Rise and Fall of U.S. Military Emissions

By Neta C. Crawford

How the Pentagon became the world's largest single greenhouse gas emitter and why it's not too late to break the link between national security and fossil fuel consumption.

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Summary

How the Pentagon became the world's largest single greenhouse gas emitter and why it's not too late to break the link between national security and fossil fuel consumption.

The military has for years (unlike many politicians) acknowledged that climate change is real, creating conditions so extreme that some military officials fear future climate wars. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Defense—military forces and DOD agencies—is the largest single energy consumer in the United States and the world's largest institutional greenhouse gas emitter. In this eye-opening book, Neta Crawford traces the U.S. military's growing consumption of energy and calls for a reconceptualization of foreign policy and military doctrine. Only such a rethinking, she argues, will break the link between national security and fossil fuels.

The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War shows how the U.S. economy and military together have created a deep and long-term cycle of economic growth, fossil fuel use, and dependency. This cycle has shaped U.S. military doctrine and, over the past fifty years, has driven the mission to protect access to Persian Gulf oil. Crawford shows that even as the U.S. military acknowledged and adapted to human-caused climate change, it resisted reporting its own greenhouse gas emissions.

Examining the idea of climate change as a “threat multiplier” in national security, she argues that the United States faces more risk from climate change than from lost access to Persian Gulf oil—or from most military conflicts. The most effective way to cut military emissions, Crawford suggests provocatively, is to rethink U.S. grand strategy, which would enable the United States to reduce the size and operations of the military.

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$32.95 T ISBN: 9780262047487 392 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 49 b&w illus.

Endorsements

  • “In this important and meticulously researched book, Crawford untangles the complex relationship between the military and its dependence on fossil fuels, warning that the United States faces greater risk from climate change than from lost access to oil—or from most military conflicts.”

    Linda J. Bilmes

    Harvard University; co-author of The Three Trillion Dollar War

  • “Crawford exposes the self-reinforcing cycle of fossil fuel dependency and vast military deployments to ensure its availability. Without a radical shift in traditional military thinking and clear understanding of 'ecological security,' America—indeed the world—will never meet its climate goals.”

    Jerry Brown

    Governor of California, 1975–83 and 2011–19

  • “A penetratingly revelatory account of how choices made about industrialization and about militarization feed each other through iterative positive feedbacks that Crawford labels a 'deep cycle.'  Why aren't our politicians serious about climate change?  Here is a big reason why.”

    Henry Shue

    University of Oxford; author of The Pivotal Generation

  • “Crawford's careful study provides pathways to decreasing US military spending and reorienting the economy to more economically productive activities; heeding her informed advice could also free us to spend fewer anxious nights worrying about the next war and the next heatwave.”

    Bill McKibben

    Middlebury College; author of The Flag, the Cross, and the Station Wagon

  • “A uniquely important contribution to national security studies. For the Pentagon, there is no debate about whether climate change exists, but how gravely it will magnify existing threats to security and destabilize human life.”

    Jessica Stern

    Boston University; author of Terror in the Name of God