“Air Show Fuels Climate Crisis,” read a huge banner hung up on the sidewalk of the freeway by these grey-haired men and women, all members of the Veterans For Peace (VFP), who also handed out flyers and stickers saying “U.S. Militarism Fuels Climate Crisis” to drivers.
“We feel that the air show is a gratuitous use of the military when it’s unnecessarily polluting our skies,” Gary Butterfield, a Vietnam War veteran, explained. “We are here in order to get not only the military’s attention, but also the attention of our fellow citizens in San Diego.”
Butterfield noted that the U.S. military is the world’s single largest institutional consumer of fossil fuels and the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, according to a research released by Boston University in 2019.
The research, conducted by Neta C. Crawford, professor and chair of political science at Boston University and co-director of the Costs of War project at Brown and Boston universities, said that from fiscal year 1975 to fiscal year 2018, total U.S. military greenhouse gas emissions were more than 3,685 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent.
“While only a portion of U.S. total emissions, U.S. military emissions are, in any one year, larger than the emissions of many countries,” the research said.
In 2017, for example, the Pentagon’s total greenhouse gas emissions (installations and operations) were greater than the greenhouse gas emissions of some entire industrialized countries, such as Sweden, Denmark and Portugal and also greater than all CO2 emissions from U.S. production of iron and steel, according to the research.
Moreover, Butterfield suggested the world should be made aware of the close link between the climate crisis and militarism.
“Militarism has a profound effect on the climate crisis, and people in this country aren’t really aware of it, particularly since military emissions have been overlooked and undercounted,” he said.
VFP gathered hundreds of endorsements from organizations and prominent individuals worldwide for an open letter to U.S. climate envoy John Kerry, saying his work should include addressing the U.S. military’s role in the climate crisis.
“More and more people are starting to think about it and that’s what we want people to think about it, and engage in a dialogue about what we can do together to solve this issue. The climate crisis isn’t gonna stop because there’s a conflict or a war somewhere. It’s relentless,” Butterfield said.
Learn more about protests against the Miramar Air Show, supported by many community, climate, faith and peace groups in San Diego, from San Diego Veterans For Peace.