Israel-Hamas, the war also ‘kills’ the planet: 280 thousand tons of CO2 produced

Data collected in a study published by the Social Science Research Network

Wars not only produce death and destruction, but also contribute significantly to climate warming. In the first two months of war in Gazait is estimated that they were generated polluting emissions equivalent to 281,315 tonnes of CO2, as if 150 thousand tons of coal had been burned. The data, writes the Guardian, were collected in a study by American and British researchers, published by the Social Science Research Network. They are numbers, it is highlighted, which exceed the annual emissions of around twenty of the countries most at risk from the effects of climate change.

Military planes, rockets and bullets: what pollutes the most

Almost all of the pollution was caused by the Israeli military response to the massacre perpetrated by Hamas on 7 October. The data includes the CO2 produced by military aircraft flights Israelis and the emissions caused by production and the explosion of bombs, artillery shells and rockets. About half of the emissions can be attributed to at least 200 American cargo flights that brought 10,000 tons of military supplies to Israel by December 4. The flights alone have released 133,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, which is how much pollutes the island of Grenada in a year. The rockets fired by Hamas against Israel generated 713 tons of CO2, like 300 tons of coal.

“This study is just a snapshot of the wider footprint of the war, a partial picture of the massive carbon emissions and toxic pollutants that will remain long after the war is over,” says Benjamin Neimark, of Queen Mary University of London, one of the co-authors of the research.

Reconstruction will also weigh on the planet

Even when the conflict is over, there will be consequences for the climate. The reconstruction of around 100 thousand buildings in Gaza will generate the equivalent of at least 30 million tonnes of CO2, how much New Zealand produces in a year. Without forgetting the pollution produced before: the underground network of tunnels built by Hamas, 500 km long, led to 176 thousand tons of greenhouse gas emissions, more than the island of Tonga emits. The construction of the 65 km long barrier that Israel had built on the Gaza border contributed 240 thousand tons of CO2, as much as the entire Central African Republic in one year.

The data highlights a broader problem, that of the climate cost of military activity. Data in this field is kept secret and is not taken into account in negotiations at the annual UN climate conferences. “This research helps us understand the immense magnitude of military emissions, to prepare for war, to carry out war, to rebuild after war. Armed conflicts push humanity closer to the precipice of climate catastrophe“, notes David Boyd, UN special rapporteur for human rights and the environment.