Iraq & Our Energy Future

This website was developed in May 2003 by students of Geography 378 (International Environmental Problems & Policy) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, to examine the connections between the Iraq War and the energy polices of the United States and the world community. The recent conflict in Iraq, and the aftermath of the 2003 invasion, has focused attention on global environmental issues in several ways.

First, recent wars in Iraq have been fought in a country with a delicate ecosystem and historic cultural sites. In this desert environment, the wars have generated a water crisis for the civilian population. The marshy environment of southern Iraq has also been drained by the former government, which also set fire to oil wells and trenches. 

Second, the munitions of war directed against Iraq possess distinct environmental risks. An example is the use of Depleted Uranium metal, which has generated controversy around the world, particularly in Iraq. The munitions, oil fires, and chemicals in Iraq’s wars may be contributed factors to Gulf War Syndrome, a term for symptoms reported both by U.S.veterans and by Iraqis themselves. Poor medical conditions in Iraq have been worsened by economic sanctions and by postwar humanitarian crisis

Third, the question of bio-chemical weapons has loomed over Iraq.Chemical weapons were used by both Iraqi and Iranian troops in the 1980s. The U.S. destruction of Iraqi weapons in 1991 also contaminated the air. Nuclear fears have also shaped the conflict, and not only in the effort to thwart Iraqi development of nuclear arms. Nuclear options have been explored to defeat Iraq, including the use of tactical “bunker-buster” nukes.

Fourth, militaries around the world use enormous amounts of resources and rack up numerous costs for global society. Wars are increasingly fought over natural resources such as oil, to feed industrial civilization’s thirst for an endless oil supply. The opening of new oil sources in the Caspian Basin was the theme of the Fall 2002 class website in this course.

One alternative to increased dependence on foreign oil is to explore renewable energies, which are environmentally cleaner and increasingly feasible in cost, particularly when combined with efforts to conserve energy. Only 8 percent of U.S. power is currently provided by renewable energy sources. Worldwide the share climbs to 14 percent. Appropriate energy can be generated from natural forces, such as the sun (with photovoltaic cells), wind, ocean tides, and geothermal heat. Fuel is also readily available in plant biomass and organic waste. Vehicles can be made to run on cleaner and more efficient fuels, such as hydrogen. Power plants can cogenerate electricity and heat, or use hydrogen fuel cells, and systems can be built to efficiently heat and cool buildings.

 With so many options available to turn toward renewable supplies of energy, our national and global society is still wedded to fossil fuels, a source of energy that is both finite and environmentally destructive. At current trends, known oil reserves will run out in 45 years. Conflicts over dwindling oil supplies also contribute to regional wars, which in turn use up or burn up more oil. Renewable energies are one way for a new generation to break this cycle.


Emily Sabrina  Rubin 
Kelly  David  Linda 
Matt  Adam Kyle 
Christy  Brandon  Julie
Jed  Chip  Joel 
Cora  Liz Adam 
Megan Claudia  Dan 
Matt  Jen  Brian 
Lisa Graham Neil 
Beth  Matthew Holly 
Erin  Tony Michelle 
Erin Ryan  Mai 


Eyewitnesses: Pro-war analysis: Media:
Electronic Iraq E-freedom News CBC (Canada)
Iraq Body Count White House Report Independent (UK)
Iraq Peace Team Project for a New American Century Guardian (UK)
Education for Peace in Iraq Center Bush State of the Union

Al Jazeera (Qatar)

CNN on Iraq scars

Voices in the Wilderness Veterans: Independent Media Center
Iraq Journal National Gulf War Resource Center Institute for Public Accuracy
Anti-war analysis: Veterans of Foreign Wars Background:
Common Dreams Veterans for Common Sense Middle East Research & Information Project
Counterpunch Veterans Against the Iraq War Iraq War Debate
AlterNet Veterans for Peace Open Democracy debate
Z Net
Refugee relief:
Biochemical weapons history
Wisconsin Peace Forum and PSA Mennonite Central Committee Gulf War v.2.0


Renewables: Solar: American Wind Energy Association
Earth Future International Solar Energy Society

Native Energy

Focus on Energy

World Resources Institute Solar Developments Other:
National Renewable Energy Laboratory PV-Web Geothermal Technologies Program
DoE Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Go Solar Introduction to Geothermal Energy
DoE Energy Information Administration OK Solar American Bioenergy Association
A Global Overview of Renewable Energy Sources

Fast Solar Energy Facts

DoE Office of Transportation Technologies
International Network for Sustainable Energy Solar Buzz DoE Clean Cities
American Council for Energy Efficient Economy Wind: Fuel Cell Information Center
World Energy Council Infinite Power  Energy Guide
Midwest Renewable Energy Association History of Wind Power Int’l Council for Local Environmental Initiatives
National Resources Defense Council
British Wind Power
Combined Heat and Power
Institute for the Analysis of Global Security Danish Wind Energy Energy Conservation and Renewables

The opinions expressed on this website are those of the students or their research sources, not of all Geography 378 students, the instructor, or of the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire and its departments.