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.
GEOGRAPHY 378 STUDENTS, SPRING 2003
IRAQ WAR LINKS & MAPS
|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|
||Biochemical weapons history|
|Wisconsin Peace Forum and PSA||Mennonite Central Committee||Gulf War v.2.0|
RENEWABLE ENERGY LINKS
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.