ain't nothin like an environmental catastrophe cos an environmental catastrophe don't stop
Look on the bright side - the suffocating hoods
we stick on people's heads are green!
St. Clair and Frank:
The first Gulf War had a horrific effect on the environment, as CNN reported in 1999, "Iraq was responsible for intentionally releasing some 11 million barrels of oil into the Arabian Gulf from January to May 1991, oiling more than 800 miles of Kuwaiti and Saudi Arabian coastline. The amount of oil released was categorized as 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska and twice as large as the previous world record oil spill. The cost of cleanup has been estimated at more than $700 million."
During the build up to George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, Saddam loyalists promised to light oil fields afire, hoping to expose what they claimed were the U.S.'s underlying motives for attacking their country: oil. The U.S. architects of the Iraq war surely knew this was a potential reality once they entered Baghdad in March of 2003. Hostilities in Kuwait resulted in the discharge of an estimated 7 million barrels of oil, culminating in the world's largest oil spill in January of 1991. The United Nations later calculated that of Kuwait's 1,330 active oil wells, half had been set ablaze. The pungent fumes and smoke from those dark billowing flames spread for hundreds of miles and had horrible effects on human and environmental health. Saddam Hussein was rightly denounced as a ferocious villain for ordering his retreating troops to destroy Kuwaiti oil fields.
However, the United States military was also responsible for much of the environmental devastation of the first Gulf War. In the early 1990s the U.S. drowned at least 80 crude oil ships to the bottom of the Persian Gulf, partly to uphold the U.N.'s economic sanctions against Iraq. Vast crude oil slicks formed, killing an unknown quantity of aquatic life and sea birds while wrecking havoc on local fishing and tourist communities.
On the second day of President Bush's invasion of Iraq it was reported by the New York Times and the BBC that Iraqi forces had set fire to several of the country's large oil wells. Five days later in the Rumaila oilfields, six dozen wellheads were set ablaze. The dense black smoke rose high in the southern sky of Iraq, fanning a clear signal that the U.S. invasion had again ignited an environmental tragedy. Shortly after the initial invasion the United Nations Environment Program's (UNEP) satellite data showed that a significant amount of toxic smoke had been emitted from burning oils wells. This smoldering oil was laced with poisonous chemicals such as mercury, sulfur and furans, which can causes serious damage to human as well as ecosystem health.
According to Friends of the Earth, the fallout from burning oil debris, like that of the first Gulf War, has created a toxic sea surface that has affected the health of birds and marine life. One area that has been greatly impacted is the Sea of Oman, which connects the Arabian Sea to the Persian Gulf byway of the Strait of Hormuz. This waterway is one of the most productive marine habitats in the world. In fact the Global Environment Fund contends that this region "plays a significant role in sustaining the life cycle of marine turtle populations in the whole North-Western Indo Pacific region." Of the world's seven marine turtles, five are found in the Sea of Oman and four of those five are listed as "endangered" with the other listed as "threatened".
The future indeed looks bleak for the ecosystems and biodiversity of Iraq, but the consequences of the U.S. military invasion will not only be confined to the war stricken country. The Gulf shores, according to BirdLife's Mike Evans, is "one of the top five sites in the world for wader birds, and a key refueling area for hundreds of thousands of migrating water birds." The U.N. Environment Program claims that 33 wetland areas in Iraq are of vital importance to the survival of various bird species. These wetlands, the U.N. claims, are also particularly vulnerable to pollution from munitions fallout as well as oil wells that have been sabotaged.
Here's Enviros Against War's call for a "Green Geneva."
I should also note DU takes up a big chunk of the St. Clair/Frank piece; there's been plenty of evidence but not enough causality to pin this cancer epidemic to DU exclusively. I have to play journalist here and err on the side of balance until then, though it doesn't mean it's not something deadly serious that requires our utmost attention.