War & the Environment

War's Dirty Footprint
Harming Life • Heating our Planet
Chemical Warfare & Agent Orange

Dioxin-contaminated toxic defoliant Agent Orange was used to destroy the Vietnamese and adjacent Laotian forest cover and food crops. (This was in fact first-strike chemical warfare, in violation of the 1925 Geneva Convention against biological and toxin weapons warfare.) Dioxin persists in the environment, causing cancer, birth defects and many other diseases for generations.(9)

The Radioactive Legacy of War

Between 1946 and 1958, the US dropped more than sixty nuclear weapons on the people of the Marshall Islands, yielding ongoing high cancer rates for the Islanders. Cancer rates in the US rose with above-ground weapons testing in southern Nevada. Downwinders and their livestock were the hardest hit. The actor John Wayne developed cancer 8 years after filming at a highly radioactive location (10)

Depleted uranium (DU) has been used since the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Twice as heavy as lead, it is used for coating armor-piercing munitions and protective tank plating. It is very cheap because its raw material is radioactive waste. Some estimate that we have used over 1,000 tons of depleted uranium in Iraq. It explodes into dust upon impact. A 2010 study found ominously higher reported cancers (child leukemia, breast cancer, brain tumors, lymphoma) than expected, higher infant mortality post-2004 than in comparative Middle East countries, and an alarming change in sex ratio at birth, with much fewer boys.(11)

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The Sierra Club, a non-profit organization, is the nation’s longest standing volunteer driven environmental organization. Its purpose is to ‘explore, enjoy and protect the planet’. It does this by educating the public and influencing public policy decisions — legislative, legal, and electoral.

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