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Gaza Conflict’s Overlooked Impact: Environmental Devastation

The Silent Scourge of the Gaza Conflict: Environmental Devastation

As the dust settles on the wreckage of deserted towns, it’s not just the human toll of the war in Gaza that commands attention. The persistent conflict has also brought about serious environmental consequences, with vast amounts of carbon emissions being pumped into our delicate atmosphere.

War Takes Its Toll on the Environment

Beyond the tragic human losses, the Gaza war, which began last October when Israel responded to a Hamas attack, is also wreaking havoc on the local environment and impacting the world’s climate. As the stress of war accumulates, so too does the hefty carbon footprint.

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Unprecedented air pollution levels, polluted water, growing mounds of waste, and widespread suffering of the local wildlife are some of the pressing environmental challenges arising from the conflict. To add to these woes, the region’s struggles to effectively manage the waste are only worsening, given that a significant chunk of the population has been forced to cluster into small areas.

Despite the hardships, the human toll takes precedence, overshadowing the dire environmental effects left trailing in the wake of this conflict.

“Gaza could become an environmental disaster,” warns Jagan Chapagain, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).

Leading up to December 4th, the thick clouds of war saw the release of a staggering 281,000 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the combustion of 150,000 tons of coal, according to a recent study.

A Climate Footprint Hard to Ignore

The battle has left a sizeable climate footprint: carbon emissions from the first 60 days of the Gaza war surpass the annual emissions from 20 countries and territories identified as highly vulnerable to climate change.

But this is only the tip of the iceberg. The study’s authors emphasize that these estimates are conservative, as not all military operations are taken into account. Other potent greenhouse gases, such as methane, are also neglected. Hence, the report offers a snapshot of the climate footprint rather than a complete picture.

“The study calls for more segmentation on this front,” stress the authors.

Israel’s air and ground operations are attributed to the lion’s share of these emissions, generated primarily by aircraft, armored vehicles, and the manufacture and firing of ammunition. Interestingly, approximately half of these emissions are credited to American aircraft that deliver equipment to Israel.

The Demand for Greater Transparency

As the world becomes increasingly aware of the environmental and climate implications of military operations, demands for improved emission reporting and reductions are mounting. Many argue that, irrespective of the source, all emissions collectively contribute to the exacerbation of the current climate crisis.

“The atmosphere doesn’t care if the emissions come from someone defending themselves, making ice cream, or running a hospital,”says Patrick Bigger from Climate and Community think-tank in the USA.

As the conflict in Gaza persists, the silent, unseen traces of its impact on the environment will continue to prick our collective conscience. “If we are to deal with the climate crisis, we must better understand the sources of emissions”, concludes Bigger.

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