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Why Is The World Willing To Spend On Arms But Not On Environment?

Image Source: nato, worldwildlife

Reality check

Temperature worldwide is increasing every year. The vicious problem imposed by global warming is looming large as it is evident from the climate change we are witnessing. Yet there is barely any urgency about the impending horror that global warming poses to our very existence. Big economies are more forthcoming in spending many billions of dollars on defense and arms that can only accelerate the destruction of mankind.


Defense expenditure of the world

India is one of the fastest developing nations of the world, is the sixth largest military spender in 2015. India is facing acute problems of temperature change, low annual rainfall, severe drought and as per the latest report from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India has spent $51.3 billion in 2015 as its defense expenditure. Over a ten-year period from 2006-15, this represents a 43 per cent jump. India is also ahead of countries like France, Germany and Israel who happen to be among its top arms suppliers. USA tops the chart spending $597.5 billion, followed by China ($145.8 billion), Saudi Arabia ($81.8 billion), UK ($56.2 billion) and Russia ($51.6 billion).


Global Warming is real

On one hand, large-scale expenditure on arms, artilleries, and fighter jets are being carried out, while on the other hand, the global warming is altering the earth’s climate system, including its land, atmosphere, oceans, and ice, in far-reaching ways.  Evidence shows that 2000 to 2009 was hotter than any other decade in at least the past 1,300 years. The increasing number of droughts, devastating storms, floods we are witnessing today is attributed to global warming. And according to the National Climate Assessment, human influences are the number one cause of global warming, especially the carbon pollution we cause by burning fossil fuels and also compounding the impact by destroying forests which serve as the lungs of the earth. The warming is affecting the lives of billions of people and posing severe risks to the health of humans. Not only humans, it is taking a toll on animals also.  A 2015 study showed that vertebrate species—animals with backbones, like fish, birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles—are disappearing 114 times faster than they should be, a phenomenon that has been linked to climate change, pollution, and deforestation. It has been estimated that by 2100, our oceans will be one to four feet higher, threatening coastal systems and low-lying areas, including entire island nations and the world’s largest cities, including New York, Los Angeles, and Miami as well as Mumbai, Sydney, and Rio de Janeiro.


No money to tackle climate change

Global investment in climate change went to at USD $359 billion in 2012. This figure falls far short of what is actually needed. The International Energy Agency projects that an additional investment of USD 5 trillion is required by 2020 for clean energy alone, to limit warming to two degrees Celsius. However, the gap is likely wider: The World Bank projects we are on a path to four degree Celsius warming. Thus, it is very clear that not even 10 per cent of money required to be spent on environment protection, is actually spent. Whereas there has been no shortage of enthusiasm for governments to spend on defense or arms much to the delight of the arms industry. Countries like Costa Rica, Saint Lucia, Mauritius, Haiti either don’t have any armed forces or have limited military forces. They don’t require the huge supply of arms and ammunitions to prove their worth.


Let us get our priorities right

We as a human race should consider all the options on the table to settle issues between nations diplomatically and focus on the immediate issues at the earliest. No issue could be of paramount importance than global warming and climate change which threatens the very survival of human race. Besides the environment, countries should incorporate more of their expenditure in health, education sectors. India ranks 130 out of 188 in Human Development Index. We are bordering on the line of no return, which once crossed any efforts by the global society to reverse the effects of global warming will be futile. It is high time we start thinking, discussing and debating about ways we could counter global warming. It affects us, it will affect us, it is “us” who have to get the priorities right and ensure our future generations live in a world we inherited.

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