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Impact of War in Ukraine

The environmental impact of the war in Ukraine.
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The primary goal of CEOBS is to increase awareness and understanding of the environmental and derived humanitarian consequences of conflicts and military activities.Visit CEOBS >

The short clips below, approximately one minute in length, highlight key points from the film that are relevant to the war in Ukraine and can be shared to remind the world about the drastic environmental consequences of the war.

The Environment is War’s Silent Casualty

01:02 Five key witnesses from the film testify to the deadly impact of war on the environment: the difficulty of cleaning up after a war; the major role the military plays in environmental outcomes; the failure to focus on what happens to trees and animals; the emphasis on armaments instead of valuable natural resources; and ignoring that the real threats to our security and preparedness are environmental, not military.

Care Shall Be Taken

01:21 A U.S. Army General reveals that contrary to the spirit of the 1949 Geneva convention, Protocol 1, that “Care shall be taken to protect the environment against long-term and severe damage,” in pursuing the 1999 war against Slobodan Milosevic, the US Army bombed for 78 days. They bombed structures containing toxic, carcinogenic materials that spilled into water systems leading into the Danube River. The general concluded, “It will take decades for the ecosystems to recover.”

The Legacy of War: Unexploded Ordinance

01:17 Among the most enduring and lethal legacies of modern warfare is the UXO, unexploded ordinance. UXO remains in the battlefield long after combat ceases, lying in wait for anything that comes into contact with it: animal, child, unwitting adult. The casualties of war are thus no longer confined to the combatants. The widespread existence of UXO, which effectively are land mines exploding on contact, makes a return to normal life, hazardous, and a mockery of the idea of a “ceasefire.”

Martin Luther King Jr. and the War on Poverty

01:22 Martin Luther King is shown here giving his seminal speech, “Beyond Vietnam,” at the New York Riverside Church, April 4, 1967, exactly one year prior to his assassination. Dr. King laments what he sees as the evisceration of promising work on poverty, a direct response to the build up of the war in Vietnam. In searing language, he says: war siphons away “men, and skills and money, like a gigantic, demonic, destructive suction tube.”

A Soldier’s Loss of Faith

01:22 Flying high above the Vietnamese countryside, a soldier sees farm lands that remind him of those in the small town in Illinois where he grew up as a child. He wonders how he would feel if this was happening to his corn fields, to his wheat and bean fields. In the end, he is so horrified by the wanton destruction of the land that he loses any faith he once had that the war was noble, that freedom and democracy were worth fighting for. The horror of war is brought home by images of naked and terrified children running down a road to escape from explosions going off behind them.

The Unique Vulnerability of Children

00:42 Against a background of a large crowd of children protesting against sanctions, an Australian physician describes the special needs of children that make them uniquely vulnerable to the hazards of war. They need good public health services, clean water, education, sanitation, and ample food—all of which are compromised in wartime. The physician cites a study by a Harvard Team looking at the impact of the Gulf war of 1991 on Iraqi children. The study found an excess of 50,000 to 70,000 deaths among these children.