For ages, war has been known to have direct negative impacts on the environment and its inhabitants, today we would be highlighting few adverse effects of war on the environment;

1) Release of Pollutants:

The first time I came across "Agent Orange" in a movie, I thought it was an ingredient for a fruit drink or on a more serious note, a secret gangster name. Apparently, it's the name of a toxic chemical in form of a tactical herbicide used by the United States military during the Vietnam war to clear vegetation. Not only vegetations were affected during the war, short-term exposure of humans to the active ingredient of Agent Orange, Dioxin, resulted in many health conditions like darkening of the skin, liver problems and a severe acne-like skin disease called chloracne. Dioxin is also linked to type 2 diabetes, immune system dysfunction, bladder cancer, nerve disorders, hypothyroidism, muscular dysfunction, hormone disruption and heart disease.

2) Water and Soil Contamination:

Environmental degradation occurs when explosive remnants of war tend to contaminate water sources and make the water unfit for domestic use, contaminate the soil, causing it to become toxic to wildlife, plants and organisms that inhabit the soil.

The displacement of people during and after war also causes a strain on available water and land resources. During or after war when people are compelled to migrate and settle in a new area, mass movement of people have detrimental effects on the environment; widespread deforestation, soil erosion, open defecation, indiscriminate hunting, to mention but a few.

The limited natural resources can also be hoarded and exploited to sustain war economies.

"In Fao, south of Basra, Iraq, people blame their water and farming problems on the felling of date palms for military purposes during the Iran-Iraq war." - International Committee of the Red Cross 

3) Climate change:

Activities of war have adverse impacts on climate change. During a war, extensive amounts of greenhouse gases are produced. These greenhouse gases contribute to anthropogenic climate change, pollution, and cause resource depletion, among other environmental impacts.

"The interventions of war not only come with a high cost to life, but to the environment too. The Cost of Wars Project found the total emissions from war-related activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Syria to be estimated at more than 400 million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide alone." - US Military Pollution 


International Committee of the Red Cross. (2020, July 9). Seven things you need to know about climate change and conflict. International Committee of the Red Cross. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from

US military pollution: The world's biggest climate change enabler: - past: Present: Future. Earth.Org - Past | Present | Future. (2021, November 12). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from

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