Modern warfare can cause greater devastation to our environment compared to the weapons used in previous wars like in World War I and II, Vietnam War, Kosovo War and Gulf War. The progression of this dangerous warfare from the chemical to nuclear weapons has over the time increased stress to our environment. The world has witnessed the invention of dangerous weapons of mass destruction which can cause significant environmental destruction. Other than the loss of human life, the first one to suffer is our natural resources such as wild animals and forests. Nuclear warfare is known to have direct and indirect environmental effects. Also, geospheric or atmospheric disturbances as a result of weapons can cause changes to the weather and climate.
Military campaigns use large quantities of a modern weapon and a fraction of these weapons do not detonate properly, which means they leave unexploded weapons to our environment. This creates a very serious chemical hazard that can cause physical injuries to the civilians population and negative environmental effects. Such weapons include the Russian medieval weapons, which can cause far-reaching effects to our environment if we don’t take serious measures to save our environment.
Testing of nuclear weapons has been done in different locations such as New Mexico, Bikini Atoll, Novaya Zemlya, Marshall Islands and Mururoa Atoll, among others. U.S. government carried out a study on environmental impact caused by testing these weapons and also post-war effects of radioactive isotopes. They found elements of sr-90 were present in the human body through the food chain. Another study has been done on the effect of uranium in modern weapons on the long-term health of human beings. The findings showed that uranium exposure can affect our brain, kidney, liver, and heart, among other body organs.
Although ecological disturbances as result of conflicts have been occurring for many centuries, modern-day weapons have made the impact even more severe. A good example is the Gulf War that occurred in 1991, which left a huge environmental effect due to depleted uranium weapons. These weapons commonly referred as DU are used by powerful countries to penetrate the enemy tanks among other targets, but these weapons have potential health risks due to uranium exposure.
Another serious environmental consequence is the degradation of infrastructure where basic services such water supply systems are destroyed. A more serious case is where public water systems are contaminated with bacteria as result of war conflicts. It becomes difficult for civilians to access safe drinking water. Also, the destruction of forests by the military machinery and warfare has caused a serious environmental impact. Military hardware and explosives have disrupted the ecosystem by causing deforestation, soil erosion, and habitat destruction.
Use of chemical agents has also led to suffering among the civilian population. A striking example was the use of the famous agent orange in Vietnam war and now there is an allegation that chemical agents are used in Syrian War. In Vietnam, the chemical agent was used to destroy forest vegetation cover in order to expose the enemy. The impact of that chemical agent was quite severe that crops were also destroyed too. In addition to environmental effects, humans were seriously affected by that chemical agent. Many suffered skin problems, lung cancer, birth defects, spontaneous abortion, and chloracne, among other diseases.