December 13, 2009

Military Spending and Global Warming

After the American Century Posting # 200

The climate conference has now reached the crucial stage, where money must be pledged by the rich nations to help the poorer nations develop without excessive CO2 emissions. The EU has put $10.6 billion on the table, offering it over a three year period. They have made the most generous pledge so far, which amounts to $3.53 billion per year. The amount needed is far greater and a subject of discussion.

To put these figures into perspective, consider what the world is spending on armaments: $1.4 trillion every year. Without even doing the math in detail, you can see that the nations of this world are spending more than 100 times as much on weapons as they are willing to spend on global warming. Time to get the priorities right.

The two biggest CO2 polluters, the United States and China, also have the world's two largest military budgets. The US is by far the largest, at $602 billion, while China "only" spends $84.9 billion.

Some of the "poor" nations who want to be paid for curbing their CO2 growth are also spending large sums on arms. The United States spends about 4% of its gross national product on its Defense Department, far too much in my view, but a smaller percentage than some others. Angola uses 5.7%, Armenia 6.5%, Macedonia 6%. Saudi Arabia uses 10% of its budget for the military, which is about $38 billion.

In the next week, when the discussion of global warming focuses largely on money, keep these figures in mind. I suggest that no "poor" nation that spends more than 2% of its GNP on the military should be given any funds to help with global warming. And I suggest that no nation spending more than 3% of its GNP on the military should be taken seriously when it says it cannot afford to pay more to solve this problem.

This posting is #200 on After the American Century