War is a very dirty business, environmentally as well as in all other aspects. Bombs used by most major militaries today, including the United States, contain cyclonite, a substance that may be a carcinogen. Bombing also releases particulates into the atmosphere which contribute to global warming. Worse than the direct effect on air pollution from the explosions of the bombs themselves are the indirect effects, which naturally vary depending on what target the bombs are aimed at. If you are trying to destroy an enemy oil refinery, for instance–such facilities were frequent targets of US airstrikes in the Vietnam War–the air pollution effects will be much worse than if you’re targeting a military installation that will not put huge billowing clouds of smoke into the atmosphere. Bombing also has environmental effects on the ground. For instance, destruction of water infrastructure in Afghanistan has led to a decline in the number of people with access to safe drinking water. Another interesting statistic from Afghanistan relates to birds: an important migratory route of Asian birds used to go right through Afghanistan, but heavy bombing and other military operations have drastically reduced the bird population by as much as 85%.
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