That’s right — for most of this decade, for every dollar we’ve spent as a nation to fight climate change, we spent $88 on the military.
That factoid about Bush administration budget priorities sticks out the most in a thought-provoking new report by the Institute for Policy Studies entitled “Military vs. Climate Security: Mapping the Shift From the Bush Years to the Obama Era.”
President Obama is moving to reduce that discrepancy to 9:1 by next year, although the bulk of the spending on climate change is contained in a one-time stimulus funding package. Report author Miriam Pemberton argues that on a permanent basis, weapons systems should be cut so the money can be invested in research and adaptation to climate change.
She cites a study by the Political Economy Research Institute, funded by her liberal-leaning group and Women’s Action for New Directions:
$1 billion spent on weapons manufacture create(s) far fewer jobs (8,555) than equivalent amount spent on any other form of public investment, including health care (12,883), education (17,687), mass transit (19,795), or infrastructure/home weatherization (12,804), or from simply using the money for personal consumption (10,779).
The bottom line is that the fiscal shift recommended here from military to climate change investment will create far more jobs than it costs.
It’s an appropriate comparison when you consider that leading scientific thinkers on climate change compare the task ahead of this nation to what it faced to survive in World War II.
The best piece so far delivered on the new report comes from Grist.org’s Kate Sheppard under one of Grist’s trademark clever heds: “Get Off Defense.” :>)
Sheppard points out that even military analysts are beginning to look at climate change as a confounding and security-rattling threat to this country.
Report author Pemberton told Sheppard:
There are just no restraints whatsoever on military spending. The Pentagon has been given a blank check. There is an incredible infrastructure supporting unlimited military spending, and there certainly hasn’t been that infrastructure put in place to fund green technology.”