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Throughout history, the consequences of war can be seen through a plethora of effects. Before,

during, and after every war, there are traces of its damages left behind. The effect of war on culture and

humanity are evident, but war does not only effect the people who are involved, but also the in environment

where it takes place. Inspired by an article written by Brian Lysaght of the Edmonton Journal, titled

“Unexploded Bombs Threaten London’s Olympic Site,” this essay is intended to discuss the current effects

of war on the environment. Remnants of battles in times past still litter the populated past grounds of war,

and though it is too late now to prevent the bombs from landing in London, it is society’s job to sift through

the land and deal with the problem as quickly and efficiently as possible, and also join together and help

prevent future warfare that resembles that of World War II. However, unexploded bombs are not the only

modern issue caused by war’s effect on the environment. Countries such as Afghanistan and Japan are also

suffering from war damages on their environment. Afghanistan is suffering the loss of natural resources,

while Japan’s environment still contains traces of the toxic radiation caused from a war that took place

decades ago.

London has been chosen as the future location for the 2012 Olympics. Unfortunately, Britain has a

major problem of unexploded bombs inhabiting the city. (Lysaght) This is posing a major threat to both the

general public that live in the vicinity of these weapons, but also the massive amounts of people that will

flood London when Olympic time comes round again. Unexploded bombs left unsearched for after the

chaotic aftermath of war, put many lives in jeopardy. This problem can only be faced, with a crew of highly

trained bomb experts and with much time and preparation. Not only is a problem like this time consuming,

it is also financially draining, the cost of the 2012 Olympics, already costing a monstrous amount of over

$19 billion . (Lysaght)

In the case of both Afghanistan and Japan and their issues with war’s toll on the environment, the

issues are less easily solved, as the damage is irreversible. Afghanistan, is an example of a war torn country,

who similar to the case of London and the unexploded bombs, was left in a frenzied war state did not focus

their attention to the environment. The lack of concern focused on the environment left Afghanistan

vulnerable to the group of smugglers who rapidly reduced Afghanistan’s forest by half, and slaughtered and

captured Afghanistan’s endangered wildlife. (Roberts) Japan’s issue is unique, but also an issue caused my

warfare tactics. Japan’s environment and populations continues to suffer the effect of World War II bombs,
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that not only killed a vast number of people and the cluster bombs that still scattered amongst Japanese soil,

but also poisoned agriculture and water, and spread radiation throughout Japan’s land. (Ezler) The issues of

Afghanistan and Japan, must both be faced with emphasis on prevention of such events in the future, and

more focus on the environment during times of war and during times of peace.

This essay takes the stance that the war effects on the environment are still a crucial issue amidst

current events, citing the major problem of World War II weaponry left on the future Olympic grounds, and

the environmental issues of Japan and Afghanistan. This essay also takes the position that in order for these

issues to be resolved, society must unite together to try and prevent such events from happening again,

which could be through stricter legislation on environments, the banning of certain types of war fare, and

conducting and spending more money on thoroughly removing weaponry left on past war grounds in order

to protect the populates of those areas.

According to London Online, the city of London plays how to over 8 million people, and

according to Lysaght’s research London is also home to an amazingly high amount of unexploded bombs

and other various war fare. With just the short time period of three years, about 8, 500 small explosives had

been recovered in the United Kingdom. The area of London itself has over 5,000 potential unexploded

bomb locations. (Lysaght) There have been numerous occasions on which citizens were forced to evacuate

due to unexploded bomb sightings. Unexploded bombs have been found in the most dangerous of locations,

near areas such as Bethel Green where families were forced to evacuate in May after a World War II bomb

was found in a nearby construction site, or when in June of 2006, an unexploded bomb was found near City

Airport.(Lysaght) War also leaves behind its mark in the land itself. In certain areas of London, the soil is

contaminated with toxic substances such as ammonia, diesel, and arsenic. (Lysaght) When clearing the

2012 Olympic site, workers found grenades and pieces of various battle equipment throughout the region.

(Lysaght) In the United Kingdom, bombs have even been found near very busy locations such as airports,

where many could potentially die.( Lysaght).

Afghanistan, has suffered decades of war since the latter of the 1970’s, and because of this they

have also suffered environmentally. With the constant battles, many citizens fled the country, and left the

area unprotected. During the fighting, smugglers were able to strip the land of its rare wildlife and its

natural forest. (Roberts) The focus on the recovering from war, led to very little light shown on the
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environmental issues. Afghanistan was home to endangered species such as the snow leopard and falcon.

As the battles carried on, smugglers were able to trap about 1,000 of the exorbitant birds, and sell them in

nearby Pakistan. The fate for snow leopards, was more dismal. Afghanistan had 500 snow leopards, and

this number has dropped to only about 80-120.( Roberts) The snow leopards fate is evident, as their furs

can be purchased in one of Kabul’s many fur shops. (Roberts) The forests of Afghanistan have suffered the

war, by being reduced by half, from illegal logging operations and of course, the damage that is bound to be

caused by a fleeing population.(Roberts) The chaos of war also took a toll on Afghanistan’s water sources.

With the focus on war and survival, there was no focus on safety and health measures. The lack of concern

towards the spread of bacteria and land fill location, caused a lot of Afghanistan’s water supply to become

contaminated and therefore no longer potable.( Adley)

Japan has similar issues, with unexploded bombs littering their small islands. Cluster bombs are

still left amongst the residents of Japan. These victims of these fatal death contraption have been 95

civilians.(Japan Economic Newswire) Even years after wars have ended and issues have been resolved,

citizens are still being harmed by dud munitions. Citizens have also experienced more repercussions from

the post-war environment. The radiation given off from the atomic bombs that hit the cities of Nagasaki and

Hiroshima, caused major issues in Japan environment. The explosions gave off radiated particles and

caused the air to be filled with toxic debris. The explosions caused radioactive particles to pollute the water

sources, and desolated Japan’s rice fields and other agricultural resources.(Ezler) The radioactive matter

also effected the citizens who survived the bombings, by causing them to get cancer even years after the

war, and also effecting the health of their future offspring and even farther down the generation line.( Ezler)

In the future, measures must be taken to preclude further damage caused to the environment by

war. Environmental issues caused by war have proved to be a modern battle, that must be faced. As seen in

the present issues in the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, and Japan, war takes a toll on the environment and

it is society’s job to try and undo the damage as efficiently as possible. Environmental damage is

sometimes irreversible, but none the less focus needs to be shone on clearing up the damage. Most

importantly, for the protection of future generations, the impacting damages of war on the environment

need to be focused on immediately to prevent anymore suffering, whether it be from loss of resources, or

contamination of resources, or even the weaponry left over from wars that took place decades ago.
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