Of Course The Pentagon’s Emissions Are Higher Than Portugal’s – It’s A Bigger Organisation


Shock and horror – Horror! even – as it is revealed that the carbon emissions from the Pentagon are larger than those from Portugal. A complaint of mindboggling stupidity when we consider that the Pentagon, as it is being described, is a larger organisation than Portugal. But then, you know, expecting logic and numeracy about climate change is a bit of a forlorn hope, isn’t it?

The Pentagon emits more greenhouse gases than Portugal, study finds

Yes, obviously, who wouldn’t expect this?

The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said on Wednesday.

Of course, and?

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University. “There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions,” Crawford said.

Why would you think it wasn’t? Given that the Pentagon is about the size of the 55th country in the world?

To think this through for a moment. Emissions are determined by how many people, being how rich, using what technologies? That’s the basic insight which underlies all of our climate models in the first place so something we all should understand when discussing the subject.

OK, the Pentagon oversees 1.3 million troops, 800k reservists and Lord alone knows how many civilian workers. Let’s call it 2.5 million just for argument’s sake.

Portugal has some 10 million people. The workforce is about 5 million – 50% of the population is economically active, about right. And all the Pentagon’s people, as we’re counting them, are economically active. Or, we could double the number of employees to gain us the population living off the Pentagon to compare to Portugal’s 10 million population.

Then we want how rich. Portugal’s GDP per capita is about $23,000 a year. That of the US more like $59,000 a year.

So, we’ve an economic unit which has half the number of people who are more than twice as rich. And the smaller in people but each person much richer place has roughly similar emissions.

Hmm, surprise, eh?

Or one other way Pentagon budget is about $700 billion a year. Portugal’s GDP about $200 billion. Budget and GDP aren’t the same thing but still a useful yardstick.

So who is surprised the Pentagon’s emissions are higher than those of Portugal? The hard of thinking of course, or perhaps the ignorant. And while we can all be ignorant of many things it’s a bit odd to be releasing a report parading it, isn’t it?