19. Weapons Environmental Tax

All military weapons or munitions that have any measurable or significant negative environmental effect when used (such as bullets, bombs, and almost everything else), even if such an effect is merely inert litter, should be assessed an environmental tax based on the degree of their negative environmental impacts. Almost by definition, such munitions will ultimately end up as litter in the environment.

Assess Tax On Purchase, Refund If Necessary

Ideally, these taxes should only be imposed when these weapons are used in war, during practice, or lost or destroyed by accident resulting in munitions polluting the environment (due to plane crashes, ships sinking, etc.). However, such records would be too difficult to maintain, so imposing this tax upon purchase would be much easier. Then, the military purchaser could receive a full refund of this tax when they decommission and recycle those weapons that were never used and properly disposed. This way the military would have a small economic incentive to use less polluting weapons when they become available.

Tax Components

Some factors to be considered when determining the proper level of the environmental tax for each weapon or munitions should include the absolute quantity of pollution released by the weapon, the scale of environmental contamination (esp. what fraction of all contaminants has been injected into the ground and/or water, with less of an emphasis on air pollution), persistence of each pollutant in the environment, harmfulness or toxicity of each pollutant to the biosphere, etc. Every part of the weapon/munitions should be considered, including chemicals (and their common chemical descendants in the natural environment), explosion gas products, shrapnel, and any other debris directly originating from the munition. This tax could be itemized for each pollutant (regardless of weapon type) so that the military knows exactly how much each weapon will be taxed and how such a tax breaks down per component. For example, if one munition has 2 ounces of mercury, 10 ounces of lead, and 50 pounds of steel, and assuming that the tax for mercury is set at $10 per ounce, and for lead it is set at $5 per ounce and steel’s tax is .10&cent per pound, it could be determined that the total environmental tax for that weapon would be $75. These tax rates could obviously be refined and updated as new information warrants. Even pollutants like steel, though not really chemically harmful to the environment, does litter the landscape with often sharp shrapnel and so should be charged a small environmental tax. Even though the same weapon may have significantly different environmental effects depending on the type of environment in which it is used, the differences being essentially wet or dry environments, only one tax rate should be applied to each pollutant for simplicity’s sake.

Benefits of This Tax

Apart from the clear environmental benefits, an additional significant benefit to such a policy is that this would indicate to our enemies and others that we are interested in minimizing the long-term negative environmental effects of war and that we are willing to take significant measures to protect their environment. Environmentally friendly weapons would send one, if any, positive message that an enemy could receive from its opponent during warfare, working to soften the rage, to various degrees, that an enemy population would have against its opponent.


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