Remembrance day has always been a significant day in the calendar, even more so this year with the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. We should never take the peace and freedom that we experience today for granted. We have seen this year how quickly everything can fall apart as we did with the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
You might be thinking, why is the sustainability team publishing an article about remembrance day? We want to take a moment to breakdown the environmental impacts of war. There is no way we could talk about the social, economic, or human impacts of war giving it the justice it deserves. Environmental impacts are more in our comfort zone.
The natural environment has always been a tactical instrument in battles since the beginning of time. That why we get the iconic line “It’s over, Anakin. I have the high ground” in Star Wars episode III: Revenge of the Sith.
War forces people out of their homes, neighbourhoods and even countries. Not only does this create a refugee crisis like the one we are seeing today, but it also destroys habitat. A tank can easily steamroll over woodlands, grassland and wetlands rendering them useless. Afghanistan used to be covered in great swathes of forest, but conflict there has left less than 2% of the country covered in forest. This forest provided necessary soil stability and drainage in torrential rain. Deforestation and flooding has caused environmental degradation, that has led to only 6% of the 15% of agricultural land in Afghanistan being cultivated.
But the environmental impact that has had the most influence on society is the physical changes that war has to our land. In world war I, the construction of the trenches destroyed habitats and led to vast erosion that we can still find in the landscape today. Not only are the remains of trenches still seen across France, but the Lochnagar Crater can be seen through satellite imagery. The Zone Rouge was rightfully evacuated by the French government after World War 1. In 2004 German researchers found levels of up to 17% arsenic in the soil and water samples contained arsenic levels that were 300 times the tolerated amount.
How does any of this relate to Samsung, I hear you ask. Remembering those who have come before us is really important. Conflict is unfortunately not a thing of the past and we cannot deny that many of the things we take for granted have been fought for. I’m hoping that this article has helped you appreciate that the chain reaction of conflict spreads far further than human or economic impacts. So, when we pay our respects to those who fought for us, we also owe them a huge amount of gratitude for protecting our environment from further environmental catastrophes.