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Hidden carbon costs of the 'everywhere war' : logistics, geopolitical ecology, and the carbon boot‐print of the US military.

Belcher, O. and Bigger, P. and Neimark, B. and Kennelly, C. (2020) 'Hidden carbon costs of the 'everywhere war' : logistics, geopolitical ecology, and the carbon boot‐print of the US military.', Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers., 45 (1). pp. 65-80.


This paper examines the US military's impact on climate by analysing the geopolitical ecology of its global logistical supply chains. Our geopolitical ecology framework interrogates the material‐ecological metabolic flows (hydrocarbon‐based fuels, water, sand, concrete) that shape geopolitical and geoeconomic power relations. We argue that to account for the US military as a major climate actor, one must understand the logistical supply chain that makes its acquisition and consumption of hydrocarbon‐based fuels possible. Our paper focuses on the US Defense Logistics Agency – Energy (DLA‐E), a large yet virtually unresearched sub‐agency within the US Department of Defense. The DLA‐E is the primary purchase‐point for hydrocarbon‐based fuels for the US military, as well as a powerful actor in the global oil market. After outlining our geopolitical ecology approach, we detail the scope of the DLA‐E's operations, its supply chain, bureaucratic practices, and the physical infrastructure that facilitates the US military's consumption of hydro‐based carbons on a global scale. We show several “path dependencies” – warfighting paradigms, weapons systems, bureaucratic requirements, and waste – that are put in place by military supply chains and undergird a heavy reliance on carbon‐based fuels by the US military for years to come. The paper, based on comprehensive records of bulk fuel purchases we have gathered from DLA‐E through Freedom of Information Act requests, represents a partial yet robust picture of the geopolitical ecology of American imperialism.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is the accepted version of the following article: Belcher, O, Bigger, P, Neimark, B & Kennelly, C (2020). Hidden carbon costs of the “everywhere war” Logistics, geopolitical ecology, and the carbon boot‐print of the US military. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 45(1): 65-80, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance With Wiley Terms and Conditions for self-archiving.
Date accepted:03 May 2019
Date deposited:04 July 2019
Date of first online publication:19 June 2019
Date first made open access:19 June 2021

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