The ever-insightful Clickhole chimed in last week with a piece titled 5 Ways ISIS Can Reduce Its Carbon Footprint. All you need to know about the piece is right there in the headline, but — if you insist — here is a condensed list of the supplied suggestions:
- Purchase carbon offsets
- Reduce number of security checkpoints
- Avoid setting oil wells on fire
- Eat locally
- Take public transportation
The exercise was transparently ridiculous — as if anything with the word “Islamic” in the title needs any help going green. But if that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 things the Islamic State is already doing to help reduce the threat of climate change, in no particular order:
1. Reduce world oil supply
Sure, ISIS might be padding its bottom line by selling oil on the black market — hardly an environmental best practice — to the tune of approximately $3 million in sales a day, but it is also worth noting that the organization’s activities have almost certainly reduced the world’s supply of oil and thereby helped limit carbon emissions. As broken down by The Huffington Post:
ISIS is in control of 60 percent of Syria’s oil production capacity. Pre-conflict, Syria’s production capacity stood at 385,000 to 400,000 barrels a day, so 60 percent would be more than 200,000 barrels. But from what is being reported out of Syria, ISIS appears to only be producing around 50,000 barrels.
The same thing is happening in Iraq. The capacity of the fields under ISIS control is about 80,000 barrels a day. The militants started producing around 20,000, increased to 40,000 and declined again after the start of the U.S. strikes.
2. Maintain safe airspace over Syria
As the Syrian civil war raged on, some have called for the United States to impose a no fly zone, as it did in Libya, to protect civilians from airstrikes carried out by Assad’s air force. The Obama administration has (so far) resisted these calls, in part out of concern over who the measure would most benefit. In other words, the skies above Syria remain free in part because the United States did not want to hand ISIS & Co. a strategic victory, even at the primary expense of Assad. As a result, the skies over Syria have not been transformed into a war zone, and international airlines — including Malaysia — have been able to take the most direct route through the Middle East, meaning they have not had to expend extra jet fuel in order to take the scenic route.
3. Neglect to destroy Iraq’s two largest dams
A few months ago, ISIS captured (Iraq’s largest) Mosul Dam and put nearly 500,000 civilians at risk of death by flooding beneath 65 feet of water. Earlier this month, the Iraqi Army — with aerial support from the United States — dislodged ISIS from the vicinity of (Iraq’s second-largest) Haditha Dam, upstream of Baghdad. These incidents had the potential to end in catastrophe: ISIS fighters could have deliberately breached the dams, neglected to maintain them properly, or simply forced joint Iraqi and U.S. forces to inflict heavy collateral damage as the price of victory. ISIS did none of these things, which means the structures can continue to generate clean hydroelectric power, as well as enable Iraqis to grow local food using the water they detain.
4. Help Iran transition to a clean energy economy
Distaste for the Sunni-extremist ISIS has brought unprecedented levels of cooperation and coordination between the United States and the current Iranian regime, whether Iran is an Arab country or not (it’s not). In fact, reports indicate that “the U.S. informed Iran in advance of its intention to strike Islamic State militants in Syria and told Tehran that it would not target the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad.” This nascent romance has distracted the West from negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear program, which will allow the country to more easily develop purely-civilian nuclear technology and thereby hasten its transition to a carbon-free fuel source for the 21st century.
5. Combat overpopulation
This one’s just a simple equation: I=PAT [Human Impact (I) on the environment equals the product of P= Population, A= Affluence, T= Technology]. In short, explains Wikipedia, humanity’s “growing population, affluence, and technology contribute to our environmental impact.” By killing thousands of innocent civilians in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has already commensurately reduced our species’ impact on the environment.