I've been long wondering, and pondering this question since I've been studying and researching WWII for the last 15 years.
I know this is an impossible calculation to make, but I wonder if anyone has any idea how I might come to some fact or figure on the total environmental impact of WWII. When I research this, what comes up usually, is just the atomic bombings of Japan. But, i'm interested in more of the long-term effects. For example, here is a list of some of the items I've been trying to quantify.
- How much lead is in the ground, from the ~180 billion small arms fired, that is now leaching into the groundwater?
- How much lead is leaching into the ocean water from the war in the Pacific?
- How much oil was spilled into the ocean from all of the merchant shipping sunk in the Atlantic, coupled with all of the oil from the U-Boats that were sunk.
- How much heavy metal contamination is entering the oceans from things onboard those sunken vessels, like the lead in the batteries in the U-Boats?
- How much CO2, and other toxins that might still be measurable today was released into the atmosphere from all of the fuel that was burned to fly 1,000 plane formations over Germany, and Japan, and to fuel the "Red Ball Express", not to mention all of the tanks, from all sides, ships, trucks, guns, trains, etc.
- How much pollution and other toxins that might still be measurable today was released by all of the cities that the Allies burned to the ground? The 16 square miles of Tokyo, in a single raid that killed more people and did more damage than Little Boy did in Hiroshima. Add to that, Dresden, and all of the other cities destroyed by firestorms. Those fires had to release thousands of tons of toxins in the air?
- All of the fires from the scorched earth policy employed by both Hitler, and Stalin.
All of that doesn't even take into the account all of the pollution that manufacturing all the weapons of war added as well. My interest lies in the lasting damage that was done, and what effects it might still be having on the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. All of that cargo didn't just disappear. It is still there, slowly decaying, and leaking oils, fuels, grease, and who knows what else. Not only from the delivery (Liberty) ships, but from the cargo as well. In the Pacific, all those carriers, battleships, and cruisers, that went down, with all of the HE on board, all of the lead ammo, all of the fuel, and oils on in the planes. It's actually mind-boggling when you think about it. Or... Am I wrong? Are the oceans simply that big, that when you combine everything that ever went down into the ocean, it is just not enough to have a measurable effect of the wildlife, quality of the water, etc?
Japan is a really good example of how Mother Nature heals herself. But there still has to be some sort of measurable impact of WWII that remains still, to this day, doesn't there?
I realize that coming to some solid numbers is probably an impossible task. But, best-guesses, and estimates, backed by solid evidence and facts would be fantastic.