An impending ‘omnicide’ (2) | Inquirer Opinion
Kris-Crossing Mindanao

An impending ‘omnicide’ (2)

President Gustavo Petro’s warning of a possible future “omnicide,” in his speech at COP 28 last Dec. 6, 2023, was to campaign for the end of using fossil fuels that drive the engines of development—in factories and in urban human-made landscapes that heavily utilize these.

The intense use of fossil fuels worldwide has induced certain processes in nature, speeding up the warming of our oceans, leading to a rising global temperature that is no longer healthy not only for human beings but for all living things, both plants and animals. This rapacious use of fossil fuels can even lead to omnicide, as Petro described it: “It means the death of all living things, the interconnected extinction of everything that exists; it’s a homicide of the life force of the planet.”

Petro described the imminent sinking of Tuvalu, a small island nation off the Pacific Ocean, if global warming and rising seawater levels go unabated. If and when this happens, everything and everyone on that island dies, along with the ways of life they used to have; their language, unique identity, and cultural heritage will be buried with them. They will be collectively obliterated from the face of this earth. They would be the first “victims” of omnicide.

In a Jan. 9 report in The Guardian, climate reporter Nina Lakhani described some details of a study that analyzed the environmental impact of Israel’s war on Gaza in its first 60 days. The study is a collaboration between Benjamin Niemark, a senior lecturer at the Queen Mary University of London, and researchers at the University of Lancaster and the Climate and Community Project, a US-based climate policy think tank. The study was published in the Social Science Research Network last January.


This is the first time a study was made on the environmental impact of an ongoing war and, despite its limited coverage (only during the first 60 days of the war), it has shown that military operations and wars are among the intense contributors of harmful carbon dioxide emissions. The study estimates, quite conservatively, that 280,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide have been emitted in the war’s first 60 days alone, which is equivalent to burning 150,000 tons of coal. This analysis was based on the aircraft missions, tanks, and fuel from other vehicles, as well as those generated by making and exploding bombs, artillery, and rockets. Almost half of these emissions were from the United States cargo planes that flew military supplies to Israel.

On the other hand, Hamas rockets fired into Israel during the same two-month period generated only about 713 tons of carbon dioxide, equivalent to burning 300 tons of coal. Comparing the emissions from Israel’s daily bombardment in Gaza for the same period, we see how immensely imbalanced this war is, with Israel demonstrating obvious supremacy of its war machinery.

The study also showed that the first months of the Israel war on Gaza produced more planet-warming gases than 20 climate (crisis) vulnerable nations do in a year.

Israel has gained worldwide criticism for its acts of impunity in Gaza, and the International Court of Justice has ruled that it has committed genocide against the Palestinians there. More than 30,000 Palestinians (and counting) have died, as the Israeli Defense Forces carry on with its air strikes in civilian populated areas in Gaza. It continues to defy international calls for a permanent and unconditional ceasefire.


The calls for greater accountability of greenhouse gas emissions from military operations have been downplayed and even “largely kept secret and unaccounted for in the United Nations negotiations on climate action,” held annually through the COP.

In this sense, Israel has not only killed civilians in Gaza with impunity but it has also been allowed by the complicit countries of the international community to “pollute with impunity, as if the carbon emissions spitting from their tanks and fighter jets don’t count. This has to stop, to tackle the climate crisis we need accountability,” according to Niemark, co-author of the study.


Accountability for the destruction of all things associated with the Palestinian way of life, including their lives, might forever remain a dream. If there is no country strong enough to impel Israel to stop this war, and if complicit countries like the US, Great Britain, and Germany, among others, will continue to support this war, then we might be seeing the slow deaths of a people, a way of life, cultural heritage, and legacy of the long-suffering Palestinians.

We might be seeing an example of an omnicide in the near future.

God forbid.


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