For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Can that which kills, maims, and destroys also be ecofriendly? It may sound like a trick question, but to the U.S. military, the answer is “yes.” The Department of Defense is currently developing more environmentally friendly munitions and weapons, including: less toxic alternatives to lead bullets; missiles that spew less exhaust; and a “paintless” coating for fighter aircraft that will reduce dependence on paints and strippers containing hazardous chemicals.

Reducing its reliance on hazardous materials, it turns out, has several benefits for the military. Green bullets, for example, could save the Army up to $20 million a year and will reduce the problem of lead-contaminated soil at the military’s 1,870 small-arms firing ranges. Close to 700 million rounds of lead-based bullets are fired each year, and removing lead from one range alone can cost several million dollars.

Green weapons also help the DOD comply with an executive order that requires certain federal agencies to cut their toxic releases in half by 2000. The military’s newfound commitment to the planet may even make new allies. “Maybe we shouldn’t belittle this,” concedes Robert Norris, a research analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They are doing something. It may not be enough fast enough, but they recognize that they can’t do business the way they used to.”

So, is the military turning into a bunch of tree-hugging pacifists? Not a chance. The new weapons are just as deadly. “None of these efforts to green our weapons systems will reduce their performance,” assures Sherri Goodman, deputy undersecretary of defense for environmental security.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.