The Treadmill of Destruction in Comparative Perspective: A Panel Study of Military Spending and Carbon Emissions, 1960-2014

John Hamilton Bradford, Alexander M. Stoner


This article analyzes a unique panel data set to assess the effect of militarism on per capita carbon dioxide emissions.   We extend previous research examining the effects of military expenditures on carbon emissions by including in our analyses over 30 years of additional data.  In addition, we compare our preliminary results to those obtained from other estimation procedures.  Specifically, we report and visually illustrate the results of 54 cross-sectional models (one for each year) and 36 unique panel regression models on both balanced and unbalanced panels.  We assess how this relationship has changed over time by testing for interactions between military spending and time and by systematically re-analyzing our data across 180 panel regressions with varying time frames.  A strong and enduring association between military spending and per capita carbon emissions is indicated in cross-sectional comparisons.  Our panel analyses reveal a much weaker and varying relationship that has become stronger in recent decades. Moreover, we find that the effect of military spending on per capita carbon emissions is moderated by countries’ level of economic development, with military spending of more wealthy countries having relatively larger net effects on carbon emissions.  We partially confirm previous findings on the temporal stability of the environmental impacts of militarism.  Our analyses show, however, that this temporal stability has emerged relatively recently, and that the relationship between military expenditures and carbon emissions is weaker prior to the 1990s.


Militarism, Militarization, Carbon emissions, Treadmill of destruction, Treadmill of production

Full Text:



Bailey, Delia and Jonathan N. Katz. 2011. “Implementing Panel Corrected Standard Errors in R: The pcse Package.” Journal of Statistical Software. 42(CS1):1–11

Beck, Nathaniel and Jonathan N. Katz. 1995. “What to do (and not to do) with time-series cross-section data.” American Political Science Review, 89(3):634-647.

Bradford, J. H. and A. M. Stoner. 2014. “The Treadmill of Destruction and Ecological Exchange in Comparative Perspective: A Panel Study of the Biological Capacity of Nations, 1961-2007.” Contemporary Journal of Anthropology and Sociology 4(2):87-113.

Clark, Brett and Andrew K. Jorgenson. 2012. “The Treadmill of Destruction and the Environmental Impacts of Militaries.” Sociology Compass, 6(7):557-569.

Cochrane, D. and G. H. Orcutt. 1949. "Application of Least Squares Regression to Relationships Containing Auto-Correlated Error Terms". Journal of the American Statistical Association. 44(245):32–61.

Dickens, Peter. 2004. Society and Nature. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Dycus, Stephen. 1996. National defense and the environment. Hanover, NH: University Press of New England.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. 1999. Environment, Scarcity and Violence. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Hooks, Gregory and Chad L. Smith. 2004. “The Treadmill of Destruction: National Sacrifice Areas and Native Americans.” American Sociological Review 69(4):558-575.

———. 2005. “Treadmills of Production and Destruction Threats to the Environment Posed by Militarism.” Organization & environment 18(1):19-37.

———. 2012. “The Treadmill of Destruction Goes Global.” Pp. 60-86 in The Marketing of War in the Age of Neo-Militarism, edited by Kostas Gouliamos and Christos Kassimeris. New York, NY: Routledge.

Jorgenson, Andrew K. and Brett Clark. 2009. “The Economy, Military, and Ecologically Unequal Exchange Relationships in Comparative Perspective: A Panel Study of the Ecological Footprints of Nations, 1975-2000.” Social Problems, 56(4):621-646.

———. 2012. “Are the Economy and the Environment Decoupling? A Comparative International Study, 1960–2005.” American Journal of Sociology, 118(1):1-44.

———. 2016. “The temporal stability and developmental differences in the environmental impacts of militarism: the treadmill of destruction and consumption-based carbon emissions.” Sustainability Science 11(3):505–14.

Jorgenson, Andrew K., Brett Clark, and Jeffrey Kentor. 2010. “Militarization and the environment: A panel study of carbon dioxide emissions and the ecological footprints of nations, 1970–2000.” Global Environmental Politics 10(1):7-29.

Kashin, Konstantin. 2014. “panelAR”. Retrieved October 30, 2016.

Kentor, Jeffrey and Edward Kick. 2008. “Bringing the Military Back In: Military Expenditures and Economic Growth 1990 to 2003.” Journal of World-Systems Research XIV(2):142-172.

LaDuke, Winona. 1999. All Our Relations: Native Struggles for Land and Life. Boston, MA: South End Press.

Le Quéré C, R. Moriarty, R. M. Andrew, et. al. 2015. “Global Carbon Budget 2015.” Earth System Science Data 7(2):165–185.

Molotch, Harvey. 1976. “The City as a Growth Machine: Toward a Political Economy of Place.” American Journal of Sociology 82(2):309-332.

Parenti, Christian. 2011. Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence. New York: Perseus Books.

Parks, Bradley. C. and J. Timmons Roberts. 2010. “Climate Change, Social Theory and Justice.” Theory, Culture & Society, 27(2-3):134-166.

Prais, S. J. and Winsten, C. B. 1954. “Trend Estimators and Serial Correlation” (PDF). Cowles Commission Discussion Paper No. 383. Chicago.

Roberts, J. Timmons and Bradley Parks. 2007. A Climate of Injustice: Global Inequality, North-South Politics, and Climate Policy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Reuveny, Rafael. 2007. “Climate Change-Induced Migration and Conflict.” Political Geography, 26(6):656-673.

Salehyan, Idean. 2008. “From Climate Change to Conflict? No Consensus Yet.” Journal of Peace Research 45(3):315–26.

Santana, Deborah Berman. 2002. “Resisting Toxic Militarism: Vieques versus the U.S. Navy.” Social Justice 29(1-2):37-48.

Schnaiberg, Allan. 1980. The Environment: From Surplus to Scarcity. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Schnaiberg, Allan and Kenneth Alan Gould. 1994. Environment and Society: The Enduring Conflict. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.

Shandra, John M. 2007. “Economic Dependency, Repression, and Deforestation: A Quantitative, Cross-National Analysis.” Sociological Inquiry 77(4):543-571.

Smith, and Chad L., Gregory Hooks, and Michael Lengefeld. 2014. “The War on Drugs in Colombia: The Environment, the Treadmill of Destruction and Risk-Transfer Militarism.” Journal of World-Systems Research 20(2):185-206.

Spaargaren, Gert. 2000. “Ecological Modernization Theory and the Changing Discourse on Environment and Modernity.” Pp. 41-72 in Environment and Global Modernity, edited by Gert Spaargaren, Arthur Mol, and Frederick Buttel. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Theisen, Ole Magnus. 2008. “Blood and Soil? Resource Scarcity and Internal Armed Conflict Revisited.” Journal of Peace Research 45(6):801-818.

World Bank. 2016. World Development Indicators.

Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. 2013. Introductory Econometrics: A Modern Approach, 5th ed. Mason, OH: Thomson.



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2017 John Hamilton Bradford, Alexander M. Stoner

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.