Environmentally Friendly Bombs?

As a pacifist, I do not condone the use of violence to solve one’s problems but this topic still intrigues me. Imagine bombs that do as much damage as TNT but without the environmental impact.

Whether detonated or not TNT (Trinitrotoluene) can contaminate the environment. This compound is used frequently as an explosive because in its standard form it is a solid but it can quickly be converted to a harmful gas. According to University of Minnesota researchers, solid TNT contaminates the soil and groundwater. Also, if broken down by water, the chemical can be absorbed directly into the skin causing headaches, anemia and skin irritation.

So, in lieu of the environmental and unintended human safety issues surrounding TNT and similar traditional chemical weapons, German scientists are developing explosives made using tetrazoles. Tetrazoles are found to be extremely stable and get their explosive power from nitrogen rather than the carbon found in TNT and company.

Two particular tetrazoles, HBT and G2ZT, have been tested in German labs and while they do produce hydrogen cyanide gases researchers have determined that they can mix each with oxidizers to counter the effects and even improve performance of the explosives.

So, is it worth it? I really don’t like the idea of bombs anyway but I suppose that if they continue to be produced then they should be more environmentally conscious. Spoof news network The Onion offers a more comical view of the subject with their reader commentary post titled Germans Making β€˜Green Bombs.’

What do you think of these supposedly more eco-friendly bombs?

Image Credit: ten safe frogs at Flickr under a Creative Commons License

  1. Bobby B.

    Green bombs could damage the historical, symbiotic relationship between the greens and the peaceniks. Up to this development, one has not existed without the other. Can you imagine a bunch of pro-war environmentalists? Would we call them “Green Hawks”? Would the peaceniks become known as “Brown Doves”? Oh, the possibilities…

    BTW, some of us who are a bit older remember a similar idea from the late 70’s: neutron bombs. Supposedly, the neutron bomb extinguished life but left the infrastructure intact with little radioactive fallout.

  2. Justin Van Kleeck

    Thank you for bringing this rather strange bit of sustainability to our attention.

    But really, this is just a bit much. What shall we see next, an Energy Saver electric chair????

    “Sustainability” means, to me at least, preserving and protecting life. Bombs, whether non-toxic or not, only take life (even if used, supposedly, in defense).

    So (like you, Frances?), I am a pacifist and a skeptic….

  3. Nick DiGiacomo

    This may sound like a strange analogy, but “green bombs” are like like pre-nuptial agreements – the triumph of experience over hope.

    As much as we aspire to do better – as people, communities, and nations – we sometimes fail. And we do have a responsibility to minimize the mess our wars (both personal and national) make for those who are still around afterward.

  4. Bean

    I still just don’t know what to think about the whole idea of “green” bombs. It seems so oxymoronic. By the way Justin, the Simpsons had an episode involving a solar-powered electric chair…

  5. Anne

    I’m a pacifist too, but I think it’s a great idea! Not the bomb part, but the explosive part. Think about it. Demolition crews use TNT to blow up buildings so they can reuse space that’s already been turned into concrete. Why, as the song says, “pave paradise and put up a parking lot,” when you can blow up an existing structure (because it’s unstable, etc.) and build something new (preferably out of more sustainable materials) in its place. Now you can do so without as much harmful environmental impact!

    What a great idea!

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