The Impact of Terrorism on the Environment

Today many people will be offering up reflections on the tragedy of September 11, 2001. This act of violence, which shook Americans to their very core and cast doubt on a Presidential administration, one that would eventually prove to be less than capable at handling national tragedies, sent shock waves through our world.

Today many people will write about the way that 9/11 affected human rights and the privilege of privacy, created an unjustified war that we are still trying to find our way out of, and cost the lives of countless rescue personnel who will always be remembered as heroes.

In the clamor of these remembrances, there is one voice that is silent. Mother Earth. Few will choose to focus on the negative impact of these terrorist attacks on the environment, because it is not nearly as visible an effect.

However, the damage that was caused to the planet on this fateful day, not to mention the continued environmental degradation that has been allowed in order to bring “freedom” and “democracy” to countries in the Middle East, might possibly be the most fatal outcome of all.

When the Twin Towers were so viciously and unexpectedly attacked on September 11th, all of lower Manhattan was enveloped in toxic dust clouds rising almost 1000 feet into the air. Thanks to drifting winds at the time of the attack, these dust clouds slowly moved south, choking the inhabitants Brooklyn and Staten Island, slowly depositing an unknown cocktail of gases and airborne particulates all over everything.

In the days and weeks following the attack the Environmental Protection Agency gave assurances to New Yorkers that the dust permeating Lower Manhattan and the smoke still emanating from Ground Zero did not pose a health risk. The agency issued five press releases within ten days of the attack assuring people that the air was safe to breathe, despite an absence of data to support such assurances.

In August of 2003, it was revealed that the EPA had been muzzled by the Bush administration. EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley issued a report on August 21, 2003, admitting that the reassurances were unfounded, and that the public statements of the agency were being influenced by the National Security Council, under the direction of the White House. The EPA, according to the report, had been influenced to ‘add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones’” (from

Subsequent testing of air, soil and water samples taken from the Ground Zero site months and even years after the attacks confirmed lingering levels of asbestos as well as unknown toxic substances.

In his attempt to remain the triumphant leader of the city, then Mayor Rudy Giuliani seized control of the cleanup of Ground Zero, taking control away from established federal agencies, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Army Corps of Engineers and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, according to a May 14, 2007 New York Times article, titled “Ground Zero Illness Clouding Giuliani’s Legacy.”

Due to botched inspections and a clean-up process fraught with misinformation, we may never truly know the extent of the environmental damage caused by this attack.

Today, all Americans will reflect on the ways they have been affected by this violent tragedy. May we also reflect on the ways our violent tendencies will affect the wellness of our children and grandchildren, and may we refrain from engaging in this “solution” which ends only in death.

Read more Care2 perspectives on the anniversary of that traumatic day:

Hijacked Civil Liberties: The Legacy of 9/11 

Have the Military Responses to 9/11 Been Equal to Their Cost? 

On the Eve of the 9/11 Anniversary, Veterans Lobby to Stop Global Warming    

Watch your Back, I’m a Terrorist    

The Heroic Dogs of 9/11    

9/11, the DOMA Effect, at Victim 0001 

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W. C
W. C21 days ago


William C
William C22 days ago

Thank you for caring.

Lee Javi
Lee J6 years ago

Edit9-11by Lee Javier on Monday, September 12, 2011 at 7:47am
I am still so saddened and shocked by 9-11…….Part of me is almost in denial…I worked at the World Trade Center in the early 70’s…….after its inauguration there was a restaurant with a construction zone theme that I loved…The staff wore hardhats and you sat on benches made of work horses…… I also remember the Windows of the World………The elevators scared me….They would jar my insides up or down and make my knees weak as they zoomed to my floors….now gone…I worked on the 87th floor in one tower and the 103rd in the other ………..I especially remember all the wonderful people that worked there…the unsung victims…. waiters, guards, cooks, maintenance crews, receptionists, floor staff and greeters…..those faces I saw each day that cared for the towers and it's inhabitants.....and were killed along with those beautiful buildings by hate.........This will always weigh on my heart and I pray for this world to embrace love and respect for each other and end the victimization of many innocents to satisfy the differences of a handful……….

Ray P.
Mary P8 years ago

Google "The New World Order" and "The Arrivals" to discover the Real Terrorists and The Hidden Agenda behind the wars.

Lionel M.
Lionel Mann8 years ago

Thanks, Geoff.
The military option is just not working; it is really counter-productive. Those "terrorists" who are killed are seen as martyrs by many. It merely goes to stimulate the cause's recruitment.
William L.
Good for you, but they won't believe it. I have been saying it, perhaps rather less bluntly, for fifty years, including some time teaching U.S. children. There are none so blind as those that will not see, so deaf as those that will not hear.
I would allocate green stars were it not that the system does not permit me to; I have no time to fiddle around with some complications.

Geoff W.
Geoff W.8 years ago

Lionel, I agree 100% with your idea of defeating terrorism by understanding and working through the roots of it. People seem to think that there must be an instantaneous solution to everything, but that just isn't the case. We must be patient, and keep a positive attitude regardless of what goes on in this world.

move on and move up,

Geoff W.

Lionel M.
Lionel Mann8 years ago

Bravo, Geoff. However, the article failed to mention the clouds of poison-imkpregnated dust that has been showered upon Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On the positive side, why not try to eradicate the exploitation, extortion, corruption spread by allegedly "civilised" nations to which "terrorism" is the opposition? To understand and to remedy its causes, rather than to lash out ignorantly, indiscriminately and wildly, is the only way that terrorism will eventually be defeated.

Geoff W.
Geoff W.8 years ago

William L., if you're going to slam America, provide some solid facts to make it believable (not to say I don't agree with you).

Also, don't make such a general statement: "America is a shameless liar, a genocidal pathological murdering mass of mental defectives. All the developed world is a sickness."
While there may be a great deal of stupid things going on throughout the developed world, there are probably just as many great initiatives going on behind the scenes. People would rather focus on the bad things going on, because it makes them feel better about their own pathetic life. They hate on everyone who does something to this world, regardless of whether that action is destructive or improves the world.

I find it hilarious that the only place where people aren't afraid to stand up for their convictions is online, where a person can easily hide their identity.

While we are all sitting here discussing the shit out of an event that has happened, it's past, done with, there are real people in the world, making real change happen. So get off your asses and do something to improve this world, instead of perpetuating the myths that help create a negative atmosphere.

move on, and move up

Geoff W.

Michael R.
Michael R.8 years ago

"And what it did to the environment? What does that have to do with this "National Day of Remembrance". This blogger has an agenda and it is evil.

Global warming is a myth. If the evil environmentalists would just move to China and look at their help in fighting pollution the United States is as clean as a Mountain Stream." (Bruce V.)

Did you even read the article? What do asbestos levels have to do with global warming? Regardless of global warming being a myth or not, asbestos has been proven a life-taking substance.

Is it truly wrong of the blogger to want better for our planet which we all share? I think not And thus do not see how it can be deemed as evil.

It is not proper to slam someone, let alone a group of people, on a topic which you are clearly not educated in.

America has suffered PERMANENT environmental damage since the industrial revolution. I am glad that so many advances in green technology and initiatives have taken place since then, to improve our destructive ways.

This event truly has set back those initiatives, regardless of how you look at it, and I honour our dead.

David A.
David A8 years ago

Hmm, three interesting perspectives, and a bit of polarization....

This article puts a finger on a truth that extends to all wars and acts of war. The destruction of governmental infrastructure leads to societal weakness and the breakdown of environmental measures, leading to killing of protected animals, burning of land, and other damage.

The fascism of the previous US administration, and the continued growth-at-all-costs culture which goes beyond presidential changes, did and will continue to pressure and endanger the safety of all people and animals on the planet. The fascists and oligarchs hate science and facts; such a way of life is dangerous in this age when humans are indeed able to change the face of the planet.