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Ecological Effects

One of the more overlooked effects of the Vietnam War is the ecological damage done during it. New technology introduced during the war proved to be detrimental to Vietnam’s environment. These included “chemical deforestation techniques, Rome plows and new, more destructive bombs,” (Teen Ink). The reason for the mass deforestation that took place during the war was because of the large discrepancy between the American and the Vietnamese’s knowledge of the terrain.

Two chemicals that were used during this were Agent Orange and Napalm. According to one article, “Vietnam's government estimates there are 1 million victims of Agent Orange among its 76 million people, including war veterans who were directly doused and civilians like Tram who live in affected areas as well as the children of both. Thousands of American servicemen also were exposed and blame ailments on the defoliant,” (Alexander). Napalm was used “In deforestation…this sticky substance was dispersed onto vegetation and then ignited. It burned similarly to gasoline, and quickly destroyed all surrounding vegetation,” (Teen Ink).

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Effects of Napalm on Vietnam Terrain

Other means of damaging the ecosystem was done using Rome Plows. The design of these was “An eleven-foot wide, two and a half-ton blade attached to a 20-ton tractor. The machines are estimated to have cleared approximately 1,000 acres of land daily at a rate of about one acre of land per hour, and every day they operated a fleet of 150 tractors. Not only did the Rome Plows kill massive numbers of animals and tons of vegetation, they also caused erosion, a problem that is still a concern of ecologists today,” (Teen Ink). The destructive strategies used during the war have proven to be irreversible. Many species of animals and vegetation were greatly reduced and, in some cases, became extinct,” (Teen Ink). There was also terrible damage done to the landscape, as more than 30 million craters averaging 30 feet in diameter that are infertile due to the lack of topsoil. The craters also damage the drainage patterns of the area because they fill with water. These basins become home to disease-bearing organisms, further impacting the ecosystem,” (Teen Ink). Clearly, there were many overlooked ecological effects of the Vietnam War.