To my knowledge, and I very, very much hope I am wrong, this upcoming conference will be the very first environmental conference in the United States to take on the single gravest threat to the world's natural environment and to the natural environment right here within the United States. May many more conferences and actions follow!
With some drugs, we have learned that we must take on the demand as well as the supply, and that we must treat that demand as an illness when harmful. Not so with petroleum. Thus far we have been more than content to go after the pipelines, while the consumer is let off the hook entirely. I use the singular term "consumer" purposively.
There is one entity in the United States that alone consumes more petroleum than most entire countries. The same entity primarily demolishes the natural environment far from these shores and on an unimaginable (and carefully unimagined) scale, but it is also the producer of 69% of U.S. environmental disasters that have been named Superfund sites by the EPA. It is also the third greatest polluter of U.S. waterways, despite its concentration on polluting other waters. It is the greatest producer of nuclear waste and threat, and the only institution intentionally spreading nuclear waste far and wide in the open air. It is the greatest proliferator of tools for destroying the natural environment abroad as well. Unlike any other entity on earth, it has displaced entire populations and rendered entire islands and other territories uninhabitable for millennia to come. And yet, as a problem worth focusing on, it has thus far escaped the attention of big environmental organizations.
This is like taking on racist buffoon politicians except Donald Trump, or oil companies except ExxonMobil, or nasty media outlets except Fox News. Who does such things? How to make sense of them?
The conference I am referring to is #NoWar2017: War and the Environment, happening in Washington, D.C. on September 22-24, and preceded by a September 17th flotilla to the Pentagon. You can sign up for either one at WorldBeyondWar.org. If you're still waiting in suspense, the entity I am referring to is, of course, the United States military.
Speakers at #NoWar2017 will include, among many others:
Eric Teller is coordinator of Fossil Free GW at George Washington University. He is a sophomore majoring in International Affairs with a dual concentration in Comparative Social, Political, and Economic Systems and International Environmental Studies, along with a minor in Sustainability.
Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright is US Coordinator with The Leap. He has presented the case for climate justice, environmental justice, and climate change action at universities nation- and world-wide and written on the subjects for various publications. Anthony was named one of Grist's "50 People You'll Be Talking About in 2016."
Tim DeChristopher is Founder of the Climate Disobedience Center. Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.
Robin Taubenfeld is a national nuclear spokesperson with Friends of the Earth Australia, a mother, teacher, artist, media maker, community worker, and a recipient of a Women's International League for Peace & Freedom's Peacewomen Award 2016.
Nadine Bloch is currently Training Director for Beautiful Trouble and an innovative artist, nonviolent practitioner, political organizer, direct-action trainer, and puppetista.
Suzanne Cole is a senior at the George Washington University studying international affairs with a focus in international sustainability and development. She is a coordinator with GW Fossil Free, and has been heavily involved in divestment and environmental activism both on campus and within the larger DC community.
Dale Dewar is retired from her position as Executive Director of Physicians for Global Survival, the Canadian affiliate of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Much of her clinical work was in Northern Saskatchewan, among the largest uranium mines in the world. She and her husband, Bill Curry, received the Global Citizen's Award for Saskatchewan in 2010 for environmental activism and international volunteer work.
Jonathan Alan King is Professor of Molecular Biology at MIT where he has long taught biochemistry and directed biomedical research on protein misfolding and human disease. Prof. King is a Past President of the national Biophysical Society, and former Councilor of the American Society of Virology and of the American Society for Microbiology. He is a recipient of MIT's M.L. King Jr. Faculty Leadership Award.
Gar Smith has sailed on the Rainbow Warrior and the peace ship Fri. He is the founding editor of Earth Island Journal. In 2003, he co-founded Environmentalists Against War and organized the "Carbon-Free" contingent in San Francisco's massive peace march. He is the author of The War and Environment Reader.
Susi Snyder is the Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for PAX in the Netherlands. Mrs. Snyder is the primary author and coordinator of the Don't Bank on the Bomb annual report on nuclear weapon producers and the institutions that finance them.
Richard Tucker is an environmental historian at the University of Michigan. He specializes on the world history of environmental impacts of war and militarism. He hosts the website environmentandwar.com.
Diane Wilson is a fourth generation shrimper, mother of five, author, and an environmental, peace, and social justice advocate. During the last 30 years, she has launched legislative campaigns, demonstrations, hunger strikes, sunk boats, and even climbed chemical towers in her fight to protect her Gulf Coast bay.
The purpose of #NoWar2017 is not just to hear from great speakers, but to bring together people who care about and want to take action to save the environment and to end war -- to build alliances, to strategize more wisely together, and to act with greater strength as a unified movement wherever our interests overlap. Preventing nuclear apocalypse and climate apocalypse should not be segregated movements. Let's bring them together and transform our world.