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Why and How to Bring Environmental and Peace Movements Together

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If war were moral, legal, defensive, beneficial to the spread of freedom, and inexpensive, we would be obliged to make abolishing it our top priority solely because of the destruction that war and preparations for war do as the leading polluters of our natural environment.

I happened to read a report this week from a U.S. environmental think tank that advocates for the U.S. military to blow up trucks full of oil and gas. The trucks belong to ISIS, and the argument is that bombing trucks does less damage than bombing oil wells, and that -- if you add in vague social and economic factors rather ludicrously quantified with numerical pseudo-precision -- bombing trucks does less damage than doing nothing. The option of working nonviolently for peace, disarmament, aid, and environmental protection is not considered.

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If we don't start considering new options, we're going to run out of options entirely. The roughly $1 trillion that the United States puts into militarism each year is the number one way in which war kills and the source of an infinity of not-yet-considered options. Tiny fractions of U.S. military spending could end hunger, the lack of clean water, and various diseases globally. While converting to clean energy could pay for itself in healthcare savings, the funds with which to do it are there, many times over, in the U.S. military budget. One airplane program, the F-35, could be canceled and the funds used to convert every home in the United States to clean energy.

We're not going to save our earth's climate only as individuals. We need organized global efforts. The only place where the resources can be found is in the military. The wealth of the billionaires does not even begin to rival it. And taking it away from the military, even without doing anything else with it, is the single best thing that we could do for the earth. The U.S. military is the leading consumer of petroleum around, the third-greatest polluter of U.S. waterways, the top creator of superfund environmental disaster sites.

Pre-presidential campaign Donald Trump signed a letter published on December 6, 2009, on page 8 of the New York Times, a letter to President Obama that called climate change an immediate challenge. "Please don't postpone the earth," it said. "If we fail to act now, it is scientifically irrefutable that there will be catastrophic and irreversible consequences for humanity and our planet."

Among societies that accept or promote war making, those consequences of environmental destruction will likely include yet more war making. It is of course false and self-defeating to suggest that climate change simply causes war in the absence of any human agency. There is no correlation between resource scarcity and war or environmental destruction and war. There is, however, a correlation between cultural acceptance of war and war. But this world -- and especially certain parts of it, including the United States -- is very accepting of war, as reflected in the belief in war's inevitability.

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Wars generating environmental destruction and mass-migration, generating more wars, generating further destruction is a vicious cycle we have to break out of by protecting the environment and abolishing war.

Toward that end, many of us are planning an event in Washington, D.C., in late September that will bring together leading environmental and peace activists. You are encouraged to sign up and participate in #NoWar2017: War and the Environment.

We're also taking a flotilla for peace and the environment to the edge of the Pentagon in the lagoon off the Potomac River. If you don't have a kayak we'll get you one. Sign up here.

Peace and planet! No more oil for wars!

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http://davidswanson.org
David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)
 

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John Lawrence RĂ©

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Brilliant.

Submitted on Thursday, Jul 27, 2017 at 9:37:27 PM

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John Jonik

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Environmental and anti-militarism activists have another way to come together...in the Health Insurance arena.

Top for-profit health insurers invest billions in both environmentally-destructive industries and military contractors. No insurance "customers" are advised about their insurer's holdings in pesticides, fracking, war planes, pesticide-drenched cotton and tobacco, bombs, GMOs, Oil, Coal, etc., before signing up.

That both of those entities are notorious threats and harms to health ought be enough to have any such insurer investments prohibited in any version of a national health program...but, for unimaginable reasons, that issue hasn't arisen...yet.

So....at rallies and other efforts to achieve, at last, a universal public-funded, public-administered, Insurance-Free health system ("Single Payer"), it would be effective, and educational to many, to see the strong presence of Environmental and Anti-Militarism factions.

Ben Franklin's quote, "Join, or die" fits this situation without an iota of being rhetorical.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 28, 2017 at 12:36:12 AM

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Vernon Huffman

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The buzzword is intersectionality, David, and it's true that most just causes are connected. I agree with all you've written and heartily support your efforts.

Realistically, if there were a database of all the supporters of environmental organizations and another for those who support peace organizations, merging the two without duplication would result in a file only incrementally larger than either one. Have you met any peace activists who disregard the environment? Nor are there many environmentalist war hawks, though there are plenty of politicians who pay lip service only.

A growing portion of our nation are realizing the urgency of radical change to our system of government and our way of life. Unfortunately most of us don't believe we have the power to pull off those changes. You do an excellent job of focusing on the ideals we all seek. Now we need to break down the tasks of revolution into bite size chunks that any of us can take on.

Submitted on Friday, Jul 28, 2017 at 3:28:01 PM

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