Combating Militarism on Earth Day

April 21st, 2018 - by admin

Steve Fake / Just World Educational – 2018-04-21 23:49:50

Combating Militarism on Earth Day: A Conversation with Jackie Cabasso and Gar Smith

Combating Militarism on Earth Day:
A Conversation with with Jackie Cabasso and Gar Smith

Steve Fake / Just World Educational

(April 20, 2018) — As a prelude to Earth Day, on Thursday, April 19th Just World Educational hosted a Facebook Live discussion on the Earth Day Appeal that we launched last month, titled “To Save the Earth, Curb Militarism!” [Your can read the Appeal below.] Please sign and share it with the hashtag #WarHurtsEarth.

The Live discussion featured Jackie Cabasso, Executive Director of Western States Legal Foundation and National Co-convener of United for Peace and Justice, and Gar Smith, the director of Environmentalists Against War, a member of the coordinating council at World Beyond War, and editor of the award-nominated book, The War and Environment Reader (Just World Books, 2017). The discussion was emceed (off camera) by our own Jim Haber (West Coast Representative at Just World Educational).

After reading the six key ‘asks’ of the Earth Day Appeal, Smith and Cabasso elaborated on the rapacious nature of modern warfare. Smith began by reviewing the enormous fossil fuel consumption footprint of the U.S. military. Cabasso then explored the history of nuclear weapons testing, in all cases on indigenous lands, including in the Marshall Islands and the American Southwest.

She shared the 1995 testimony before the International Court of Justice of Lijon Eknilang, a woman from Rongelap Atoll in the Marshall Islands, who described the experiences of Marshallese women who have experienced babies born with gruesome birth defects in the aftermath of U.S. atomic testing. Cabasso was actually present in The Hague to hear this testimony in person.

Cabasso recalled that the environmental and human impact of nuclear weapons was never mentioned in her ecology class at the time of the first Earth Day in 1970, when she was a senior in high school. Cabasso laments the “real resistance” to including a militarism and anti-war component in many environmental initiatives, including the massive People’s Climate March in 2014 in New York.

Cabasso believes the obstacle at the institutional level among big environmental groups is that anti-militarism challenges the fundamental economic structure of the country. More positively, she notes that at the individual level, there is greater openness to acknowledging the linkages.

Smith drew attention to the perverse profit incentives of weapons manufactures like Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon (maker of the Tomahawk missile), which have a vested interest in global warfare. He identified a key task of concerned citizens: working to transform the economy so that profits are aligned with civilian development and peace rather than militarism.

Smith calls for transforming the so-called defense industry from an aggressive war industry into a genuine “home-defense” force (e.g. responding to extreme weather events) with a far smaller carbon footprint, and repurposing the bulk of the Pentagon budget to promote environmental restoration and civilian wellbeing.

Cabasso called upon viewers to get involved in the Poor Peoples’ Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, initiated by Rev. William Barber. The campaign starts on Mother’s Day, May 13th, 2018, involving public education and nonviolent direct actions. The themes of the third and fourth weeks are the war economy and ecological devastation.

Looking ahead, World Beyond War will be hosting a two-day international conference in Toronto, starting on International Peace Day, September 21.

The Earth Day Appeal has been signed by (at the time of writing) over 160 individuals and some 50 organizations from all over the world. Organizational signatories include Code Pink, the Costs of War Project at Brown University, and Greenpeace USA (to pick just a few of the many notable groups). Signatories come from every continent except Antarctica, including the nations of Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada, Tunisia, Cameroon, Chile, Denmark, Netherlands, United Kingdom, Germany, India, and Nepal.

An Appeal for Earth Day, 2018
To Save the Earth, Curb Militarism!

To Save the Earth, Curb Militarism!
An Appeal for Earth Day, 2018

CODEPINK & Environmentalists Against War & Just World Educational & Traprock Center for Peace and Justice & World Beyond War

Our five organizations, CODEPINK, Environmentalists Against War, Just World Educational, Traprock Center for Peace & Justice, and World Beyond War, invite citizens and organizations in the US and around the world to express support for the statement that follows.

We are hoping to gather as many individual signatures and organizational endorsements as possible between now and Earth Day (April 22.) Please help us to do so! The current list of signatories can be viewed here. You can add your personal or organizational name here.

Livestreaming Facebook Event: Click here to participate in a conversation about how to advance discussions of militarism’s environmental impacts in the context of Earth Day. Thursday, April 19, from 5 to 5:30 pm Pacific Time.

Here is the full text:

An Appeal for Earth Day, 2018
To Save the Earth, Curb Militarism!

Fighting wars and preparing our military for war are activities that inflict numerous forms of damage on the global ecosystem, including by emitting dangerous amounts of greenhouse gases.

The Department of Energy’s own numbers reveal that in FY2016 the Department of Defense emitted more than 66.2 million metric tons of CO2 equivalent (MMTCO2e) into the atmosphere. [1] That was more than the emissions from Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Ireland, or 160 other nations. [2]

Other war or security agencies undoubtedly added to the total. Regarding just one recent war, a 2008 study from Oil Change International calculated that during the first five years of the Iraq War, the conflict generated at least 141 MMTCO2e, most of it emitted by the US military. [3]

Meanwhile, the United States continues to hold 6,800 nuclear warheads, 45.5% of the world’s total. While 2,800 of these are “retired” and slated for dismantlement, the Trump Administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review has proposed expanding the country’s nuclear capabilities.

Most existing US nukes are many times more powerful than those dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945; many have a globe-girdling range; and 1,800 of them are deployed for use at just a few minutes’ notice. [4]

Despite the well-documented harms that militarism causes to the environment at home and worldwide, the Pentagon, related agencies, and many military industries have been granted special exemptions from the environmental regulations that govern all other activities in the United States. Current or former military-related installations form a high proportion of the 1,300 sites on the EPA’s “Superfund” list. [5]

On Earth Day 2018, we appeal to our fellow citizens to recognize the damage that warfare and preparations for war inflict on our land, air, water, and climate; to commit to educating others about these impacts; and to advocate for the following policies, which can reduce and start to repair the damage that militarism inflicts on the Earth:

* Subject the Pentagon and all other security agencies to normal environmental regulations and audits, stopping the exemptions granted to these agencies.

* Fully fund the cleanup of US military installations at home and overseas.

* Shift our foreign policies from war-fighting to diplomacy, including through support of the United Nations and other avenues for the peaceful resolution of differences.

* Dramatically reduce the Pentagon’s global network of nearly 800 bases in more than 70 foreign nations and territories.

* Convert weapons industries into industries that meet pressing social needs including mass transit, hazardous waste cleanup, health, housing, education, renewable energy, and further development of energy-efficient technologies.

* Reduce the US nuclear arsenal and work with other nations to abolish nuclear weapons.

[1] Source: DO. Click through to settings for 2016 and Department of Defense.

[2] Source: Global Carbon Atlas. Click on “Chart view” on right sidebar.

[3] Source: Oil Change International.

[4] Source: Federation of American Scientists.

[5] Source: Environmental Protection Agency.

The Effects Of War And Conflict On Children
War Child Holland — (August 16, 2013)

School project video by Joshua Perez (December 5, 2011

A Climate of War:
The War in Iraq and Global Warming

Margaret Bast / Oil Change International

(March 2008) — On the fifth anniversary of the Iraq war, this report by Oil Change International quantifies both the greenhouse gas emissions of the Iraq War and the opportunity costs involved in fighting war rather than climate change.

Here are some facts on the war and warming:

1. Projected total US spending on the Iraq war could cover all of the global investments in renewable power generation that are needed between now and 2030 in order to halt current warming trends.

2. The war [in Iraq] is responsible for at least 141 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent (MMTCO2e) since March 2003. To put this in perspective, CO2 released by the war to date equals the emissions from putting 25 million more cars on the road in the US this year.

3. Emissions from the Iraq War to date are nearly two and a half times greater than what would be avoided between 2009 and 2016 were California to implement the auto emission regulations it has proposed, but that the Bush Administration has struck down.

Finally, if the war was ranked as a country in terms of annual emissions, it would emit more CO2 each year than 139 of the world’s nations do. Falling between New Zealand and Cuba, the war each year emits more than 60% of all countries on the planet.

4. Just the $600 billion that Congress has allocated for military operations in Iraq to date could have built over 9000 wind farms (at 50 MW capacity each), with the overall capacity to meet a quarter of the country’s current electricity demand. If 25% of our power came from wind, rather than coal, it would reduce US GHG emissions by over 1 billion metric tons of CO2 per year — equivalent to approximately 1/6 of the country’s total CO2 emissions in 2006.

5. In 2006, the US spent more on the war in Iraq than the whole world spent on investment in renewable energy.

6. US presidential candidate Barack Obama . . . committed to spending “$150 billion over 10 years to advance the next generation of green energy technology and infrastructure.” The US spends nearly that much on the war in Iraq in just 10 months.

In presenting these calculations, we are not suggesting that greenhouse gas emissions are the most important impact of the war, nor the major reason to oppose it. We are not arguing that a more energy-efficient military would be more effective or justified in its actions, nor suggesting that there aren’t many things besides clean energy on which the US could choose to spend its money.

Rather, in a process comparable to estimating the true cost of the war in dollar terms, we are simply examining an aspect of the war’s impact that has been ignored.

The emissions associated with the war in Iraq are literally unreported. Military emissions abroad are not captured in the national greenhouse gas inventories that all industrialized nations, including the United States, report under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

It’s a loophole big enough to drive a tank through.

Estimates of emissions stem from fuel-intensive combat, oil well fires and increased gas flaring, the boom in cement consumption due to reconstruction efforts and security needs, and heavy use of explosives and chemicals that contribute to global warming.

These emissions estimates are very conservative. Throughout our research we have erred on the side of caution, and have simply omitted areas where reliable numbers were not readily available (e.g., military consumption of halons or other greenhouse-gas-intensive chemicals, and the use of bunker fuels for the transportation of troops and equipment to Iraq). We are confident that ongoing research will reveal more emissions.

Download the full report, A Climate of War (PDF)