We Need a "Natural Guard" to Stand Up to the Pentagon
April 16, 2016
Lisa Savage / Maine Natural Guard & Bruce Gagnon / The Times Record
Commentary: For years now I have been listening in vain for the sound of environmental activists noticing the Pentagon's enormous carbon footprint. A two-day conference last week made no mention of the organization that is the biggest fossil fuel consumer on the planet. Naomi Klein's high-impact book on the urgency of climate action, This Changes Everything, gave the Pentagon one paragraph. In response I have created the Maine Natural Guard.
Pledge To Notice The Environmental Costs Of Militarism
The Maine Natural Guard
SOLON, Maine (April 12, 2016) -- For years now I have been listening in vain for the sound of environmental activists noticing the Pentagon's enormous carbon footprint. An entire two-day conference at nearby Colby College last week heard no mention of the organization that is the biggest fossil fuel consumer on the planet.
Naomi Klein's high-impact book on the urgency of climate action, This Changes Everything, gave the Pentagon one paragraph.
In response I have created a Maine Natural Guard communication platform, building on my friend Bruce Gagnon's call to "Bring On The Natural Guard" [See below -- EAW] and convert the forces of militarism to environmental protection. I invite you to join in the important work of connecting these dots.
Take the Natural Guard Pledge
I pledge to speak out about the effects of militarism on our environment, because the commons we all share that sustain life are valuable to me. In discussions about security and safety, I will remind others of the need to count in the cost in pollution and fuel consumption of waging wars all around the planet.
In discussions about acting soon to protect our loved ones from the effects of climate chaos, I will remind others of the need to examine the role of the Pentagon and its many contractors in contributing to planetary warming.
Add your name to join the Natural Guard effort from wherever you are!
To see a current updated list of signatures, visit the Maine Natural Guard website.
Bring on the 'Natural Guard'
Bruce Gagnon / Space4Peace & The Times Record Op-Ed
BRUNSWICK, Maine (March 30, 2016) -- A March 18 article in The Times Record, "Vietnam facing severe drought," caught my attention. The AP reported, "Vietnam's southern Mekong Delta, the country's main rice growing region, is experiencing the worst drought and saline intrusion in recent history that has affected more than half a million people."
Here in Maine we had little winter this year with temperatures warming to record levels. There have been 10 straight months of record setting temperature rises worldwide. Our weather is changing -- and unless something is done now our children and the future generations will suffer terribly. What are we willing to change in order that they have a future?
The Pentagon occupies 6,000 bases in the US and 1,000 bases in 150 foreign countries (See David Vine's new book, Base Nation). The Pentagon has admitted to burning 350,000 barrels of oil a day and that doesn't include oil burned by contractors and weapons suppliers.
Yet, despite having the planet's single largest carbon bootprint, the Pentagon has been granted a unique exemption from reducing -- or even reporting -- its pollution. The US won this prize during the 1998 Kyoto Protocol negotiations (COP4) after the Pentagon insisted on a "national security provision" that would place its operations beyond global scrutiny or control.
As former Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat recalled: "Every requirement the Defense Department and uniformed military who were at Kyoto by my side said they wanted, they got." (Also exempted from pollution regulation: all Pentagon weapons testing, military exercises, NATO operations and "peacekeeping" missions.)
How do we move away from this toxic industrial way of life we have today here in the US? How do we begin to quickly move to a different kind of industrial footprint? Rather than polluting cars, endless dirty wars, and a crumbling national infrastructure is it possible we could quickly make a shift to a sustainable future?
Germany is helping to show the way by lessening fossil fuel use and moving toward solar and wind power. Residential power prices are at their lowest levels in more than a decade. Coal-fired, gas- fired and nuclear power plants are being shut down throughout Germany -- no longer needed. Why couldn't we do that in the US? We know this direction creates more jobs and gives our kids a chance for a real future.
Around the world we are almost daily hearing about more severe weather like in Vietnam where drought will surely impact its ability to feed people. Stronger hurricanes and typhoons will intensify the already tragic global refugee crisis. Rising sea levels are already impacting some small Pacific islands. Where will those people go?
In the US we are told there is no money to create a national emergency program to jump-start a sustainable transition. Few, if any, politicians are willing to call out the elephant in the middle of the room -- the Pentagon which today rakes in 54 percent of every federal discretionary tax dollar [National Priorities Project].
Are Sens. Collins and King, and Rep. Pingree, willing to call for the conversion of military production at places like BIW to build commuter rail systems, off-shore wind farms, tidal power and more?
When a nation moves toward a sustainable future the need to go to war for oil is dramatically reduced. Obviously the oil corporations, and the military industrial complex that former President Eisenhower warned us about, won't like this plan but immediate profits and our children's future don't go hand-in-hand.
What if we converted the US war machine? When you add up all the various 'national security' pots of gold our annual taxpayer appropriation for the military costs right at $1 trillion?
Why not turn the Pentagon into the "Natural Guard" and build rescue hospital ships at BIW and send them to places around the world to help people who will be suffering as our Mother Earth's body convulses in toxic shock.
Instead of killing people around the world to secure "our oil," why not rely on the sun and the wind for power and turn global enemies into friends?
It takes vision, and a little light, to see the needed direction for our nation during this very Dark Age we are currently living in. Each of us must take some level of responsibility for this predicament but more importantly each of us must help do whatever we can to bring on the Natural Guard.
What is the most important job of a human being on Earth today? Make lots of money, buy lots of stuff, or protect the future generations? To me it is a no-brainer.
Bruce K. Gagnon is a member of PeaceWorks and lives in Bath.