How Does Climate Change Relate to War?
The US has 900 military bases and outposts in 130 countries. Since 2000 it has deployed combat troops to more than 20 countries. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are beginning to wind down, but the US is expanding its military presence in the Middle East, Africa, and the Pacific Rim and preparing troops for subzero combat in the Arctic.
War at Home
The 1 percent gets bailouts for Wall Street while the rest of us get foreclosures and cutbacks. The banks are propped up while the infrastructure is allowed to crumble. Big Energy gets trillion-dollar subsidies while unions, immigrants, and communities of color fight for their lives. And the public sector is being auctioned off cheap to the private sector.
War on the Planet
Climate change is causing droughts, wildfires, floods, and storms like we’ve never seen before–yet we continue to pump ever more CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. Wetlands and forests are disappearing. Our air, our land, our water are being poisoned. Species are going extinct at rates not seen since the dinosaurs and whole ecosystems are dying. Yet corporations and governments continue to promote their unsustainable policy of “growth”, ignoring the reality of a planet with finite resources.
A Common Thread
Today, international conflicts increasingly revolve around control of essential resources–oil, minerals, land, water. War destroys the environment, wrecking agriculture and infrastructure, killing and displacing millions of people, leaving a landscape of lethal chemicals, heavy metals, and radiation in its wake.
The US military is the biggest single consumer of fossil fuels in the world. And who’s footing the bill? Not the 1 percent–they’re getting rich off war. The rest of us are paying for these wars with our blood, with cutbacks, with the destruction of other countries and societies–but most of all with the environmental IOU that is being passed on to our children.
Climate change is upon us–we need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and go full speed ahead on wind, solar, geothermal, and tidal energy. We need to transition workers out of jobs in oil, gas, coal, and nuclear energy–and into renewable energy. Into good jobs, union jobs, jobs with benefits and safety oversight. Jobs that stay here in the US. And we need to get out of the war business: converting to renewable energy gives us true energy independence and the possibility of peace.
Task Force on War and the Environment
This task force will focus on strengthening the nexus between war and the environment.
As climate change accelerates and increasingly diminishing supplies of fresh water and arable land, resource wars for oil and gas are becoming more frequent and more global in nature. The anti-war movement and the environmental movement have common ground in seeking to change U.S. policy: to conserve precious resources and promote more effective, less destructive, and more peaceful solutions to the effects of climate change.
With the establishment of the Peace and Economic Justice Committee, BFP clearly recognized the connection between the domestic economy and the war machine, and the importance of working in both spheres. With the acceleration of climate change and a U.S. energy policy that is based on “extreme fuels,” (fuels derived from tar sands, deep-water wells, hydrofracking, mountaintopping), it is equally important for the peace movement to develop close ties with the young, dynamic environmental movement. War abroad, social and economic injustice at home, and theft and destruction of the global commons are all part of the whole. A strategic understanding of this interconnection will help BFP broaden its tactical outreach in Brooklyn.
The task force will examine aspects of war and the environment, for example:
- The connection between U.S. energy policy and U.S. foreign policy: e.g., the extent to which U.S. military interventions in the Middle East, North Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere are driven by the need to control access to fossil fuels.
- The direct impact of war on the environment: e.g., the wholesale destruction of forest regions (Southeast Asia; Congo), resulting in a dramatic increase in CO2 emissions; the irradiation of desert areas through the use of depleted-uranium bullets (Gulf War).
- The intensifying use of diminishing planetary resources in order to supply the war machine: e.g., in World War II, the U.S. military consumed 1 gallon of oil per soldier per day; during the Gulf War, this rose to 4 gallons per soldier per day; the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are consuming 16 gallons of oil per soldier per day.
Task force goals will include:
- Developing an analysis of the interconnection between war and the environment through study (suggested initial readings: Michael Klare, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet; John Bellamy Foster, The Vulnerable Planet)
- Educating the broader membership of BFP about war and the environment
- Preparing fact sheets that may augment the work of other BFP committees, notably, the PEJ and the Nuclear Zero committees
- Developing working relationships with relevant sections of the environmental movement
Adopted by BFP Board of Directors 2011-10-06
If you’re interested in working on the Climate Action Task Force, or if you have any comments or questions, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org
People’s Climate March, NYC, September 21, 2014
What a day! Historic, memorable, uplifting, spirited. Estimates of over 300,000 people, young, old and diverse, marching through the streets of our city, just as the world’s political leaders met to discuss climate change at the United Nations.
Brooklyn For Peace joined other peace and justice organizations. But the march represented a vast array of different organizations and just plain citizens concerned about the future of civilization. The spirit was one of camaraderie and a feeling that this movement for change was only just beginning to find itself and that it would grow and become broader and more powerful.
See the photos from the People’s Climate March on Sunday, September 21 from Matthew Weinstein.
We came to wake up and shake up those leaders with simple demands:
ACT NOW to prevent further climate change.
ACT NOW before catastrophic and irreversible damage changes our planet forever.
ACT NOW so that our children and their children will have a planet that they can actually live on.
ACT NOW, not years from now when it will be too late.
We came away, uplifted and optimistic. This is a titanic battle to push back against the enormous monetary power of Big Oil and Big Energy which have shown they control Congress and countries….they have the money….we have the people. It’s a battle for the future of our world as we know it today. The outcome is still undecided but today’s march shows clearly that those ominous forces have not yet won and they’ll have a powerful foe in the hundreds of thousands who marched today.
BFP Forum: Which Way Forward: Climate Chaos or Climate Justice?
Did you miss our Forum: Which Way Forward: Climate Chaos or Climate Justice? (Sept 5, 2014)
See it on YouTube
See Highlights on YouTube:Part I and Part II
(each segment 28 minutes)
For 20 years the United States and its allies have sabotaged global efforts to stop climate change.
- They promote false solutions like carbon trading and “voluntary” emissions reduction.
- They blame developing nations for the crisis, ignoring 250 years of industrial development in Europe and North America.
- They divert climate change funding for poor countries into schemes that profit private corporations.
Time is running out. We are on the brink of irreversible climate change. Why aren’t our leaders acting? Who will suffer? What must we do to create real change?
In the lead-up to the UN Summit on Climate Change in New York City, Brooklyn For Peace – Climate Action sposnored a forum to explore these issues.
>Sean Sweeney: Director, Global Labor Institute, Cornell; organizer, People’s Climate March
>Michael Klare: Author, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources
>Janet Redman: Director, Climate Policy; Institute for Policy Studies
>JJ Johnson: Award-winning labor journalist; former editor, Our Life and Times, 1199 SEIU
Presentation by Gary Goff at the Brooklyn Museum, as part of a “Perspectives Talk” in conjunction with its exhibit on War and Photography.
We usually think of violence as something that is abrupt and explosive-a bomb going off, a bullet finding its mark. The photos on exhibit here tend to reinforce this view. But there is another kind of violence that is increasing worldwide-the violence of climate change. Because it is incremental, it’s mostly invisible or at least not perceived as violence. But we need to reassess this view. Climate change is both violent and largely caused by human activity. It’s as violent as war. People’s homes and livelihoods are destroyed, their countries devastated, their lives taken. According to the UN there have been more than 4 million climate-related deaths since the 1970s.
As starling as that number is, the relationship between war and the environment is more than the high casualty rates they share. Environmental disasters cause wars and wars cause environmental disasters. Let me explain.
Climate Action Rally in Washington, D.C.: Feb. 17, 2013
We came by the tens of thousands – to the nation’s capitol. Our demand was “Save Our Planet.” It was a protest to demand immediate and urgent action to reverse the course of climate change; to change the path of dependency on fossil fuels which is slowly but surely leading to destruction and decline of what has become a fragile environment. (See photos here.)
It was a bitterly cold and windy day but that didn’t us from marching around the White House to tell the President to be true to his words and reject the ominous and hazardous Keystone XL pipeline.
Another World Is Possible: Rethinking the Energy Paradigm: See it on YouTube
What will it take to get rid of dirty fuels and make renewable energy possible?
This was the topic at the forum hosted by Climate Action at the Brooklyn Peace Fair on April 28, 2012. Panelist Lisa DiCaprio, associate professor at NYU and founding member of RenewNEWYORK, says we have the capacity to solarize 165,000 rooftops in New York, but we’re held back by short-sighted funding mechanisms. “We’re facing a planetary emergency,” says Sean Sweeney, director of Cornell’s Global Labor Institute, and the only way we’re going to be able to make the switch from dirty energy is through a democratic planned process. “The movement against fossil fuels needs to embed into its arguments the need for public ownership.”
See Highllights of the Forum on YouTube (28 minutes)
Click on photo to view video