Working towards peace and sustainability

Connecting the Climate and Militarism

Many of us compartmentalize important issues, failing to recognize how most issues are more symptoms rather than causes. They then tend to see these concerns competing with each other for the attention of citizens, when, in fact, they complement each other. This means that work that gets to the root of things can actually move us forward on multiple fronts.

As Memorial Day is coming up next Monday, let’s take this as a starting point. While Memorial Day started out as a holiday to remember those who lost their lives in war—a day for decorating graves with flowers—it has evolved into another opportunity to wave the flag and, in many places, celebrate the weapons of war.

While recognizing the pain and loss that war brings and honoring the memory of the fallen is a positive action that would logically lead to a rejection of war-making, this message has been largely co-opted into a “Support the Troops” trope, which is interpreted as “Support the Wars the Troops Have Been Sent to Fight.” Thankfully, our good friends in Veterans for Peace (VFP) have stayed true to the somber task of memorializing those who we’ve lost in war.

Peaceworks, therefore, is proud to co-sponsor the Memorial Day peace gathering that VFP will be holding at Stephens Lake Park, starting at noon, Monday, May 30. You can find details HERE
and we hope you will join us.

What’s the Climate Connection?

We, of course, oppose war and militarism because they are barbaric; they involve killing and maiming others, destroying life and both the built and natural environments, and they are very costly, with huge opportunity costs; that is there are much better things that could be done with the money spent.

But, in addition there are specific climate concerns that go with a highly militarized economy. These include:

  The military burns enormous amounts of petroleum fuels for planes, ships and other vehicles. Overall, the U.S. military is the world’s largest single consumer of fossil fuels.

  The extraction of materials, processing thereof, and fabricating the materiel of war, including weapons, vehicles, munitions and more, is also energy intensive and thus has an oversized carbon footprint.

  As we’ve seen in recent pictures from Ukraine, war entails destroying buildings, roads and other infrastructure that took significant energy to construct and will require the use of lots more energy to replace.

  Climate change, if not addressed promptly, is almost certain to lead to the dislocation of tens if not hundreds of millions of climate refugees, leaving inundated coastal communities, and regions experiencing severe drought and/or heat that will make regions of the planet uninhabitable. This will likely lead to conflict as some countries close their borders, as the availability of food is limited, etc. It would be much better to prevent these problems than to respond to them militarily later on.

  As mentioned above, war and militarism are very costly in the economic realm and the money being wasted on unnecessary military spending could be much better utilized by investing in addressing the real security threats we face. At the top of that list is dealing ASAP with the climate crisis.

What are the Root Connections?

Our participation in war and militarism goes hand in glove with our view of the environment as something to dominate, control and employ in pursuit of our own desires as opposed to sharing and caring for nature and other people. This is part of a top-down system that defines success as winning vis-à-vis others.

We are taught from childhood that we succeed by outdoing and controlling others. Our culture is atomistic and we are taught to prioritize winning, whether in sports, in the academic realm, in social hierarchies, and in terms of our careers, our status and possessions, etc. We are also taught that might makes right—both physical and, more importantly, economic and social power.

The system of hierarchy and control is evident in the garrison states humanity has created all around the planet, as well as in our addiction to burning ever larger amounts of fossil fuels without concern for the Earth or for the generations to come after us. We prioritize “me” and fail to care for “we;” a we that includes all beings and the fragile balance of life.

The time has come for us to get to the root of so many of the problems created by humanity and now threatening not just our well-being, but rather our very survival. We hope you, in the Green Team, will join us in working for a thoroughgoing transformation of our culture to one that’s co-operative, peaceful, just and sustainable. We also hope you will join us on Memorial Day.