War, Peace and the Environment

As I wrote yesterday, I believe the environmental movement is today’s peace movement. The multiple rounds of severe thunderstorms, tornados, rain and flooding are leaving more and more places looking like war zones. Environmental war zones.

As I thought more about this idea, I remembered Nahko Bear speaking about peace for our Mother. Following are words and a video of Nahko talking to the water protector youth during his concert at Standing Rock September 8, 2016.  This is an example of what he often says between songs.  To put this in context, this was just 5 days after security forces used attack dogs against the water protectors, men, women and children. He was speaking to these young people while they were in the middle of their nonviolent resistance. This is, unfortunately, another aspect of environmental war, military attacks against water protectors. Many states are passing unconstitutional bills to criminalize protests against pipelines.

Remember that nonviolent direct action is the way to a successful revolution.  And that is a hard one, because they are so bad (chuckles).  When they come at us you just want to hit ’em, you know?  Just sit with that.  I know it’s tough.  They’re going to try to do everything they can to instigate you.  But remember what we’re here for.  We’re here to create peace for our Mother.  We’re not here to create more violence.

When you’re feeling bad, when you’re feeling frustrated, put all your prayer into your palms, put them to the ground, put them back to the sky, honor the Father, the Mother, just know it will be alright.

Are you guys feeling proud, are you proud of yourselves?  Because the whole world is watching.  The whole world is watching.  So whatcha gonna do?  Gonna show love?  Are you gonna be smart?  You gonna think before you act?  Take care of each other?  You’re gonna show ‘em what family does.  They don’t know what that’s like.

You gotta put down the weight, gotta get out of your way. Get out of your way and just look around the corner at your real self and look at all the potential that this beautiful Earth and love has to offer you

Nahko Bear, Water Protector Youth Concert, 9/8/2016
Nahko Bear, Water Protector Youth Concert, 9/8/2016
#NODAPL #MniWiconi #RezpectOurWater #AllNationsYouth

Thank you, Nahko, for sharing your music and energy with the Water Protectors camp. A powerful night of music.

Lakota Peoples Law Project, Sep 12, 2016

It is probably more accurate to say the environmental movement is part of the peace movement. There continues to be armed conflict. The United States has a military presence in some 80 countries. The system of checks and balances, including the requirement that Congress must approve declarations of war, has been eroded by the approval of the Authorization to use Military Force (AUMF), the last authorization having been approved in 2001. May 21st, the House Appropriations Committee voted for an amendment from Representative Barbara Lee (CA) to repeal that AUMF. Now is the time to contact your Congressional Representatives to support the repeal of the AUMF when it comes to a vote in the House.

“A nearly 18-year-old, all but limitless authorization for war is neither a responsible nor a sustainable foundation for our national security or national security policy,” said FCNL Executive Secretary Diane Randall. “Repealing the 2001 AUMF would serve as a significant step forward toward reining in never-ending war and militarism abroad. It also makes certain that our elected leaders are on record for which wars they support and which wars they do not.”

Diane Randall, Executive Secretary for Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)

I also came across the notes of a of presentation given by Dr Stuart Parkinson, Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR), at the Network for Peace AGM, London, 10 February 2007, He points out the cycle that can occur, with conflict over resources causing environmental damage, which can lead to further conflict to get resources, including to replenish those that were consumed in the original conflict. The U.S. Military is one of the largest consumers of fossil fuels. Any plan to transition away from fossil fuels must address military consumption.

Guns and Global Warming: War, Peace and the Environment

Main Points

  • Two key environmental dimensions of war:
    • Conflict over environmental resources
    • Conflict causes environmental impacts
  • The two can combine and cause a cyclical effect – conflict causing environmental impacts can damage the resource base and lead to further conflict

Key changes needed

  • Urgent need to reduce consumption of fossil fuels, especially oil, through:
    • lifestyle change – eg greater use of public transport, using smaller cars, car-sharing, holidaying closer to home
    • energy efficiency technologies – eg more fuel-efficient vehicles, better home insulation
    • renewable energy technologies – wind, solar, biomass, water (hydro, wave, tidal), geothermal
    • government policies and measures to support these changes, eg eco-taxes, carbon trading, regulation, R&D support
    • strengthening of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, especially binding targets on the biggest emitters (the largest being the USA) based on “Contraction and Convergence” principles
  • Urgent need to stem the global flow of weapons, especially small arms in poorer countries whose environmental resources are under stress and conflict may occur
    • need strengthening of UN programme of action on eradicating illegal small arms
    • need countries to agree a UN arms trade treaty
    • USA, which has highest levels of small arms in private hands and is world’s largest arms exporter, is resisting these efforts
  • Urgent need to support post-conflict reconstruction and conflict prevention activities
    • Only receives a small amount of funding
  • In 2005, the world spent over $1.1 trillion ($1,100,000,000,000) on its military forces – continuing a rising trend. Diverting at least some of this spending could help achieve the aims above, reducing the likelihood of conflict.
  • Reducing dependence on military forces as a way of dealing with international problems will also help reduce their carbon emissions!
  • The power of corporations, especially military corporations, with their ability to lobby for favourable policies needs to be curbed.

References: United Nations (2006, 2007); Control Arms Campaign (2007); SIPRI (2006)

It is key to work closely across the different issues. Environment and development campaigners are starting to work together on issues such as climate change – more alliances are needed between peace campaigners and environment and development groups

Guns and Global Warming: War, Peace and the Environment

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