My activism began in 1969 as an 18 year old Quaker struggling with my decision to register with the Selective Service System (draft). The 1960′ s were a traumatic time with the horrors of the Vietnam War and the often violent response to the nonviolence of the Civil Rights movement on television screens every night. Those struggles settled down for a number of reasons. But war was always ready to erupt again, and did. Racial justice has not been achieved.
After an extended spiritual struggle I turned in my draft cards and became a draft resister.
I joined the Friends Volunteer Service Mission while in my early 20’s to live and work with kids in inner city Indianapolis. While there, I was led to work to protect Mother Earth. That has been my journey since.
I’ve seen of how armed conflict was evolving since that time. The move to a volunteer army, limited conflicts, the idea of being able to kill those defined as terrorists, remote death by drone strikes that killed many innocent bystanders and Congress not accepting its responsibility to declare war have resulted in endless wars with nations with oil.
I’ve also been increasingly concerned by the multiple causes and results of environmental damage, not just for myself but for all my relations. Continuingly frustrated, sometimes angry at the lack of concern and action to stop poisoning our land, air and water. Astonished at the discovery of increasingly complex, interrelated environmental threats and their ramifications.
We’re waging war against Mother Earth. I believed nothing could be more important than to try to mitigate the damage. Environmental chaos is an existential threat to all life. Massive numbers of animals, birds and people have died. Many species are now extinct. We are likely to join them.
My focus on environmental devastation has meant I haven’t spent much time on other things that are important to me–peace, poverty, homelessness, racial injustice, and immigration. But all of those are significantly influenced by our voracious demand for fossil fuels.
The recent escalating military actions involving the U.S. and Iran have made me reevaluate whether I should pay more attention to anti-war efforts. It seemed to be a choice between work on the evolving environmental chaos or for peace. But the two are intertwined in many ways, so it isn’t really a choice between one or the other. The U.S. military is by far the largest consumer of fossil fuels, and therefore producer of greenhouse gas emissions.
One of the best reasons to dramatically scale back military operations is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
National governments spend trillions of dollars to maintain a military machine that globally possesses an estimated 16,300 nuclear weapons, consumes vast quantities of oil and diverts large amounts of resources, which could otherwise be used to address the issue of climate change.No War No Warming
Say NO to a system which accepts the logic of thousands of weapons of mass destruction and the continual consumption of fossil fuels which science has shown is leading down a path of environmental, social and economic destruction.
And although misleading statements are made to justify wars, all of our recent wars, i.e. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, have been to protect fossil fuel sources.
Bill McKibben states “If the world ran on sun, it wouldn’t fight over oil. The climate crisis isn’t the only reason to kick fossil fuels – the prospect of a war to protect Saudi crude reminds us of that.”
Were it not for oil, the Middle East would not be awash in expensive weapons; its political passions would matter no more to the world than those of any other corner of our Earth. Were it not for oil, we would not be beholden to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia – indeed, we might be able to bring ourselves to forthrightly condemn its savagery. Were it not for oil, we would never have involved ourselves in a ruinous war with Iraq, destabilising an entire region. (I remember the biting slogan on a sign from an early protest against the war with Saddam Hussein: “How did our oil end up under their sand?”)If the world ran on sun, it wouldn’t fight over oil by Bill McKibben, The Guardian, Sept 18, 2019.
But this iteration of the opera is different in one way. An unspoken truth hangs over the whole predictable scene: this will be the first oil war in an age when we widely recognise that we needn’t depend on oil any longer.
No one will ever fight a war over access to sunshine – what would a country do, set up enormous walls to shade everyone else’s panels? (Giant walls are hard to build – just ask Trump.) Fossil fuels are concentrated in a few places, giving those who live atop them enormous power; renewable energy can be found everywhere, the birthright of all humans. A world that runs on sun and wind is a world that can relax.