Proposals to Unite for Peace and the Environment

Ron Ridenour

Evidence for climate destruction caused by militarism-wars

Corporate capitalism and its politicians’ “war on terror” is killing, maiming and torturing millions of people, especially in oil rich Middle East and land rich Africa. The wars are forcing tens of millions to flee inside and outside their countries, creating more refugees than since World War 11. These wars are simultaneously choking Mother Earth, polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that spawns our food, eradicating species.

“There is no worse aggression against Mother Earth and her children than war. War destroys life. Nothing and nobody can escape war... Thus, the environment will never be the same after a war. Wars are the greatest waste of life and natural resources,” statesBolivian President Evo Morales in his “10 Commandments to Save the Planet, Humankind and Life”:

The CIA reported in its 2006 Factbook that only 35 countries consume more oil per day than the Pentagon. The Pentagon’s major consultant, LMI Government Consulting, reported in April 2007 that the Pentagon consumed as much as 20 billion liters of oil annually, the number one consumer of petroleum.

With 9/11 came the Bush regime’s “war on terror” against Afghanistan and Iraq, which Obama extended to Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Mali, Somalia, Syria, Ukraine and elsewhere. Besides the murder of millions, the destruction to the environment by exploding bombs and toxins is incalculable. One excellent UK activist website tries to keep up with these disasters: www.toxicremnantsofwar.info

President Morales points to a way out in his “To end with capitalism”. “We know that in order to cure Mother Earth it is necessary to be conscientious that this disease has a name… It is the logic of the capitalist system that is destroying the planet…the endless logic of consumption, of using war as an instrument to obtain markets and appropriate markets and natural resources.” The war profiteers and their politicians lie that there is not enough money for decent social network systems. Yet there is plenty of money for their wars, and plenty of profits.

We must unite peace and environment activism

My Internet search was limited to the Spanish, Danish and English languages, and I found little regarding what peace and environmental groups are doing to unite actions. One exception occurred during the worldwide demonstrations on September 21, 2014, which sought to convince the UN summit on climate change (COP20) to take serious action. Some 200 hundred organizations signed a declaration concerning causes of climate change. Here are extracts:

“Climate change is the result of an unjust economic system…It is crucial for us to unify and strengthen our economic, social and environmental struggles…We need to replace capitalism with a new system that seeks harmony between humans and nature and not an endless growth model…to make more and more profit. We need a system that links climate change and human rights and provides for the protection of most vulnerable communities like migrants, and recognizes the rights of Indigenous peoples.”

One of the responses to the world's environmental problems made in this declaration was to: Dismantle the war industry and military infrastructure in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by warfare, and divert war budgets to promote genuine peace.
http://viacampesina.org/en/index.php/actions-and-events-mainmenu-26/-climate-change-and-agrofuels-mainmenu-75/1664-invitation-to-sign-on-statement-to-denounce-corporate-takeover-of-climate-summit

In Denmark, where I live, we have only one small anti-war group that tries to unite the issues, but after 18 months of struggle no environmental group joins with us. Tid Til Fred – aktiv mod krig (Time for Peace – active against war) seeks to: raise consciousness and understanding about militarism/wars as the major cause of mass murder, the forced flight of people and environmental damage; unite actions against wars, for refugees and for the environment; we strive to force the government to react to our actions and stop their wars (www.tidtilfred.nu).

Promoting Enduring Peace (www.pepeace.org ) wrote in its January 2016 call: “War is a major contributor to the decline in climate and other living conditions for humans and other species…Warfare is increasing worldwide while the peace movement is fragmented and mass marches and actions are few and far between. We want to revive the movement. We want to gather… peace/environment/social justice movements and important writers…to discuss new structures, new ways of working…to build a powerful movement...The peace movement must stick to its principles and not take the pressure off politicians and parties just because they make anti-war promises. Our primary tool is direct action: protest, civil disobedience, boycotts.”

Here are some proposals for how, where and why the peace and environmental movements could work together. Both movements could join hands at the same places. They could agree to conduct civil disobedience actions separately or together, or there could be a combination of action forms.

  • Breakfree 2016.org is organizing resistance from May 4-15 to keep coal, oil and gas in the ground. Many large environmental groups as well as indigenous peoples are involved in the US, UK, Germany, Turkey, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, Philippines, Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa. It would be even greater to incorporate proposals and actions to stop wars since the weapons industry and its wars damage the planet, and the fossil fuel industry benefits from wars.
  • In August the actions in memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki could bring peace and environmental groups together. Greenpeace started in 1971 by protecting the planet and thereby advocating disarmament. Its peace work has dallied but it still stands for: “an end all nuclear threats; promote peace, global disarmament and nonviolence.”
  • The IPB world congress will take place in Berlin from September 30-October 3, under the banner, “Disarm! For a climate of peace – creating an action agenda”. This could be a perfect venue for all peace and environmental organizations to participate: “war creates climate catastrophes”!
  • COP 22 in November-December should be considered a major venue for environmental, peace, and social organizations to join hands against war and climate change. Massive civil disobedience actions should be prepared to curb The Machine. And on December 10, International Human Rights Day, could also be a unity day for human rights for all, support for refugees, stop wars and stop using fossil fuels.

Why these two important movements need to unite, at least in some actions, should be clear: the planet can not be saved as long as there are massively destructive wars. Furthermore, most of the major wars are fought over fossil fuel resources. Nearly all organizations seek to build an identity and do not wish to dissolve or merge into other groups. But action coalitions should not be a threat to organizations politically. I believe that this process once set in motion could and should lead to deeper unity between the two great movements looking toward a people’s front for “real change”, that is, an economic and political system not based on endless profit that requires war and environmental destruction.

A key challenge to such unity is that many environmental groups are financed by private donors and foundations, some of whom are not anti-war. Some groups are NGOs which receive money from governments, which make war. Another key challenge is that many people see no other choice but to let the West and Russia war against Daesh whose terror is limitless. Furthermore, many environmentalists are not leftists while most peace activists tend to be left oriented. Nevertheless, peoples’ fronts have been formed in which political differences has not played the decisive role.

We have wandered the deserts and the seas. We have been hungry and thirsty. We have been tortured and murdered. We are of the working class, of the castes; we are many colors and nationalities. We share a common vision: peace, freedom, equality, shelter, bread and water for all. To live in peace and harmony with ourselves and nature we must struggle together.