We are at a crossroads, faced with a climate crisis that threatens to end our world as we know it.
The signs of climate change are all around us. They include—increasingly severe weather everywhere (floods, heat waves, droughts, cyclones and wildfires), as well as melting polar ice and glaciers, rising acidic oceans, and thawing of Siberian permafrost, which threatens release of huge, devastating, methane gas emissions.
If we pursue business as usual we face a world of food shortages caused by drought, increasing disease and deaths, and displacement from vast areas of flooded and uninhabitable terrain. We must do all in our power to stop greenhouse gas emissions, counteract the effects, and prevent the increase of global warming.
But the developing climate emergency does not exist in isolation. And we must understand and confront the social and economic context that produced and accompanies it: war and unlimited military expenditures, corporate globalization, vast social inequality and racism.
- The US military is the single greatest institutional producer of greenhouse gases in the world.
- Wars by their very nature destroy the environment and burn and release massive amounts of greenhouse gases. Recent military mobilizations are pouring huge amounts of new carbon emissions into the atmosphere.
- The vast expenditures now consumed by military machines are the very resources needed for a crash program to rapidly create a renewable energy infrastructure and put millions of people to work in green jobs.
- Wars and military buildup are in large part dedicated to controlling the fossil fuel energy sources on which our present model of global economic development and endless growth depend. Resort to armed conflict is increasing as fossil fuels become more expensive and difficult to extract, transport and produce.
- Nuclear weapons, like climate change, threaten to destroy the world. There are nine nuclear-armed nations and 17,000 nuclear weapons in the world. With ten wars and 34 limited conflicts now occurring, the chance of any one of them escalating to nuclear war and its unthinkable human and environmental impact is an ever-present specter. The nuclear powers are bound, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to disarm all nuclear weapons everywhere, but after 44 years, they have not begun comprehensive negotiations. In the words of President Kennedy, we must “end these weapons of mass destruction, before they end us.”
- Corporate dominance and extreme social inequality are intrinsic to our expansionist global economic model.
- The UN Millennium Development Goals in conjunction with other forces have helped lift the poorest billion of humanity out of extreme poverty. The damage now coming as a result of climate change threatens to erase that progress.
- The people most affected by climate change are those with the fewest resources to deal with it. With increasing environmental destruction, droughts, floods, and famine, there will be massive displacement of impoverished and desperate people leading to forced migration and regional hostilities. Within the U.S., the people most affected include those in prison or nursing homes and others who lack resources to leave their homes or institutions in storms like Katrina and Sandy.
- Two examples of long-term-drought-induced Climate Wars are the tragedies in Somalia and Syria. In the latter case, a five-year drought was one of the contributors to an ongoing civil war. Somalia has been at war for twenty years, and that conflict has also embroiled neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.
- Rather than taking emergency measures to address climate change and the needs of those impacted now, our military is preparing to control these displacements to protect “US interests”.
We who have opposed the toxic, polluting, life- and earth-destroying wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the existential threat of nuclear weapons are in total support of the People’s Climate March and its vision of a world without fossil fuels and the fires of war. We will march, we will demand divestment and fight denial, we will battle the pollution of Big Money, and we will join in demanding that the Obama administration step forward to achieve a 2015 global treaty to phase out greenhouse gas emissions.
We call on all who want to preserve our planet to form a Stop the Wars, Stop the Warming Contingent on September 21. We organize under the following principles:
- We can’t effectively address climate change without ending war and militarism;
- We can’t end war without ending the fossil fuel energy system;
- We can’t address social injustice unless we stop using war to safeguard an economic infrastructure (based on fossil fuels) that produces and requires vast social inequality.
- We can’t end war unless we address the systemic inequality and corporate domination that requires it.
- We must insist that the transition to a sustainable economy and green jobs not be accomplished at the expense of those now employed in the fossil fuel and military sectors and the communities in which they work and live. Energy and armament corporations should bear the lion’s share of the social cost to make that transition a just one.
We call on our government
- To undertake an emergency program to make all our cities energy efficient and to create a new energy grid based on renewable energy sources.
- To end federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industries—coal, gas, oil and industrial biomass
- To end the 2005 “Cheney exemption” to the Clean Water Act for gas hydraulic fracking, which threatens clean water supplies to our people in some 23 states. Strictly enforce the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts of 1970, in all energy production.
- To stop building new fossil fuel infrastructure, including the Keystone pipeline project, and to rapidly end fracking projects and the awarding of any new offshore drilling contracts.
- To build a carbon-free, nuclear-free energy future and end subsidies for nuclear power. Nuclear power is not a green alternative energy, results in large amounts of radioactive nuclear waste, and contributes to the global proliferation of nuclear weapons.
- To implement a financial transaction tax to fund the new solar, wind, hydro, and efficiency programs we need globally and to help clean up the toxic mess of fossil and nuclear destruction.
- To join with all nuclear powers to abide by their treaty commitments and to move quickly toward mutual abolition of all nuclear weapons as required by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- To re-direct military spending to the creation of millions of green jobs and to research and develop a rapid but just transition from fossil fuels to non-polluting energy sources.
- To stop the military protection of fossil fuel interests in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world.
- To bring all our troops home now from Afghanistan and Iraq, reject military attacks in Iraq, Syria and Iran, and use the billions saved to invest in energy efficient mass transit, schools, affordable housing and sustainable union-standard jobs.
- To redefine the mission of U.S. military forces as defense of the United States instead of achieving “Full Spectrum Dominance” in the service of global corporations, the fossil fuel industry, and the military industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned against, thereby also allowing closure of most of our 1,000 or more foreign military bases.
- To stop blocking the proposals for effective international action on climate change being put forward by the Group of 77 and other developing countries, starting at the UN on September 23, 2014. All countries must do something, but the countries which are most responsible for carbon emissions have the larger responsibility to commit resources, resulting in an 85% cut in greenhouse gases by 2050. The wealthier developed countries should provide $100 billion to an international fund for green industrial development in less developed countries.
We can’t afford the greenhouse gas emissions arising from the way we live and from war and preparation for war. And we can’t afford the climate of mistrust and non-cooperation that military threats and intervention foster.
To successfully avert worst-case climate disaster we will need international agreements and cooperation on a scale not seen in the past; we need new approaches in order to demilitarize US foreign policy and humanize domestic policy.
We believe that most Americans will welcome these positive changes. Working together, peace, climate and social justice activists can help make this happen.
We see September 21st as the coming together of the peace, climate and social justice movements and the beginning of a groundswell of public involvement in the creation of a more peaceful, sustainable and just world.
Ed Aguilar, Coalition for Peace Action
Rosalie Anders, Massachusetts Peace Action & 350 Massachusetts
Jim Barton, North Carolina Peace Action
Phyllis Bennis, Institute for Policy Studies
Leslie Cagan, People’s Climate March
Michael Eisenscher, U.S. Labor Against the War
Julie Enslow, Wisconsin Peace Action
Joseph Gerson, American Friends Service Committee
Cole Harrison, Massachusetts Peace Action
Tom Hayden, Peace and Justice Resource Center
Patricia Hynes, Traprock Center for Peace & Justice
Rosemary Kean, Dorchester People for Peace
Judith LeBlanc, Peace Action
Duncan McFarland, United for Justice with Peace (Greater Boston)
Siri Margerin, UnIted for Peace and Justice & Civilian Soldier Alliance
Marty Nathan, Climate Action NOW!
Paul Shannon, American Friends Service Committee
Alice Slater, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
David Swanson, World Beyond War
Susan Theberge, Climate Action NOW!
(organizations for identification only)
David Swanson wants you to declare peace at http://WorldBeyondWar.org His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs athttp://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson andFaceBook.