ALLIANCE FOR PEACE AND JUSTICE
WAR AND ENVIRONMENT COMMITTEE
“The ecological effects of war, like its horrific toll on human life, are exponential” – Jeffrey St. Claire and Joshua Frank
The madness and horror of war’s impact is gauged or measured by the human toll of suffering and death. But just as the returning caskets of our fallen soldiers are kept from the camera’s eye, or the monetary costs are kept ‘off-budget’; the environmental carnage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – as with the wars in Africa – are out of sight and mind.
While the precepts of sustainability and climate change are, at present, powering environmental movements to reduce greenhouse gasses, develop wind and solar alternatives and create ‘green jobs’, the single most egregious polluter, the most toxic industrial felon and the industry with the largest carbon footprint – war – is free from all constraint. And, while ecologically conscious Americans are switching to hybrid cars, walking, car-pooling or bicycling to reduce their carbon footprint, the Pentagon is the largest single consumer of petroleum in the world, burning 3.5 million gallons of fuel every day on the Iraq and Afghan (2006) occupations and using enough oil in one year to run all of the transit systems in the United States for the next fourteen to twenty-one years. This imbalance turns all domestic conservation efforts into a de facto rationing program for the war effort.
From atomic weapon’s testing, agent-orange, napalm, carpet bombing and landmines to the use of white phosphorus and depleted uranium munitions, the toll upon ecosystems, endangered species and generations of indigenous peoples, from South East Asia to South West Nevada, has been tragic and criminal. According to St. Clair and Frank: “Depleted uranium has a half-life of four (4) billion years – approximately the age of the Earth. Thus, thousands of acres in Kuwait and southern Iraq have been….contaminated forever.”
We of the Alliance for Peace and Justice believe that there can be no separation between the struggle to end war and the fight to save our ecosystems or ward off the ravages of climate change. The lesson of our time – a time of globalization and planetary consciousness – is that everyone, everywhere, is affected by the destruction of an ecosystem anywhere on Earth.
Therefore, the anti-war movement is an environmental movement and the reverse must also become true. Stated simply by our brothers and sisters of the Wisconsin network for Peace and Justice: “The Earth can’t afford war anymore”.
Quotes are from a 2004 article by Jeffrey St. Claire and Joshua Frank titled, “Iraq’s Wrecked Environment” and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice flyer.
Here are links to articles referenced and sourced in writing this position statement:
“Iraq’s Wrecked Environment” by Jeffrey St Claire and Joshua Frank, 2004
“War Ravages Afghan Environment” by Joshua Frank, 2009
“The Carbon Footprint of War” by Bruce E Johansen, pdf. Flyer