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It’s Only Logical

Tom Mayer, a retired professor friend of mine, recently posted a blog about his experience talking to a group of seniors about the “American Empire.” He said that while some agreed with him, the majority didn’t think there was such a thing. I was particularly interested in his summary of our global military presence because of the relationship between it, “business as usual,” and global warming.

He wrote that the U.S. “has over 1,000 foreign military bases located in over 100 countries. U.S. annual military expenditures are over one-third of the world total and exceed the military expenditures of the next eight countries combined. We are the unrivaled world leader in developing and deploying military technology. The U.S. has made over 80 extensive military interventions since World War Two.”

Few things are more obvious than our country’s imperial nature and the domestic military-industrial complex is one of the principal engines driving our economy. This is an environmental disaster because the United States military, which is exempt from green regulation, is the largest single source of pollution on the planet. The demands of maintaining our empire pose a grave environmental threat to complex life on our planet. Given this, it is only logical that we can’t make the changes to our economy necessary to curb runaway global warming, consequent climate change and resource depletion without dismantling our global empire and converting the military-industrial complex.

That’s a monumentally daunting task. It will take massive domestic and international movements to mount a serious challenge to these forces. But there are already large numbers, perhaps even millions, of people worldwide who are doing just that. Some don’t put it that way, but nevertheless it is what they are doing. Through its divestment campaign and calls for an end to “business as usual,” 350.org (far from the most radical green organization) states that 3/4 of the world’s known fossil fuel supply must remain in the ground. How can that happen without turning off the military’s gas pumps? Just try to power a fighter jet with solar panels or an aircraft carrier with wind turbines.

It is, therefore, only logical that we cannot ally ourselves with, or back those who support, the military-industrial complex if we wish to stave off world-wide climate-generated catastrophe.

Both Republican and Democratic National Parties are solidly behind the military-industrial complex. While there are local, possibly even statewide, exceptions, exceptions are all they are. For the past 40 years, the vast majority of the two big party’s federal legislative candidates, as well as all of their presidential nominees, have been whole-hearted, military-industrial complex boosters. Nothing will change in 2016, except one presidential nominee may be a woman.

If we must end business as usual to save ourselves, and if this requires us to take on the military-industrial complex, we cannot accomplish this within the framework of the Republicrat duopoly. Whatever you think about voting for one particularly good Democrat (or Republican - good luck finding one), logic dictates that we must focus on working outside of this system. As I’ve written before, we can’t engage in politics as usual to defeat business as usual.

It’s only logical.  Read More 
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Scream Bloody Murder

In Boston last week I spent a morning circumnavigating Jamaica Pond with a good friend. Of course we addressed the state of the world, and inevitably we came around to considering the approaching environmental crises. We agreed that we had to change the nature of our economic system to avoid catastrophe. But my friend, an effective activist who focuses on immigrant rights and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, said, “When it comes to the environment, I’m paralyzed. What can we do? So I’ll keep working on helping the undocumented.”

I had no good response. My friend and I both support the divestment campaign of 350.org, but neither of us have significant connections with institutions that own fossil fuel company stock. I suggested that we try to get Massachusetts to develop an application to enable people to determine their carbon footprint (CF). The state should give a $50 or $100 tax credit to everyone who uses the application and reports their CF when filing their taxes. I reasoned the more people know about their footprint, the more concrete steps they can take to reduce it, and the more strenuously they’ll demand that massive institutional polluters do the same. My friend wondered if people would cheat, and if such an individual focus would do much good. Then we moved on to other topics.

But I kept thinking about the paralysis so many of us feel, knowing we must make massive changes. Short of calling for revolution, however, we can only come up with small ideas like mine. I’m not paralyzed, but I’m hobbling along haltingly when I should be striding purposefully forward. Is having people learn their carbon footprint all I can think of?

I wish I had responded that another thing we can do is scream bloody murder. I don’t mean we should dash about shrieking that the sky is falling (although that’s pretty close to the truth.) I mean we should use whatever medium we are comfortable with, every available situation we’re in, to write, talk and demonstrate about it. The one thing we should not do is ignore the situation or remain silent because it is too unpleasant.

Screaming bloody murder isn’t much of a plan. But if many of us make enough noise to create a growing buzz in social settings, more people will become involved. If more people get involved, more minds will be working on the problem. Maybe my little idea about knowing your carbon footprint will catch on and make a difference, or maybe others will come up with one, two or a dozen better plans. More engaged minds make it more likely that someone or some group will think of strategies, methods and actions that will spark the mass movement we need.

Even if all we do to begin with is talk more about it, it is bound to make a difference. Anyone can do it, and those who do will be a little less paralyzed and, I bet, feel better for our effort.  Read More 
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