Militarism and the Environment
May 20, 2003
Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC)
Militarism and the Environment: What's the connection?
Militarism and the Environment: What's the connection? In an era of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons, war has become an extremely destructive enterprise.
Increasingly, warfare has become an event that predominantly affects civilian populations instead of opposing militaries, and the damage to ecosystems that results from warfare has become more intensive than at any other time in human history.
And yet war is not just an event. Even in so-called "times of peace," the physical preparations for war, the diversion of resources from domestic infrastructure, and the militaristic values that pervade our society incur an unaccounted for degree of violence upon the Earth and its people. This "peacetime" violence is difficult to differentiate from the sort of violence inflicted during times of war, except that the responsible parties are most often our government and the militaries that are supposed to be protecting us.
¨ Virtually all of the world's nuclear bomb test sites, as well as most uranium mines and radioactive dumps, occupy Native lands.
¨ 91 U.S. bases with over 1,600 active toxic cleanup sites have been slated for closure since 1989.
¨ The Department of Defense is the country's largest user of the carcinogen trichloroethylene (TCE) and the ozone-destroyer chlorofluorocarbon (CFC), and is the largest purchaser of oil, paper, many precious metals, as well as a host of other resources.
¨ The military has generated more toxics annually than the five top chemical companies combined for the last several years.
The question must therefore be asked:
if the institutions that are supposed to protect us foul our air and water at an alarming rate drain vast amounts of domestic resources degrade our civil liberties discriminate against people based on their race, class, gender, and sexual preference and foster a culture of violence and exploitation, ...what is it that these institutions are trying to protect?
Take Action! The environmental community cannot afford to be silent on the issue of militarism any longer. We must recognize, at least, that the US Dept. of Defense is one of the world's largest polluters, and is responsible for a degree of environmental degradation that can only be referred to as ecological genocide across the globe. In collaboration with the Military Toxics Project, the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, and the National Youth/Student Peace Coalition, SEAC will be investigating the links between militarism and the degradation of our environment, and encouraging our members to get involved with this struggle. Together we will educate ourselves and act upon:
The encroachment of the military in our schools through JROTC and ROTC programs, military/campus research projects, and the investments our colleges/universities make in corporations that produce weapons of mass destruction
The diversion of resources towards war and preparations for war and away from pressing domestic needs such as education, environmental cleanup, health care, and poverty assistance
The military's exemption from major environmental legislation such the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act
The disproportionate degree to which low-income communities and communities of color are exposed to military pollution
The increasingly civilian and ecological implications of modern warfare
The increasing reliance upon military solutions to problems that are civilian in nature We hope that you will join us in this important endeavor as we continue to challenge the power structure that threatens the physical, economic, political and cultural conditions in which we live. Call or email SEAC if you'd like to get involved.