Strengthening the Climate and Peace Conversation

Peace Advocate September 2022

Alexandria Villaseñor, 13, speaks at the climate strike in City Hall Park, New York City, on March 15, 2019. Millions of students across the world walked out of that day to protest climate change.
Alexandria Villaseñor, 13, speaks at the climate strike in City Hall Park, New York City, on March 15, 2019. Millions of students across the world walked out of class that day to protest climate change. Photo: Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/Alamy

by Rosalie Anders 

 

How can we work most effectively in our work for peace when it is so low on most voters’ priority lists, and the military/industrial juggernaut is so powerful?  How can we make a dent in the greenhouse gas emissions that keep climbing, despite climate change staring us in the face in the form of heat, droughts, and floods?  The MAPA Peace and Climate group is working to bring the issues more closely together in people’s thinking and strategy to help strengthen our voice.   We are talking with climate groups (most of us belong to at least one) and promoting a webinar by Veterans for Peace that deals with these issues.    

Peace and climate are linked:

The US military’s environmental footprint.  In 2017, it was responsible for 59 million tons of C02 emissions, more than many entire industrialized nations, and hundreds of toxic waste sites in the US and around the world.

The tax dollars spent on the military rather than on climate mitigation or meeting other human needs.  The one-year 2023 military budget is $813 billion dollars.   The climate spending in the legislation moving through Congress is $369 billion spread over ten years. 

The promotion of an adversarial relationship with other nations, rather than the cooperation needed to deal with climate change.  The world needs to be working together to solve the crisis we all face.   Aiming weapons at each other is not conducive to collaboration.

The potential for widespread violence around the world as drought, flooding, and other climate disasters upend the lives of hundreds of millions of people.  The Pentagon recognizes this threat but is trapped in its system, which keeps exacerbating the problem.

The Peace and Climate group is helping to spread the word.    We have organized a teach-in, as well as webinars, most recently an outstanding webinar from Veterans for Peace.   We’re working to get this webinar out to other groups.   

As activists, it’s important that we engage in protest—stop pipelines, stop new weapons systems, close military bases, close coal plants, etc.   Increasingly, however, we need to offer positive alternatives.  We need to promote widespread discussion of what true security is, and what are effective alternatives to war.

Within the climate movement efforts to develop a different way of thinking about economics is spreading.   The idea of degrowth, which says that pursuing the widely accepted goal of economic growth leads to accelerating planetary destruction, is gaining momentum, and members of our group are looking at what this means and how an economic system based on growth can be changed.    Such an economic system would call into question many of our military goals and policies.  These are not new ideas, but as the failures of the present systems and the need for profound change become more apparent, there are new opportunities to move them forward.  


The peace and climate cochairs are Rosalie Anders (Rosalie.h.anders@gmail.com), Kate Cloud (kcloud949@gmail.com)  and John Macdougall (John_Macdougall@ uml.edu).  We welcome everyone’s ideas.

 

– Rosalie Anders, a retired environmental planner, is a member of the Mass. Peace Action Board of Directors and co-chair of its Climate and Peace working group.