For months a movement has been developing that consciously and intentionally links the related issues of the war in Iraq/oil wars and the heating up of the earth that is disrupting the world’s climate. On Monday morning, October 22, in Washington , DC on Capitol Hill and elsewhere around the country, that movement will become visible as large numbers of people engage in nonviolent direct action to disrupt business as usual. We will be calling for an end to this criminal war and strong action to slow, stop and reverse global warming (www.nowarnowarming.org).
These issues are connected, of course, by oil. Everyone who’s got their head screwed on straight knows that the reason for the invasion of Iraq was oil. The US government is occupying Iraq both for its oil and to try to turn it into a US-friendly military base from which it can better control the entire region.
Why? It’s not just because Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice, Wolfowitz and the neo-cons are motivated by we’re-the-rulers-of-the-world ideology. There is actually a perverse logic to what they’re doing, particularly given their personal connections to the oil industry.
The US and the world are in a deepening energy crisis. Easily accessible oil and natural gas are getting hard to find even as the demand for and competition over energy throughout the world accelerates. There is agreement among those who study this issue that we are either right at or very soon will be at “peak oil,” a point where as much oil that is in the ground will have been found and used as there is oil still remaining. And the big problem is that those remaining reserves are getting harder and more expensive to bring out of the ground.
There is a common sense solution to this dilemma. Instead of war in Iraq escalating into war with Iran and who knows where else, the US could lead the world by using its technological know-how and resources to advance a worldwide clean energy revolution. We could rapidly undercut the appeal of Al-Qaeda by withdrawing our troops from the Middle East and promoting, instead, huge solar energy farms in this sun-drenched region of the world. We could help the formerly colonized countries of the Global South who are currently developing their economies by using greenhouse gas emitting coal or dangerous nuclear power. We could help them shift to renewable energy technology to obtain energy via solar panels, wind turbines, the tides or the earth (geo-thermal).
What kind of world do we face if we don’t stand up, if we don’t rise up to demand a serious course correction?
A report was put out this spring by the CNA Corporation, a national security think tank, written by six retired admirals and five retired generals, including the former Army chief of staff and George W. Bush’s former chief Middle East peace negotiator. In it, in the words of an Associated Press story, they “called upon the U.S. government to make major cuts in emissions of gases that cause global warming.”
“The report warned that in the next 30 to 40 years there will be wars over water, increased hunger, instability from worsening disease and rising sea levels and global warming-induced refugees. ‘The chaos that results can be an incubator of civil strife, genocide and the growth of terrorism,’ the 35-page report predicted.
“‘Climate change exacerbates already unstable situations,’ former US Army chief of staff Gordon Sullivan told Associated Press Radio. . .
“In a veiled reference to Bush’s refusal to join an international treaty to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the report said the U.S. government ‘must become a more constructive partner’ with other nations to fight global warming and cope with its consequences.”
The options before us are crystal clear. Down one road, the one we’re now on, lies a cascading series of oil and water wars, climate disasters and ecological devastation. Down the other lies a turn toward peaceful resolution of conflicts, energy conservation, efficiency and a clean energy revolution, and social and economic justice.
Another world is possible, but for it come about another US is necessary, in the words of the recent US Social Forum. It’s a world worth fighting for, a world worth sacrificing for. Our children and their children are counting on us to do the right thing, and to do it now. The clock is ticking, and we need to act as if the future of human society depends upon what we do, because it really does.