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By Cindy Sheehan
This week is “Green Week” on MSNBC. Today is “Paperless Monday.” We viewers have been treated with attractive women telling us how we, as citizens and consumers can go “paperless” (the amount of unsolicited junk mail I receive in my mail box infuriates me), and how we can reduce our dependence on fossil fuels (oil is only growing more precious and gas more expensive) and recycle, etc.
I was so pleased, however, when one young man made a pointed comment on catastrophic climate change as related to the massive amounts of gas and diesel fuel the Pentagon uses. I have been waiting for someone (because Al Gore with his family’s long attachment to Occidental Petroleum and the establishment has not) to make the connection between our Military Industrial Complex (M.I.C.) and the destruction of the planet’s environment.
The news commentator on MSNBC, Contessa Brewer did not follow-up on this young man’s line of reasoning, and I wondered if it was intentional. Does Ms. Brewer realize that her company, NBC is owned by General Electric who is not only one of the worlds major polluters (nuclear, chemical and fossil fuel pollutants), but is one of the world’s major war profiteers. The US’s leading export is death in the form of weaponry and military with GE being a leader of the pack.
Because I travel so often on airplanes, I do not own a car and use my feet or other means of public transportation as often as possible. I try and buy everything used and really make an effort to reduce my “carbon footprint” on our abused planet. However, my efforts seem to be almost meaningless in the face of the number one consumer of fossil fuel products: The Pentagon. I also have read that if the US Military were a country, it would be the 4th largest polluter.
I believe we should all try to live as green as possible, but we also need to expose the eco-crimes of the US M.I.C. Everywhere the US has a military presence, a super-fund site is created. I met with Hawaiian indigenous tribal leaders at Pearl Harbor who cannot fish or swim in their ancestral waters anymore because of the M.I.C. pollutants. In my own district in San Francisco, Bayview/Hunter’s Point is toxic because of the M.I.C. (incidentally, Ms. Pelosi’s number one campaign contributor in 2006: Occidental Petroleum). Higher incidences of cancer and asthma, among other things, plague the mostly minority neighborhoods.
The rhetoric against Iran making one nuclear bomb is frightening and hypocritical, considering the US has been waging a nuclear war in Iraq for sixteen years now. The team of Hussein/Bush has combined since the First Gulf Horror Show into turning Iraq into an environmental disaster. The US has been using depleted uranium (D.U.) there in the form of uranium-238, which is a waste product of enriching uranium-235, that the military decided to put to “good” use in the form of bullets, bombs and to strengthen the drive shafts of humvees. Since the First Gulf Horror Show, incidences of leukemia have risen 600% in Iraq and one out of every four First Gulf Horror Show veterans have some kind of debilitating or degenerative disease ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome to brain tumors and Lou Gehrig disease (ALS). The US Congress will give George unlimited billions of dollars to continue the horror but the VA does not have the resources to test our returning vets from this Second Gulf Horror Show with the comprehensive test that detects smaller amounts of D.U. rather than the cheap test they use that does not detect anything but large amounts of the poison. With the pressure and lobbying of Veteran’s groups, Louisiana was the first state to mandate this test for its returning veterans. Other states must follow Louisiana's lead.
Last month, the husband of a friend of mine, who was a Vietnam vet, died of Agent Orange related cancer. The country of Vietnam and our soldiers who fought there have been fighting a losing battle to this poison now for 40 years. Our true friend of peace, Dave Cline, former president of Veteran’s for Peace died the same time from the same cause.
This past weekend, hundreds of Step it Up events were held all over the country to press the urgency for personal and corporate change in our “Green” policies. We have little time, but while we are making personal changes, we also need to press our government to make the profound changes that we need.
There are a few (but not an exclusive list) measures that can be urged right now:
*The U.S. needs to sign back onto the Kyoto Protocols.
*We need to urge our Congressional Reps to support HR 1590 (Sponsored by Henry Waxman D-Ca) that mandates a 2% reduction in CO2 emissions per year.
*Nuclear power and nuclear weapons need to be “off the table” and the use of solar and wind energy needs to be encouraged.
No jobs have to be lost in the downscaling of the M.I.C. The M.I.C. must re-tool from manufacturing death and environmental decay to green companies that are made to clean up the horrendous messes (including land mines and cluster bombs) they have made all over the planet. The M.I.C needs to be reduced from a global monster to a manageable-sustainable entity that is used only for defensive purposes and not corporate imperialism.
Our very survival depends on it.
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