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Global Warming's Unacknowledged Threat—The Pentagon

By Gar Smith / Environmentalists Against War

During the November 15 Democratic Presidential Debate, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders sounded an alarm that "climate change is directly related to the growth of terrorism." Citing a CIA study, Sanders warned that countries around the world are "going to be struggling over limited amounts of water, limited amounts of land to grow their crops and you're going to see all kinds of international conflict."

On November 8, the World Bank predicted that climate change is on track to drive 100 million people into poverty by 2030. And, in March, a National Geographic study linked climate change to the conflict in Syria: "A severe drought, worsened by a warming climate, drove Syrian farmers to abandon their crops and flock to cities, helping trigger a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people."

The sobering insight that climate change can accelerate violence should weigh heavily on the minds of delegates to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change set to begin November 30 in Paris—a city that, on November 13, suffered grievously from the blowback of the Syrian conflict. But there is another looming threat that needs to be addressed.

Put simply: War and militarism also fuel climate change.

From November 30 to December 11, delegates from more than 190 nations will convene in Paris to address the increasingly visible threats of climate disruption. The 21st Conference of the Parties (aka COP21) is expected to draw 25,000 official delegates intent on crafting a legally binding pact to keep global warming below 2°C.

But it is difficult to imagine the delegates reaching this goal when one of the largest contributors to global-warming has no intention of agreeing to reduce its pollution. The problem in this case is neither China nor the United States. Instead, the culprit is the Pentagon.

The Pentagon's Carbon Bootprint

The Pentagon occupies 6,000 bases in the US and more than 1,000 bases (the exact number is disputed) in 60-plus foreign countries. According to its FY 2010 Base Structure Report, the Pentagon's global empire includes more than 539,000 facilities at 5,000 sites covering more than 28 million acres.

The Pentagon has admitted to burning 350,000 barrels of oil a day (only 35 countries in the world consume more) but that doesn't include oil burned by contractors and weapons suppliers. It does, however, include providing fuel for more than 28,000 armored vehicles, thousands of helicopters, hundreds of jet fighters and bombers and vast fleets of Navy vessels. The Air Force accounts for about half of the Pentagon’s operational energy consumption, followed by the Navy (33%) and Army (15%). In 2012, oil accounted for nearly 80% of the Pentagon's energy consumption, followed by electricity, natural gas and coal.

Ironically, most of the Pentagon's oil is consumed in operations directed at protecting America's access to foreign oil and maritime shipping lanes. In short, the consumption of oil relies on consuming more oil. This is not a sustainable energy model.

The amount of oil burned—and the burden of smoke released—increases whenever the Pentagon goes to war. (Indeed, human history's most combustible mix may well prove to be oil and testosterone.) Oil Change International estimates the Pentagon's 2003-2007 $2 trillion Iraq War generated more than three million metric tons of CO2 pollution per month.

The Pentagon: A Privileged Polluter

Yet, despite being the planet's single greatest institutional consumer of fossil fuels, the Pentagon has been granted a unique exemption from reducing—or even reporting—its pollution. The US won this prize during the 1998 Kyoto Protocol negotiations (COP4) after the Pentagon insisted on a "national security provision" that would place its operations beyond global scrutiny or control. As Undersecretary of State Stuart Eizenstat recalled: "Every requirement the Defense Department and uniformed military who were at Kyoto by my side said they wanted, they got." (Also exempted from pollution regulation: all Pentagon weapons testing, military exercises, NATO operations and "peacekeeping" missions.)

After winning this concession, however, the US Senate refused to ratify the Kyoto Accord, the House amended the Pentagon budget to ban any "restriction of armed forces under the Kyoto Protocol," and George W. Bush rejected the entire climate treaty because it "would cause serious harm to the US economy" (by which he clearly meant the U.S. oil and gas industries).

Today, the Pentagon consumes one percent of all the country's oil and around 80 percent of all the oil burned by federal government. President Barack Obama recently received praise for his Executive Order requiring federal agencies to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, but Obama's EO specifically exempted the Pentagon from having to report its contribution to climate chaos. (As a practical matter, the Pentagon has been forced to act. With battlefield gas costing $400 a gallon and naval bases at risk of flooding from rising seas, the Pentagon managed to trim its domestic greenhouse-gas emissions by 9 percent between 2008-2012 and hopes to achieve a 34 percent reduction by 2020.)

Climate Chaos: Deception and Denial

According to recent exposés, Exxon executives knew the company's products were stoking global temperatures but they opted to put "profits before planet" and conspired to secretly finance three decades of deception. Similarly, the Pentagon has been well aware that its operations were wrecking our planetary habitat. In 2014, Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel identified climate change as a "threat multiplier" that will endanger national security by increasing "global instability, hunger, poverty, and conflict." As far back as 2001, Pentagon strategists have been preparing to capitalize on the problem by planning for "ice-free" operations in the Arctic—in anticipation of US-Russian conflicts over access to polar oil.

In 2014, Tom Ridge, George W. Bush's Homeland Security chief, stated flat-out that climate change posed "a real serious problem" that "would bring destruction and economic damage." But climate deniers in Congress continue to prevail. Ignoring Ridge's warnings, a majority of House Republicans hammered an amendment onto the National Defense Authorization bill that banned the Pentagon from spending any funds on researching climate change or sustainable development. "The climate . . . has always been changing," Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va) said dismissively. "[W]hy should Congress divert funds from the mission of our military and national security to support a political ideology?"

Since 1980, the US has experienced 178 "billion dollar" weather events that have caused more than $1 trillion in damages. In 2014 alone, there were eight "billion dollar" weather calamities.

In September 2015, the World Health Organization warned climate change would claim 250,000 million lives between 2030 and 2050 at a cost of $2-4 billion a year and a study in Nature Climate Change estimated the economic damage from greenhouse emissions could top $326 trillion. (If the global warming causes the permafrost to melt and release its trapped carbon dioxide and methane gases, the economic damage could exceed $492 trillion.)

In October 2015 (the hottest October in recorded weather history), BloombergBusiness expressed alarm over a joint study by scientists at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley that predicted global warning "could cause 10 times as much damage to the global economy as previously estimated, slashing output as much as 23 percent by the end of the century."

This is more than a matter of "political ideology."

The Pentagon's role in weather disruption needs to become part of the climate discussion. Oil barrels and gun barrels both pose a threat to our survival. If we hope to stabilize our climate, we will need to start spending less money on war.

Gar Smith is co-founder of Environmentalists Against War and Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal. He is the author of Nuclear Roulette: The Truth about the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth (Chelsea Green). Email:

The Climate Talks in Paris will Fail: Why?

As expectations build for a global consensus to emerge from the United Nations climate conference in Paris, starting on 30 November 2015, that could agree to taking action to limit any rise in global temperature to 2 degrees celsius, I would like to explain why these expectations are misplaced. And what we can do about it.

Obama Administration Approves Pipeline Expansion Set to Feed First Ever Fracked Gas Export Terminal

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The Obama Administration has quietly approved expansion of a major pipeline carrying fracked gas destined for the global export market.

TransCanada's Next Move After Keystone XL: Flood Mexico with Fracked Gas with State Department Help

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

TransCanada, the owner of the recently-nixed northern leg of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, has won a bid from Mexico's government to build a 155-mile pipeline carrying gas from hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in the United States to Mexico's electricity grid. 

New TCBH! Poem: Tipis in the City


Do you hear them?

Around the block,

Just around the glass and marble corner.

Smell the smoke

Congress-backed Interstate Oil Commission Called 911 When I Came To Ask About Climate

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On October 1, I arrived at the Oklahoma City headquarters of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)  a congressionally-chartered collective of oil and gas producing states  hoping for an interview.

Of scientists and charlatans: Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster

By Robert M. Nelson


Republican presidential aspirants Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and Rick Santorum all describe themselves as devout Catholics and, like most Republican candidates, they argue that religion should play an expanded role in American politics and government. However, on matters related to global warming, Messrs. Bush and Rubio both agree with Mr. Santorum, stating that we should, “...leave science to the scientists.”


Film Review: This Changes Everything

I thought the cause of climate destruction was political corruption, but I thought the cause of so little popular resistance was ignorance and denial. Naomi Klein's new film This Changes Everything seems to assume that everyone is aware of the problem. The enemy that the film takes on is the belief that "human nature" is simply greedy and destructive and destined to behave in the way that Western culture behaves toward the natural world.

I think that is an increasingly common frame of mind among those paying attention. But if it ever becomes truly widespread, I expect it to be followed by epidemics of despair.

Of course, the idea that "human nature" destroys the earth is as ridiculous as the idea that "human nature" creates war, or the idea that human nature combined with climate change must produce war. Human societies are destroying the climate at vastly different rates, as are individuals within them. Which are we to suppose are "human nature" and which acting in violation of the same?

I think it's safe to assume that those not recognizing the climate crisis are going to be brought to recognize it along an exponentially rising curve, and it's possible that treating an audience as if they all already know the problem is a helpful way to get them there.

The problem, this film tells us, is a story that humans have been telling each other for 400 years, a story in which people are the masters of the earth rather than its children. The fact that a story is the problem, Klein says, should give us hope, because we can change it. In fact, we largely need to change it to what it was before and what it has remained in some of the communities featured in the film.

Whether that should give us hope is, I think, a whole different question. Either we're past the point of being able to maintain a livable climate or we're not. Either the conference in Copenhagen was the last chance or it wasn't. Either the upcoming conference in Paris will be the last chance or it won't be. Either there's a grassroots way around the failure of such conferences, or there isn't. Either Obama's drill-baby-Arctic drilling is the final nail or it isn't. Same for the tar sands featured in the movie.

But if we are going to act, we need to act as Klein urges: not by intensifying our efforts to control nature, and not by seeking out a different planet to ruin, but by re-learning to live as part of the planet earth rather than its controllers. This film shows us horrific images of the wasteland created in Alberta to get at the tar sands. Canada is dumping some $150 to $200 billion into extracting this poison. And those involved speak in the film as if it were simply inevitable, thus allowing themselves no blame. In their view, humans may be masters of the earth, but they clearly are not masters of themselves.

In contrast, This Changes Everything shows us indigenous cultures where the belief that the land owns us rather than the reverse leads toward sustainable and also more enjoyable life. The film seems to focus on the immediate local destruction of projects like the tar sands and others, rather than the climate of the whole planet. But the point of featuring acts of local resistance is clearly to show us not only the joy and solidarity that comes in acting for a better world, but also to model what that world could look like and how it could be experienced.

We're usually told that it is a weakness of solar energy that it must function when the sun shines, a weakness of wind energy that it must wait for the wind to blow -- whereas it is a strength of coal or oil or nuclear that it can render your home uninhabitable 24-7. This Changes Everything suggests that renewable energy's dependence on nature is a strength because it is part of how we must live and think if we are to cease attacking our natural home.

Hurricane Sandy is featured as a hint of how nature will eventually let humans know who is really in charge. Not in charge because we haven't developed good enough technology yet to truly master it. Not in charge because we need to alter our energy consumption a little as soon as Wall Street approves. Not in charge because of a quirk of corruption in our government that fails to help people in danger while bombing other distant people to control more fossil fuels with which to bring on more danger. No. In charge now and forever, whether you like it or not -- but perfectly happy to work with us, to live in harmony with us, if we live in harmony with the rest of the earth.


David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of and campaign coordinator for Swanson's books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at and He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

New poem by TCBH resident poet Gary Lindorff -- 'Evil'

Dad, you believed in evil

To your dying day.

You weren’t a Christian

But it was just your way

Of forgiving human beings for

Environmentalist Writer Claims Military Saves Lives

Jeremy Deaton seems to be a fine writer on the subject of climate change right up until he stumbles across the propaganda of the U.S. military. I highlight this as the latest example of something that is so typical as to be nearly universal. This is a pattern across major environmental groups, environmental books, and environmentalists by the thousands. In fact, it's in no way limited to environmentalists, it's just that in the case of environmentalism, blindness to the damage done by the U.S. military is particularly dramatic in its impact.

Judges Nixing Keystone XL South Cases Had Tar Sands-Related Oil Investments

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On August 4, the U.S. Appeals Court for the 10th Circuit shot down the Sierra Club's petition for rehearing motion for the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. The decision effectively writes the final chapter of a years-long legal battle in federal courts. 

Could a Plant Win a Presidential Debate?

I don't mean an infiltrator planted in a nefarious plot to throw an election. I mean a green, soil-rooted, leafy plant.

I've been reading Brilliant Green: The Surprising History and Science of Plant Intelligence by Stefano Mancuso and Alessandra Viola. It is at the very least a suggestive treatise.

Imagine that astronauts discover life on another planet, and that the life discovered there is very different from humans. It doesn't use our sort of language or engage in our sort of thought. Yet it senses the world with many more senses than our pathetic little five. It communicates with others of its type and other types of life on the planet. Its individuals learn quickly through experience and adjust their behavior accordingly, strategizing and planning based on experience. It lives sustainably, adapts, and thrives for periods of time that make the existence of humanity seem momentary.

We might not choose to call that newly discovered life "intelligent" or "thinking." We might puff our chests out proudly, realizing that while we have arrived from afar to study it, it will never study us, at least not in a way we can recognize. But wouldn't much of our pride and excitement come from recognizing the impressive accomplishments and abilities of the novel life forms? Like a prophet outside his hometown, wouldn't those alien life forms become the focus of admiring academic disciplines?

Let's come back to earth for a minute. On the earth, 99.7% of the mass of living beings is plants. All animals and insects are negligible in those terms, and also in terms of survival. If plants vanished, the rest of us would be gone in a week or two. If we vanished, plants would carry on just fine thank you. When I say "we," you can imagine I mean "mammals" or "animals" because during the past several decades Western people have begun to return to believing that animals can feel and think and in other ways be like humans. A century ago non-human animals were thought to have no more awareness than plants or rocks.

If life forms on another planet were mysterious to us because they moved very quickly or very slowly, we would laugh at the Hollywood movies that had always imagined that aliens must move at more or less our speed. Yet, we film plants' movements, make them recognizable by speeding up the film, and go right on supposing that plants don't move.

Plants detect light above the ground and move toward it, and below the ground and move away from it. Plants detect nutrients below the ground and move toward them. Plants detect other plants closely related to themselves and leave them room, or detect unrelated competitors and crowd them out. Plants persuade insects to do their bidding. Plants hunt and dine on insects, mice, and lizards above ground, and worms below. Plants warn other plants of danger by releasing chemical messages.

A plant that closes its leaves up when touched by a hand, though not by wind or rain, if rolled on a cart along a bumpy road, will at first close up with each bump, but quickly learn not to bother, while still continuing to close up if touched by a person or animal.

Plants see light without having eyes. Plants hear sounds as snakes and worms do, by feeling the vibrations -- there's no need for ears. Plants that are played music between 100 and 500 Hz grow larger and produce more and better seeds. Plant roots themselves produce sounds, which conceivably may help explain coordinated movements of numerous roots. Plants sense and produce smells. Plants detect the most minute presence of countless substances in soil, putting any human gourmet chef to shame. And plants reach out and touch rocks they must grow around or fence posts they must climb.

Plants have at least 15 additional senses. They detect gravity, electromagnetic fields, temperature, electric field, pressure, and humidity. They can determine the direction of water and its quantity. They can identify numerous chemicals in soil or air, even at a distance of several meters. Plants can identify insect threats and release substances to attract particular insects that will prey on the undesired ones.

Plants can manipulate insects into assisting them in numerous ways. And if we weren't humans, we could describe the relationship between certain food crops and flowers and other plants, on the one hand, and the humans who care for them on the other, in similar terms of plants manipulating people.

In 2008, the Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology recognized plants as possessing dignity and rights. Also in 2008, the Constitution of Ecuador recognized nature as a whole as possessing "the right to integral respect for its existence and for the maintenance and regeneration of its life cycles, structure, functions and evolutionary processes."

In 2008, the United States endured what at that point amounted to a truly outrageous presidential election circus. That was then. This is now. Imagine that scientists discovered the Fox News Presidential Primary debate. Here, they might observe, are life forms that wish to destroy life, detest the females of their own species, seek out violence for its own sake, reject learned experience through the bestowing of value on ignorance and error in their own right, and generate ill will in an apparent attempt to shorten and worsen their existence. Tell me honestly, would you be more impressed and pleased to stumble upon such a thing or to walk into a garden?

Exclusive: Hillary Clinton State Department Emails, Mexico Energy Reform and the Revolving Door

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Emails released on July 31 by the U.S. State Department reveal more about the origins of energy reform efforts in Mexico. The State Department released them as part of the once-a-month rolling release schedule for emails generated by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, now a Democratic presidential candidate.

Hillary Clinton Emails

Make deal not war!: Obama’s, and Washington’s, Absurd Choice of a Nuclear Deal or War on Iran

By Dave Lindorff

I don’t know which is worse: President Obama asserting, in defense of the nuclear deal he and his Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Iran, that “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” or the fact that most Americans, and most American pundits, seem to accept that limited choice of options as a given.

Hey, I Have an Idea Where They Can Stick the Atlantic Coast Pipeline

Governor Terry McAuliffe of Virginia campaigned on green energy (and I hear some people may have believed him, though I haven't met one) and then immediately backed the proposed construction of a giant fracked-gas pipeline through the mountains and farms of Virginia to carry fossil fuels from West Virginia to North Carolina.

Dominion Virginia Power paid $1.3 million this year in legal bribes to candidates' election campaigns, more than anyone else in Virginia except the two Parties. Every single bill Dominion opposed in the legislature died. Dominion, according to the dictionary, is "the power or right of governing and controlling; sovereign authority; rule; control; domination."

In Virginia it's easy to think of the evictions of the poor farmers 80 years ago to create Shenandoah National Park as something ancient that civilization has outgrown and would never do again. (And the old lyrics of the song Shenandoah, about giving the Native American chief liquor in order to steal his daughter, are not celebrated in this day and age.) But at least the injustice of the 1930s evictions created a park. At least there was some sort of public interest involved.

Now here comes the Virginia government as the bought-and-paid-for servants of their corporate masters at Dominion to claim a 40-yard-wide path of destruction and potential catastrophe right through the middle of numerous private properties and public properties for the sake of escalating the collapse of a livable climate on the planet, not to mention facilitating the destruction in West Virginia where the fracking frackers will do their fracking. What's the public interest to justify it? It's going to ruin parks and not create any.

A good short documentary on the growing resistance, called Won't Pipe Down, shows the owner of Silverback Distillery explaining that he supported the Keystone Pipeline but opposes this one because it impacts his own personal private property and his business. The correct response to that attitude is not "Serves you right," but "Glad you're now with us." Because NIMBYism keeps getting the proposed path of the pipeline moved, and if those who succeed in moving it stick with the struggle to keep it from getting built at all, perhaps it can be prevented entirely.

The pipeline is also proposed to cut right through a communal farm property, where an existing sense of community may aid the movement.

In fact the movement is doing well. Check out There are big protests. Driving through Nelson County, or even through Charlottesville, one sees lots of "No Pipeline" signs. Some 69% of Nelson County landowners in the proposed path have refused to allow surveys on their land.

The film, Won't Pipe Down, uses a quote from local hero slave-owner, rapist, coward, sadist, and father of States Rights, Thomas Jefferson, to emphasize the supreme value of "private property." But the pipeline is not going through the private property of most of the people opposing it, or of most of the people who ought to be opposing it and who will have to start opposing it if it is to be stopped.

The U.S. government fights wars for oil and gas, for godsake. It bombs people's homes for this stuff. If we only protest when our own personal property is impacted disproportionately, we're going to see the climate severely impact each and every piece of private property on earth. This pipeline needs to be opposed by everyone in the area and everyone in the world. Help out, won't you? and

Oh, and here's my idea for where to stick the thing if it can't be stopped. Governor McAuliffe is living in public housing in Richmond, Va., and I suspect that Thomas F. Farrell II is able with his personal $12 million per year from Virginians' utility bills, to afford some sort of residence in that area. McAuliffe must bow before the $2500 Farrell gave him for his campaign, even knowing that Farrell gave his opponent $5000. Why not build a pipeline from the sewer beneath each of these two gentlemen's houses, connecting them, and let the question of which produces more filth, the public or private realm, finally be answered when we see which house's plumbing backs up first?

"We Don't Want Your Pipeline" By Robin and Linda Williams from Richard Adams on Vimeo.

Protest Song about proposed Dominion Gas Pipeline coming through
West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.
Robin and Linda Williams (copyright 2014)

Image above shows the results of building a leaking pipeline in another state, what Virginians can look forward to if the ACP is built.

Bicycling for Peace and Environmental Justice: Halfway Across the Country Now

By Dan Monte

Parting Shot

I left from Marin County, just north of San Francisco, to LA on Memorial day, and then on June 15 headed east toward Washington D.C. I have ridden over 1,600 miles and climbed more than 40,000 feet of mountains. I will be traveling Oklahoma, Kansas, and Missouri the next few weeks and hope to arrive in DC mid to late September.

I view this as a necessary pilgrimage for me. I want to raise awareness that climate change, which threatens our civilization, is only intensified by war, and that there is no solution to climate change that does not include peace.

Continued emission of greenhouse gases will cause further warming and long-lasting changes in all components of the climate system, increasing the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems.” — Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Fifth Assessment Report 2013

This is the 70th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, a demarcation notifying us that industrial warfare can end civilization. Clearly we the people of this earth are at a critical juncture, whether to work in peaceful cooperation to solve the consequences of climate change or whether out of fear we wreak havoc through war. Polls show we have collectively lost trust that our good intentions are the leading motives of our leaders’ actions. My hope lies in the faith that we can change this and that in other countries there are people such as us.

But we are accustomed to viewing issues as independent of each other, war and the environment as not connected. And yet our Department of "Defense" has been telling us for many years now that climate change is a serious national security threat. Indeed it is a global security threat that is destabilizing our world. We must understand that military force forgoes the international cooperation needed for solving our climate problem. War reverses all of our progress on improving environmental standards. It is extremely carbon intensive. Our task is to stand firm against the evangelists of war and to reject their fear mongering. The rejection of militarism is necessary -- it is the only course towards climate solutions.

The effects of climate change are not limited to melting Arctic ice sheets.

Climate change drought is causing civil strife and provoking war. A multi-year drought in Syria caused the migration of the rural population into the cities and threatened the stability of their imperfect government that has turned into ‘a major civil war with international involvement.’ Scientific studies report that in Sub-Saharan Africa there is a 30-year correlation of climate changes ‘with an increase in the likelihood of civil war.’ Additionally food shortages caused by climate change have been found to be a contributing factor in the Arab Spring uprisings. (Scientific American, March 2, 2015)

The world population is on course to increase 30% in the next few decades. Many countries are now incapable of producing enough food for their current population. Overdrawn aquifers and drought have depleted once abundant land. Additionally sea level rise will diminish many productive river deltas from food production.

Americans have a special role to play in world affairs.

The US accounts for nearly half of all military spending worldwide. Our leaders are correct in telling us that we are the strongest military power on earth. What they leave out is that this great force is limited to destruction and chaos as evidenced by its recent use in conflicts from Afghanistan to Iraq from Libya to Syria. We have given the whole of the 20th century to perpetual war. How much time can we give to peaceful solutions, to negotiated solutions?

It takes significant fear-mongering to turn people towards war. The images of the World Trade Towers falling and the beheadings of innocents are such propaganda. These are real events, horrifying, and they terrorize us. What we fail to see is that our interventionist policies and militaristic actions are part of the cause and are not the solution. It is our responsibility, if we are serious about reversing climate change, that we face our fears and question closely what alternatives there are for this violence. 

What outcomes are forgone by following the path of war? 

What are possible unintended consequences? 

What can be gained by peaceful initiatives? 

International cooperation, the hallmark of peace, is necessarily part of the solution. We cannot wage war or threaten to do so and at the same time expect to receive the assistance we need to reverse the level of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

We can chose leaders that have a track record for constructive action.

We have to demand of our leaders that they abandon acting like 19th-century imperialists, militarily dominating others for their resources. It doesn’t add to our security and in fact it puts us in greater jeopardy. And it is completely unnecessary in a global economy. We need to end war as it is the antithesis of the peaceful cooperation we need. Climate change is the real threat to our security. Environmentalists need to assert that there exists no military path to climate security.

I will be posting at:

Elephant In The Room: The Pentagon's Massive Carbon Footprint

(Image: Anthony Freda. Used with permission)

It’s not news that climate change threatens the security of every person on planet Earth. The Union of Concerned Scientists predicts 6-16 inches of sea level rise by the year 2050. The threat is apparent in the Marshall Islands, which just set its own ambitious goal for reducing carbon emissions in the wake of catastrophic storms and coastal flooding in the South Pacific. The threat is apparent in California, where prolonged drought has led to wildfires like the one that crossed a busy highway and caused several vehicles to explode in flames.  The threat of weather extremes is apparent in Sydney, Australia, which saw snowfall this winter for the first time since 1836.

Pushing Up

By Kathy Kelly

Last weekend, about 100 U.S. Veterans for Peace gathered in Red Wing, Minnesota, for a statewide annual meeting. In my experience, Veterans for Peace chapters hold “no-nonsense” events.  Whether coming together for local, statewide, regional or national work, the Veterans project a strong sense of purpose. They want to dismantle war economies and work to end all wars. The Minnesotans, many of them old friends, convened in the spacious loft of a rural barn. After organizers extended friendly welcomes, participants settled in to tackle this year’s theme: “The War on Our Climate.”

They invited Dr. James Hansen, an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, to speak via Skype about minimizing the impacts of climate change.  Sometimes called the “father of global warming”, Dr. Hansen has sounded alarms for several decades  with accurate predictions about the effects of fossil fuel emissions. He now campaigns for an economically efficient phase out of fossil fuel emissions by imposing carbon fees on emission sources with dividends equitably returned to the public.

Dr. Hansen envisions the creation of serious market incentives for entrepreneurs to develop energy and products that are low-carbon and no-carbon.  “Those who achieve the greatest reductions in carbon use would reap the greatest profit. Projections show that such an approach could reduce U.S. carbon emissions by more than half within 20 years — and create 3 million new jobs in the process.”

Hermes in the Anthropocene: a dogologue

For an actress or an actress and dog
By Karen Malpede

I was in conversation with my dog, Hermes. He lay on the floor next to my desk.

“Kawhren,” Herm said. He has trouble with “r” sounds and speaks with a slight accent that must be cocker spaniel. “Why cannot people, undewhrstrand?”

“I don’t know, Herm,” I said. I find I often answer his questions this way.

He returned to gently licking his left paw.

“Do you rwhemembwer the days of yowre?”

“Herm, whatever are you talking about?”

“The days of yoehre, Kawhren. (pause) Befowre…”

He turned to grooming his right paw. Herm has huge feet of which he is quite proud. Finished grooming himself, he stretched and performed upward and downward dog on the rug, wagging his tale in recognition of his perfect form. Then he looked up at me.

“When you was young.” He said.

“Oh, yes, I do remember, Herm,” I said. “I used to ride my bicycle down streets lined with old elms whose branches touched forming a canopy above my head. That was before Dutch Elm disease.”

“Why would anyone hurt a twree?” Herm asked, aghast.

“You pee on trees,” I reminded him.

“Big twrees, only, Kawhren, nevewhr pee on little twrees.”

Hermes lay down; his two back legs splayed out, head on his paws.

I used to ride horses into the deep woods. I used to head out alone, bareback, no one else but me and my horse, sometimes at night, under the moon, but most often in the middle of the heat of the Midwestern summer’s day. From the cool woods, we’d come into a small round meadow, shaded and sheltered by trees. I’d slide down his warm flesh, lean my cheek against his neck. I’d lie down, my horse grazing at my side, my eyes ground-level, I would stare into the miniature world. Graceful long-necked insects with delicately-etched transparent winds balanced on spindly legs atop slender blades of grass bent by their weight, and chattered back and forth. Busy ants carried burdens twice their size. Worms surfaced and dove. Spiders wove translucent webs. Bees darted and drank. Linnet wings, the words pop into my head, beautiful like so many of nature’s names on the tongue. Staring into the miniature world of meadow grasses and bugs eye-level to the child belly pressed to the earth is how the world of fairies, hence fairy tales, began.

“Kawhren,” Herm said, coming, now, to the point of his discourse,“you neverh thought when you were young that people would hurwt the wowrold!”

“Never, Herm.” That wasn’t true. I was a child in the worst days of the Cold War; we thought nuclear weapons would destroy the world. My world in the secret meadow with the piebald grazing at my side was going to be blown apart. Now, we watch the ice melt and wait…But from these thoughts, I could protect my dog.

“I neverh would huwrt,” Hermes said.

“Well, you eat raw beef and chicken, Herm.”

“And pizza crwusts,” he said.

“From the street, ick,”

“No one is pewrfect, Kawhren,” Herm answered. “We is each one of us comprowmized.” “But that does not mean,” he continued emphatically, standing up, “that we should not twry. In evwry way we know.” He rested his chin on my leg. “I twry by being a good dog.”

“This is true, Hermes,” I said, rubbing his head, “you are the best dog I know.” Unlike his sister, Cleis, whom I dearly love, Hermes is universally kind, friendly and biddable.

“Cleis does not talk,” Herm said, reading my mind.

“That is true, Herm,” I replied, although Hermes speaks to me inside my head and I must verbalize for him, Cleis, no matter how hard I listen remains resolutely silent. I cannot hear the sound of her voice. When Cleis wants to be a brat, as in the park, she closes her ears to the sound of my voice, nose to the ground, running in large circles, free and feral. I call after her, foolishly chase her. I beg her with biscuits. When she is tired, she sits.

I had a riding teacher who used to say, “They tell me the horses are the dumb animals, but I wonder,” referring to those of us struggling to communicate with the thousand pounds of flesh between our legs without being summarily tossed off.

“Kawhrewn,” said Herm, “why are people so dumb?”

He was angry, now.

For added emphasis he barked. Cleis barked, too. Then as often happens, their barking accelerated until they were howling together, wildly, with abandon.

Once the cacophony stopped, Hermes pulled himself very straight; front legs planted, back legs extended, his head up. He spoke with gravitas, “Ourhr beautiful worwold. Ourhr only one.”

Call for Sanity on Sixtieth Anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto

The original Einstein-Russell manifesto

It was exactly 60 years ago that Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein gathered together with a group of leading intellectuals in London to draft and sign a manifesto in which they denounced the dangerous drive toward war between the world’s Communist and anti-Communist factions. The signers of this manifesto included leading Nobel Prize winners such as Hideki Yukawa and Linus Pauling.

They were blunt, equating the drive for war and reckless talk of the use of nuclear weapons sweeping the United States and the Soviet Union at the time, as endangering all of humanity. The manifesto argued that advancements in technology, specifically the invention of the atomic bomb, had set human history on a new and likely disastrous course.

The manifesto stated in harsh terms the choice confronting humanity:

Here, then, is the problem which we present to you, stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?

The Russell-Einstein Manifesto forced a serious reconsideration of the dangerous strategic direction in which the United States was heading at that time and was the beginning of a recalibration of the concept of security that would lead to the signing of the Nonproliferation Treaty in 1968 and the arms control talks of the 1970s.

But we take little comfort in those accomplishments today. The United States has completely forgotten about its obligations under the Nonproliferation Treaty, and the words “arms control” have disappeared from the conversation on security. The last year has seen the United States confront Russia in Ukraine to such a degree that many have spoken about the risks of nuclear war.

As a result, on June 16 of this year Russia announced that it will add 40 new ICBMs in response to the investment of the United States over the last two years in upgrading its nuclear forces.

Similar tensions have emerged between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyutai Isles and between the United States and China over the South China Sea. Discussions about the possibility of war with China are showing up in the Western media with increasing frequency, and a deeply disturbing push to militarize American relations with Asia is emerging.

But this time, the dangers of nuclear war are complemented by an equal, or greater, threat: climate change. Even the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, told the Boston Globe in 2013 that climate change “is probably the most likely thing that is going to happen . . . that will cripple the security environment, probably more likely than the other scenarios we all often talk about.’’

More recently, Pope Francis issued a detailed, and blunt, encyclical dedicated to the threat of climate change in which he charged:

It is remarkable how weak international political responses (to climate change) have been. Consequently the most one can expect is superficial rhetoric, sporadic acts of philanthropy and perfunctory expressions of concern for the environment, whereas any genuine attempt by groups within society to introduce change is viewed as a nuisance based on romantic illusions or an obstacle to be circumvented.

As the 60th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto drew near, I became increasing disturbed by the complete inaction among the best-educated and best-connected in the face of the most dangerous moment in modern history and perhaps in human history, grimmer even than the catastrophe that Russell and Einstein contemplated. Not only are we facing the increased likelihood of nuclear war, but there are signs that climate change is advancing more rapidly than previously estimated. Science Magazine recently released a study that predicts massive marine destruction if we follow the current trends, and even the glaciers of the Southern Antarctic Peninsula, once thought to be the most stable, are observed to be melting rapidly. And yet we see not even the most superficial efforts to defend against this threat by the major powers.

I spoke informally about my worries with my friend John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy in Focus and associate of the Asia Institute. John has written extensively about the need to identify climate change as the primary security threat and also has worked closely with Miriam Pemberton of the Institute for Policy Studies on efforts to move the United States away from a military economy. Between the two of us we have put together a slightly updated version of the manifesto that highlights climate change — an issue that was not understood in 1955 — and hereby have published it in the form of a petition that we invite anyone in the world to sign. This new version of the manifesto is open to the participation of all, not restricted to that of an elite group of Nobel Prize winners.

I also spoke with David Swanson, a friend from my days working on the Dennis Kucinich campaign for the Democratic nomination back in 2004. David now serves as director of World Beyond War, a broad effort to create a consensus that war no longer has any legitimate place in human society. He offered to introduce the manifesto to a broad group of activists and we agreed that Foreign Policy in Focus, the Asia Institute and World Beyond War would co-sponsor the new manifesto.

Finally, I sent the draft to Noam Chomsky who readily offered to sign it and offered the following comment.

Last January the famous Doomsday Clock was moved two minutes closer to midnight, the closest it has been since a major war scare 30 years ago.  The accompanying declaration, which warned that the constant threat of nuclear war and “unchecked climate change” severely threaten human civilization, brings to mind the grim warning to the people of the world just 60 years ago by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, calling on them to face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” In all of human history, there has never been a choice like the one we face today.

The declaration on the 60th anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto is displayed below. We urge all people who are concerned about humanity’s future and about the health of the Earth’s biosphere to join us in signing the declaration, and to invite friends and family members to sign. The statement can be signed at the petition page on DIY RootsAction website:

Declaration on the 60th Anniversary of the Russell-Einstein Manifesto

July 9, 2015

In view of the growing risk that in future wars weapons, nuclear and otherwise, will be employed that threaten the continued existence of humanity, we urge the governments of the world to realize, and to acknowledge publicly, that their purpose cannot be furthered by a world war, and we urge them, consequently, to find peaceful means for the settlement of all matters of dispute between them.

We also propose that all governments of the world begin to convert those resources previously allocated to preparations for destructive conflict to a new constructive purpose: the mitigation of climate change and the creation of a new sustainable civilization on a global scale.

This effort is endorsed by Foreign Policy in Focus, the Asia Institute, and World Beyond War, and is being launched on July 9, 2015.

You can sign, and ask everyone you know to sign, this declaration here:

Why is this declaration important?

Exactly 60 years ago today, leading intellectuals led by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein gathered in London to sign a manifesto voicing their concern that the struggle between the Communist and anti-Communist blocs in the age of the hydrogen bomb guaranteed annihilation for humanity.

Although we have so far avoided the nuclear war that those intellectuals dreaded, the danger has merely been postponed. The threat, which has reemerged recently with the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, has only grown more dire.

Moreover, the rapid acceleration of technological development threatens to put nuclear weapons, and many other weapons of similar destructiveness, into the hands of a growing circle of nations (and potentially even of “non-state actors”). At the same time, the early possessors of nuclear weapons have failed to abide by their obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to destroy their stockpiles.

And now we are faced with an existential threat that may rival the destructive consequences even of a full-scale nuclear war: climate change. The rapacious exploitation of our resources and a thoughtless over-reliance upon fossil fuels have caused an unprecedented disruption of our climate. Combined with an unmitigated attack on our forests, our wetlands, our oceans, and our farmland in the pursuit of short-term gains, this unsustainable economic expansion has brought us to the edge of an abyss.

The original 1955 manifesto states: “We are speaking on this occasion, not as members of this or that nation, continent, or creed, but as human beings,” members of the human species “whose continued existence is in doubt.”

The time has come for us to break out of the distorted and misleading conception of progress and development that has so seduced us and led us towards destruction.

Intellectuals bear a particular responsibility of leadership by virtue of their specialized expertise and insight regarding the scientific, cultural, and historical forces that have led to our predicament. Between a mercenary element that pursues an agenda of narrow interests without regard to consequences and a frequently discouraged, misled, and sometimes apathetic citizenry stand the intellectuals in every field of study and sphere of activity. It falls to us that it falls to decry the reckless acceleration of armaments and the criminal destruction of the ecosystem. The time has come for us to raise our voices in a concerted effort.

Initial Signers

Noam Chomsky, professor emeritus, MIT

Last January the famous Doomsday Clock was moved two minutes closer to midnight, the closest it has been since a major war scare 30 years ago.  The accompanying declaration, which warned that the constant threat of nuclear war and “unchecked climate change” severely threaten human civilization, brings to mind the grim warning to the people of the world just 50 years ago by Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, calling on them to face a choice that is “stark and dreadful and inescapable: Shall we put an end to the human race; or shall mankind renounce war?” In all of human history, there has never been a choice like the one we face today.

Helen Caldicott, author

It was the Russell Einstein manifesto on the threat of nuclear war 60 years ago that started me upon my journey to try to abolish nuclear weapons. I then read and devoured the three volumes of Russell’s autobiography which had an amazing influence upon my thinking as a young girl.

The manifesto was so extraordinarily sensible written by two of the world’s greatest thinkers, and I am truly amazed that the world at that time took practically no notice of their prescient warning, and today we are orders of magnitude in greater danger than we were 60 years ago. The governments of the world still think in primitive terms of retribution and killing while the nuclear weapons in Russia and the US are presently maintained on hair trigger alert, and these two nuclear superpowers are practicing nuclear war drills during a state of heightened international tension exacerbated by the Ukrainian situation and the Middle East. It is in truth sheer luck that we are still here on this lovely planet of ours.

Larry Wilkerson, retired United States Army Colonel and former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell.

From central Europe to Southwest Asia, from the South China Sea to the Arctic, tensions are on the rise as the world’s sole empire is roiled in peripheral activities largely of its own doing and just as largely destructive of its power and corruptive of its leadership. This, while humanity’s most pressing challenge–planetary climate change–threatens catastrophe for all.  Stockpiles of nuclear weapons add danger to this already explosive situation.  We humans have never been so powerfully challenged–and so apparently helpless to do anything about it.

Benjamin R. Barber, president, Global Parliament of Mayors Project

Naomi Klein, author of This Changes Everything

David Swanson, director, World Beyond War

John Feffer, director, Foreign Policy in Focus

Emanuel Pastreich, director, The Asia Institute

Leah Bolger,  chair, coordinating committee, World Beyond War

Ben Griffin, coordinator, Veterans For Peace UK

Michael Nagler, founder and president, The Metta Center for Nonviolence

John Horgan, science journalist & author of The End of War

Kevin Zeese, co-director, Popular Resistance.

Margaret Flowers, M.D., co-director of Popular Resistance

Dahr Jamail, staff reporter, Truthout

John Kiriakou, associate fellow, Institute for Policy Studies and CIA Torture Whistleblower

Kim Hyung yul, president of the Asia Institute and professor of history, Sook Myung University

Choi Murim, professor of medicine, Seoul National University

Coleen Rowley, retired FBI agent and former Minneapolis Division legal counsel

Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army Colonel and former US diplomat

Mike Madden, vice president, Veterans For Peace, Chapter 27 (veteran of the US Air Force)

Chante Wolf, 12 year Air Force, Desert Shield/Storm veteran, member of Chapter 27, Veterans For Peace

William Binney, former NSA technical director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis and co-founder of the SIGINT Automation Research Center.

Jean Bricmont, professor, Université Catholique de Louvain

Emanuel Pastreich is the director of the Asia Institute in Seoul, South Korea.



Enbridge Stuffs Provision into Wisconsin Budget to Expedite Controversial Piece of "Keystone XL Clone"

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On Thursday, July 3 on the eve of a long Fourth of July holiday weekend, Canadian pipeline company giant Enbridge landed a sweetheart deal: a provision in the 2015 Wisconsin Budget that will serve to expedite permitting for its controversial proposed Line 61 tar sands pipeline expansion project.

Hillary Clinton State Dept Emails Contain Redacted Job Description for Top Energy Diplomat; Lobbyist Gets Job

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

The U.S. State Department released a batch of 3,000 searchable documents formerly stored on the private hard drive and in a private email account of Democratic Party presidential candidate and former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Among them: a fully redacted job description for State Department International Energy Coordinator/Diplomat-At-Large.

Historic Peace Ship Is Re-Launched

By Arnold Oliver

Along the rugged coast of northern California’s Humboldt County, maritime history is being made. June 20th marked the launch ceremony of the rebuilt sailing ketch, the Golden Rule, after four years of hard work by a restoration team led by Veterans for Peace. As we shall see, the Golden Rule is no ordinary sailboat.

If you are old enough, you may recall that in the 1950’s, the U.S. military used the Marshall Islands as the primary site for its atmospheric nuclear weapons testing. As is now known, those huge nuclear detonations in the Western Pacific were wreaking havoc on the environment and human health. In fact, with each monstrous explosion, readily detectable clouds of radioactive fallout wafted around the planet, and contamination began to turn up in cows’ and mothers’ milk. Increasingly, skepticism grew about government assurances that there was no danger.

Then, in 1958, the Golden Rule arrived on the scene. The Hugh Angelman-designed 30-foot ketch was purchased by a group of activists who soon set out on a voyage of nonviolent protest toward the Marshalls. Their plan, which was well publicized, was to sail into the target zone and sacrifice both boat and crew if need be to bring a halt to the tests.

Militarism is a bad deal

By Tom H. Hastings

When Benjamin Netanyahu courted, received, and responded to an invitation to address a far rightwing Republican Congress in order to publicly, internationally diss President Obama, he scolded our President, saying the proposed deal to keep Iran from getting a nuclear bomb was a “bad deal.”

I’d like to channel Bibi. Militarism is a bad deal.

When the only tool you have is a hammer, all problems start to look like nails. The only tool America has, in the minds of a warmongering Congress, is our military. Oh—excuuuuse me—our sacred military.

How has that military been doing at solving our nation’s problems? A very small but representative sampling:

Appeals Court Rules Keystone XL South Approval Was Legal, Lifting Cloud Over TransCanada

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

In a 3-0 vote, the U.S. Appeals Court for the Tenth Circuit has ruled that the southern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline was permitted in a lawful manner by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

Keystone XL South was approved via a controversial Army Corps Nationwide Permit 12 and an accompanying March 2012 Executive Order from President Barack Obama. The pipeline, open for business since January 2014, will now carry tar sands crude from Cushing, Oklahoma to Port Arthur, Texas without the cloud of the legal challenge hanging over its head since 2012.

Revealed: Energy Transfer Partners’ 'Pipeline-for-Prostitute' Landman

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

By Steve Horn and David Goodner

A DeSmog investigation has uncovered the identity of a land agent and the contract company he works with that allegedly offered to buy an Iowa farmer the services of two teenage sex workers in exchange for access to his land to build the controversial proposed Dakota Access pipeline, owned by Energy Transfer Partners.

Dahr Jamail: The Navy's Great Alaskan "War"

It isn’t the best of times for the American Arctic and let me explain why.

Speaking Events


War Is A Lie: Second Edition
Published April 5, 2016
Tour begins here:

(Invite David Swanson to your town!)


April 11, Washington, DC, 6:30-8:00 p.m. at Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Streets.
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April 12, Baltimore, MD, 7:30 p.m. at Red Emma's.
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April 14, Bellingham, WA, Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship, evening

April 15, Seattle, WA

April 16 Portland, OR




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