Environmentalism in a War on Terror

Until we shield our lives and country, from the danger of terrorists, we will almost invariably continue to destroy our environment

by Mitchell Rager

Environmentalism and War:

Iraq warIt’s the word everyone seems to have on the tip on their tongues, especially throughout the recent decades. We have created the term environmentalism to promote advocacy in the preservation, restoration, and improvement of the natural environment; especially in the movement to control pollution.

Are we as humans, being forced, to engage in the salvation of our environment, because of our rapidly progressing “mechanistic” lifestyle toward the Earth. Carolyn Merchant, explains to us in “The Death of Nature” that this mechanistic lifestyle is found in  man made environmental deterioration, such as “mined and quarried mountainsides, altered forested landscape, and overgrazed hills” (270).

Along with the unbelievable amount of pollutants we have pumped in to our atmosphere through, factories and transportation, these are certainly the most significant blow to the health of Mother Nature. Reusable shopping bags, hybrid cars, and green home energy solutions, all allow us to cut our carbon footprint. But, in the midst of this movement to save the earth, “The Green Zone” by Barry Sanders, presents a sobering revelation that, until we address the even greater attack that the US military is waging on the global environment, the things we do at home won’t change a thing. Barry Sanders, explicitly states this through his controversial quote, “The terrorists have attacked our country. Unwittingly, perhaps, we gave them permission. They turn out to be our own military” (78). ‘The use of depleted uranium: “This is what I call terrorism”’ (Sanders 84). While I completely agree with, Barry Sander’s accusations of the United States military, being a key contributor to the destruction of the planet, I strongly disagree with his impractical solution of dismissing their services. It is a necessity, for the sake of our own lives and freedom, to defend our country from the real terrorists of our world; even if that means polluting the Earth.

As we have learned from multiple stories such as St. Francis and Genesis, we have seen that war has been a part of human history, since God created humans. In addition to this, Charles E. Closmann provides the fact in his book, War and The Environment, that “by the seventeenth century, many states, including the Mughal Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and France of Louis XIV, spent half or three-quarters of their revenues on their military machines”(10). Why then, have we only recently become so concerned about the relationship between the war and environment? The recent centuries have been home to the greatest scientific and technological revolutions in history; because of this, they have also been home to some of the most gruesome and intense wars in history. As our lives become more and more mechanistic, and technologically advanced, our government continues to produce the most, advanced and destructive weapons and vehicles, ever created. These weapons and vehicles are not only destructive to humans, but also our environment. Barry Sanders’, The Green Zone, drives home, with an overwhelming amount of facts, on how abusive our military weapons and vehicles are on the environment. After reading, Charles E. Closmann’s, War and the Environment, and Sander’s, The Green Zone, there is no denying that, the U.S. military is destroying the Earth through land, air, and water pollution. The disappointing reality is though,  until we shield our lives and country from the danger of terrorists, we will almost invariably continue to destroy our environment.

Ever since the United States was formed, it has been a key target of terrorism from many other countries. Our beliefs, freedoms, and power have caused multiple international governments and activist groups, to feel threatened by the USA. As a result of this, planned acts of terror have been committed against innocent citizens of our country and our allies for decades. What is the greatest country in the world, supposed to do about this? Should we let the lives of innocent citizens be taken control of by other countries? Should we let innocent citizens be killed unnecessarily by actual murderous terrorists, with no hope of defense or protection? Our beautiful country was fought for and founded on the idea of freedom, and protecting that freedom. We have succeeded in protecting those freedoms for over three hundred years, and must continue to do so for this reason, as stated by Jeffry Dieferndorf in Charles E. Closmann’s, War and the Environment; “warfare is an extreme expression of the power wielded by modern nation-states, which today, possess unprecedented military resources and weaponry with nearly endless destructive potential” (6).

The United States government must spend countless amounts of capital on the military to keep them up to par with the advancements and power of potential terrorist countries surrounding us. Military vehicle fuel consumption and high powered, destructive weaponry usage is a necessity until a kind of world peace can be compromised. There is no substitute, but to over protect our country even if that means continuous pollution of the environment.

There is no doubt of a definitive relationship between war and the environment. That being, as Charles E. Closmann’s puts it, “high powered explosives, long-range artillery, and other “machine age” weapons turn “landscapes of peace” into “environments of war”’ (4). As our scientific and technological abilities advance, war and the environment develop into an even closer relationship. We will continue to see the environment destroyed at a quicker, more vigorous rate as war continues to become more technologically influenced. The sad truth is though, until world peace becomes a reality, instead of an idea, no military will lower their arms, especially the United States. As Barry Sanders stated, the U.S. military is a terrorist to our planet. Although this may be true, it is a disrespectful comment considering those men, women, vehicles, and weapons are possibly the only thing standing between Barry Sanders, and all of the American’s lives and freedom. Sanders should be asking himself, whether he would rather live free, on a semi-polluted planet, or be subject to the fate of murderous, power hungry terrorists. Regardless, the United States military cannot end its bitter-indigent relationship with the environment until world peace is secured.

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