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Global warming and war: two closely linked world crises

Global warming and war: two closely linked world crises

By Amy Goodman *

“In today's wars, many more civilians die than soldiers; the seeds of future conflicts are sown, economies are destroyed; civil societies are shattered, refugees accumulate and children are scarred for life. ” This was part of the speech delivered in December 2009 by that year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama. Five years later, his statements resemble the news we receive on a daily basis. The pacifist group PinkCode is urging President Obama to return the Nobel Prize.

In the same speech, Obama stated: “The world must unite to confront climate change. There are few scientists who do not agree that if we do not do something, we will face more droughts, famine and massive displacement that will fuel more conflicts for decades. Obama also argued: “For this reason, it is not only scientists and activists who are proposing swift and forceful measures; so do the military leaders of my country and others who understand that our common security is at stake ”.

In fact, the Pentagon has long viewed climate change as a major threat to America's national security. In its 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review, the Pentagon noted that the various effects of climate change “will worsen other problems abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability and social tensions. These conditions can lead to terrorist activity and other forms of violence ”.

So the question is: why not tackle the threat of climate change while we still have time? Asad Rehman from Friends of the Earth International environmental federation, who traveled to New York to participate in the March for Climate, told me: “If we can get the trillions [of dollars] that we get to finance conflict, whether that is from an invasion in Iraq or Afghanistan or now to the conflict in Syria, I am sure that we can get the necessary funds to achieve the transformation that is required to bring clean and renewable energy to the 1.2 billion people who lack it. "

Asad Rehman is a staunch opponent of massive military spending. For years he was an anti-war activist and believes that there is a strong link between war and global warming. “Oil has been a curse for the people of the Middle East, it has been a harbinger of conflict and violence; of the destruction of ancient civilizations and the lives of millions of people ”.


Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, agrees with Rehman. Benjamin participated in the historic March for Climate and joined thousands of other protesters the next day to take part in the “Flood Wall Street” action, in which 100 people were arrested. Before going to the White House to protest the bombing in Syria, Medea told me: “Oil is the foundation of America's foreign policy in the Middle East. If it weren't for Iraq's oil, the United States would never have invaded that country. "

On Tuesday, more than 100 world leaders, together with representatives from the industrial sector, participated in a non-binding climate summit. The summit was convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, in the hope that it would provide the necessary impetus for formal negotiations on climate change that seek to achieve a binding commitment from the countries of the world to drastically reduce the greenhouse gas emissions and limit the global temperature rise to 2 degrees Celsius. An increase in temperature of 2 degrees is considered to be the maximum limit of increase that the planet, as we know it, can withstand.

While the climate negotiations do not have much success or media attention, President Obama's attack on the Islamic State and other groups considered terrorist threats dominated the session of the UN General Assembly and was the main topic of a special session of the Council. of Security chaired by Obama. Reflecting on the future of the global movement to combat climate change, Asad Rehman said: “I think those who participated in the demonstration certainly came out of there with more enthusiasm and with a greater conviction that the power is in our hands and not in that building in New York, not at the UN summit. "

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, US General Anthony Zinni estimated that success could only be achieved if a force of 400,000 was dispatched. Donald Rumsfeld sent less than half the soldiers and joked about it: "You go to war with the army you have, not with the army you want to have." 400,000 people attended the climate march in New York on Sunday… an army of hope for a sustainable future.

(Spanish translation of the English text: Mercedes Camps. Edition: María Eva Blotta and Democracy Now! In Spanish, [email protected])

* Amy Goodman is the host of Democracy Now !, an international newscast that airs daily on more than 800 radio and television stations in English and more than 450 in Spanish. She is co-author of the book "Those who fight against the system: Ordinary heroes in extraordinary times in the United States", edited by Le Monde Diplomatique Cono Sur.

Denis Moynihan contributed to the journalistic production of this column.

© 2014 Amy Goodman

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