Stop global warming? Start with the Pentagon

Global warming is on the minds of people all over the planet. They are talking about how strange their weather is these days. Severe fluctuations are causing new weather patterns alien to communities worldwide. Obviously, the growth in greenhouse gases is a primary reason for global warming. Our lifestyle, especially in the U.S. with less than 5 percent of the world’s population, is a major contributor as we produce 25 percent of global carbon emissions. But few ever ask what role the U.S. military plays in contributing to global warming. And as people like Al Gore and other environmentalists look for solutions, rarely is the Pentagon mentioned as a polluter and a place that we can look to for change if life is to survive on our mother Earth. The Pentagon has been studying, and testing, the idea of using weather modification as a battlefield weapon for many years. Can we begin to talk about what impact weather modification experimentation could be having on our planet already? In a recent article called “What’s Possible in the Military Sector? Greater Than 100 Percent Reduction in Greenhouse Gases,” Green Party activist Don Fitz says, “The military is the only sector of the economy where emissions of greenhouse gases can be reduced by greater than 100 percent. … Regular economic activity of the military is not exactly small. According to the February 2007 Energy Bulletin, the Pentagon is the single largest consumer of oil in the world. Only 35 countries consume more oil.” Fitz continues, “This domination of industrial activity by the military is often referred to as the ‘permanent war economy.’ There is an even more insidious meaning to the phrase. That is the need of the military to have ever-shorter periods of time between wars. The only way to have a true test of a weapon is to use it against people. … Military spending is like a cancer which has metastasized throughout the body politic, with every congressional district demanding its place at the trough.” Many environmental groups are working on solutions to global warming. One, for example, is the Apollo Alliance, which is calling for the creation of a new economy — a new industrial policy that moves toward building alternative sustainable technologies. Uniting labor and environmental groups, who usually are on opposite sides of the fence, the Apollo Alliance is showing that a new environmental policy can also create good jobs which is something the labor movement and low-income communities can get excited about. But there is just one huge concern. Where will the funds come from to invest in this new industrial policy? When the military industrial complex is soaking up over 50 percent of every American tax dollar, where will the funds come from to create the investment for this new industrial infrastructure? Space technology development will only exacerbate this trend as the Pentagon brags that Star Wars will be the largest industrial project in the history of the planet Earth. Major private corporate industrial investment is leaving the country like rats off a sinking ship. Corporate disinvestment in U.S. industry is the reality today. Most politicians understand this new reality very well. They know that weapons production is currently the number one industrial export product of the U.S. They know that major industrial job creation is largely coming from the Pentagon. Thus most politicians, from both parties, want to continue to support the military industrial complex gravy train for their communities. Across the nation, colleges and universities are turning to the Pentagon for greater research funding as Congress and successive administrations have cut back on scientific research and development investment. As this trend worsens, we find growing evidence that engineering, computer science, astronomy, mathematics and other departments are becoming “militarized” in order to maintain funding levels. Student protests against campus weapons research have been growing in recent years at places like the University of Hawaii, University of New Mexico, University of Oregon and UC Berkeley. It is abundantly clear that no real alternative sustainable technology investment will be possible on the scale needed to avert catastrophic global warming without conversion of the military industrial complex. It is imperative that the peace movement, environmental movement, social justice movement and labor movement create a unifying vision and political demand calling on Congress to use our hard-earned tax dollars for conversion of the military industrial complex. We must do as the old saying goes — follow the money. And increasingly the money in the U.S. today is in weapons production. By converting the military, we can make large strides in dealing with greenhouse gases, create new sustainable industries and stop our free fall into endless war. Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space .