Climate change and peace

Climate change is an overwhelming issue. Could there be anything good about it?

You could argue that the solutions will require conflict resolution, ingenuity, citizen cooperation, expanded research and a redirection of funding. Nothing bad about that.

Countries and groups will discover that sharing resources and new ideas on conservation are better than fighting. Learning to preserve an entire watershed benefits all. Planting trees to bring back the rainfall takes cooperation.

The cost of mitigating climate change will be small in comparison to the costs of war. We will have, at last, incentives for putting an end to war itself. We can either continue killing each other or save the planet.

Funding for war comes from taxes. If re-directed to climate change concerns, taxes would not increase, jobs would not be lost and our military research establishment would benefit from clean, ethical work. Funding could also switch from CO2-emitting industries to clean technologies.

We could give up our air-polluting cars. Auto manufacturers would instead produce public buses, one-person vehicles, or trains.

There will be other benefits. The power of Christian fundamentalists in the United States is already being challenged by the call to care for creation. Fundamentalists who have been climate change deniers are rethinking their duty as Christians.

Space exploration causes CO2 emissions with every spaceship launch. All this effort and money can be redirected to addressing climate change.

Even economic systems will be reviewed. The transportation of food, goods, flowers, wine etc. causes CO2 emissions. How much does your dinner add to global warming?

The travel industry, now promoting air travel, will have to sell teleconferencing so that business meetings can include people around the globe without travel. Family visits could be done by teleconferencing, saving money and time. As air travel becomes more uncomfortable, even if you are not ‘rendered’ to a foreign country for torture, you may begin to change your habits.

Naturalists will replace military strategic experts. The Pentagon will have to be sold and its employees given useful work. Presidents and prime ministers will no longer be all-powerful commanders-in-chief but learn win-win tactics.

In the entertainment field violent videos still sell but more and more films are being made about the climate.Who would have guessed a film such as An Inconvenient Truth would do so well at the box office?

News reporting is already changing.The Iraq war news is being matched by news of the melting of ice shelves in the Arctic, by tsunamis, hurricanes, of mountaintops bared of snow, and reefs dying. Plans are underway to move inhabitants off low-lying South Pacific islands.

Capitalism is already under criticism. When patents prevent life-saving drugs from reaching dying populations and when workers are subjected to inhumane conditions the scene is ripe for change.

It will be an exciting time. Just think, the air will be clearer, the water purer, the land unpolluted. Cooperation and peace will prevail. What’s so bad about that?

Shirley Farlinger

Against the UK boycott

[The University and Colleges Union (UCU) in the UK has revised its earlier call for a boycott of Israeli scholars. Instead, for the next year, members are to discuss a paper which gives the Palestinian perspective on the boycott issue. Eds.]

After a year of one-sided exposure to the Palestinian propaganda (some of which is accurate, some lies) a new discussion about the boycott will take place. Meanwhile, it was suggested that members who feel justified to avoid (boycott) Israeli scholars and academic institutions should do so. If an Israeli scholar confesses in public that he/she is pro-Palestinian or against the occupation, then taking him/her off the boycott list may be considered. A demand for such "confessions" reminds me of witch hunts, Stalinist purges, or McCar-thyism.

Part of the boycott initiative follows formal lines but a lot of it follows informal lines — meaning that it is possible that a de facto boycott is taking place now. Had a simple boycott decision been made, it would have been simpler [for the anti-boycott campaigners], since legal channels could be used.

The union decision will expose all union members to a propaganda campaign that is based on the Palestinian view exclusively. The picture is pretty grim.

Nachman Ben-Yehuda
Hebrew University, Israel

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2007

Peace Magazine Jul-Sep 2007, page 5. Some rights reserved.

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