The Conference to Save the Environment

To my knowledge, and I very, very much hope I am wrong, this upcoming conference will be the very first environmental conference in the United States to take on the single gravest threat to the world’s natural environment and to the natural environment right here within the United States. May many more conferences and actions follow!

With some drugs, we have learned that we must take on the demand as well as the supply, and that we must treat that demand as an illness when harmful. Not so with petroleum. Thus far we have been more than content to go after the pipelines, while the consumer is let off the hook entirely. I use the singular term “consumer” purposively.

There is one entity in the United States that alone consumes more petroleum than most entire countries. The same entity primarily demolishes the natural environment far from these shores and on an unimaginable (and carefully unimagined) scale, but it is also the producer of 69% of U.S. environmental disasters that have been named Superfund sites by the EPA. It is also the third greatest polluter of U.S. waterways, despite its concentration on polluting other waters. It is the greatest producer of nuclear waste and threat, and the only institution intentionally spreading nuclear waste far and wide in the open air. It is the greatest proliferator of tools for destroying the natural environment abroad as well. Unlike any other entity on earth, it has displaced entire populations and rendered entire islands and other territories uninhabitable for millennia to come. And yet, as a problem worth focusing on, it has thus far escaped the attention of big environmental organizations.

This is like taking on racist buffoon politicians except Donald Trump, or oil companies except ExxonMobil, or nasty media outlets except Fox News. Who does such things? How to make sense of them?

The conference I am referring to is #NoWar2017: War and the Environment, happening in Washington, D.C. on September 22-24, and preceded by a September 17th flotilla to the Pentagon.  You can sign up for either one at WorldBeyondWar.org. If you’re still waiting in suspense, the entity I am referring to is, of course, the United States military.

Speakers at #NoWar2017 will include, among many others:

Natalia Cardona is the North America Frontline Engagement Coordinator at 350.org. She is based in Philadelphia, Penn. She tweets at @natycar74.

Eric Teller is coordinator of Fossil Free GW at George Washington University. He is a sophomore majoring in International Affairs with a dual concentration in Comparative Social, Political, and Economic Systems and International Environmental Studies, along with a minor in Sustainability.

Anthony Karefa Rogers-Wright is US Coordinator with The Leap. He has presented the case for climate justice, environmental justice, and climate change action at universities nation- and world-wide and written on the subjects for various publications. Anthony was named one of Grist’s “50 People You’ll Be Talking About in 2016.”

Tim DeChristopher is Founder of the Climate Disobedience Center. Tim DeChristopher disrupted an illegitimate Bureau of Land Management oil and gas auction in December of 2008, by posing as Bidder 70 and outbidding oil companies for parcels around Arches and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.

Robin Taubenfeld is a national nuclear spokesperson with Friends of the Earth Australia, a mother, teacher, artist, media maker, community worker, and a recipient of a Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom’s Peacewomen Award 2016.

Mike Stagg is a writer, documentarian, podcast host, free lance journalist and activist based in Lafayette, LA. He’s been active in Louisiana environmental and social justice fights for four decades.

Emily Wurth is Food & Water Watch’s Co-Organizing Director. Emily conducts research and promotes policies at the local, state and federal level to help protect the nation’s water systems as public assets, and to safeguard the country’s water resources.

Nadine Bloch is currently Training Director for Beautiful Trouble and an innovative artist, nonviolent practitioner, political organizer, direct-action trainer, and puppetista.

Suzanne Cole is a senior at the George Washington University studying international affairs with a focus in international sustainability and development. She is a coordinator with GW Fossil Free, and has been heavily involved in divestment and environmental activism both on campus and within the larger DC community.

Dale Dewar  is retired from her position as Executive Director of Physicians for Global Survival, the Canadian affiliate of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Much of her clinical work was in Northern Saskatchewan, among the largest uranium mines in the world.  She and her husband, Bill Curry, received the Global Citizen’s Award for Saskatchewan in 2010 for environmental activism and international volunteer work.

Jonathan Alan King is Professor of Molecular Biology at MIT where he has long taught biochemistry and directed biomedical research on protein misfolding and human disease. Prof. King is a Past President of the national Biophysical Society, and former Councilor of the American Society of Virology and of the American Society for Microbiology. He is a recipient of MIT’s M.L. King Jr. Faculty Leadership Award.

Gar Smith has sailed on the Rainbow Warrior and the peace ship Fri. He is the founding editor of Earth Island Journal.  In 2003, he co-founded Environmentalists Against War and organized the “Carbon-Free” contingent in San Francisco’s massive peace march. He is the author of The War and Environment Reader.

Susi Snyder is the Nuclear Disarmament Programme Manager for PAX in the Netherlands. Mrs. Snyder is the primary author and coordinator of the Don’t Bank on the Bomb annual report on nuclear weapon producers and the institutions that finance them.

Richard Tucker is an environmental historian at the University of Michigan. He specializes on the world history of environmental impacts of war and militarism. He hosts the website environmentandwar.com.

Diane Wilson is a fourth generation shrimper, mother of five, author, and an environmental, peace, and social justice advocate. During the last 30 years, she has launched legislative campaigns, demonstrations, hunger strikes, sunk boats, and even climbed chemical towers in her fight to protect her Gulf Coast bay.

The purpose of #NoWar2017 is not just to hear from great speakers, but to bring together people who care about and want to take action to save the environment and to end war — to build alliances, to strategize more wisely together, and to act with greater strength as a unified movement wherever our interests overlap. Preventing nuclear apocalypse and climate apocalypse should not be segregated movements. Let’s bring them together and transform our world.

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  • kimyo

    swanson’s confident contention that he knows how to ‘save the environment’ is getting quite tiresome. do the publishers here really feel that he is providing worthwhile contributions to this site?

    any notion that protests or conferences will lead to a fix is delusional. if you disagree, point me to a protest/conference which worked.

    the real problem is a civilization based on growth. swanson’s failure to comprehend the nature of the challenge which we face is appalling.

    Why Climate Change Isn’t Our Biggest Environmental Problem, and Why Technology Won’t Save Us

    Our core ecological problem is not climate change. It is overshoot, of which global warming is a symptom. Overshoot is a systemic issue. Over the past century-and-a-half, enormous amounts of cheap energy from fossil fuels enabled the rapid growth of resource extraction, manufacturing, and consumption; and these in turn led to population increase, pollution, and loss of natural habitat and hence biodiversity. The human system expanded dramatically, overshooting Earth’s long-term carrying capacity for humans while upsetting the ecological systems we depend on for our survival. Until we understand and address this systemic imbalance, symptomatic treatment (doing what we can to reverse pollution dilemmas like climate change, trying to save threatened species, and hoping to feed a burgeoning population with genetically modified crops) will constitute an endlessly frustrating round of stopgap measures that are ultimately destined to fail.

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  • Bob

    I like Swanson’s anti-war opinions but he doesn’t know what he’s talking about when it comes to climate change.

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  • Jack Murray

    While, the protection of and the wise use of the environment is tantamount to survival, don’t get lost in the weeds. I grew up learning to save part of this years crops as seeds for next years crop, and rotation of crops. So, take heed: Hypothesis; Earth is warming because of man and his activities. Null hypothesis; Any warming of the Earth is not being caused by man. Historic research shows, the Earth has warmed and cooled periodically over time. Greenland is a good example. An area once settled by Norseman, who practiced agriculture and used the bay to navigate. In time, the inhabited area became so cold, it drove the settlers out. It is now going through another warming period. Recently, sailing ships, sunken long ago, have become exposed as the ice in the Arctic recedes. At one time much of the North American continent was covered by polar ice caps. They melted. Not because the Comanche, or Cheyenne peoples were cruising in Hummers. Therefore, we must accept the Null, and reject the Hypothesis. There can be no Theory of Man Caused Global Warming. You are left with a working hypothesis, at best. With not even the ability to measure the allegation. Its time to grow up. Rather than attacking what is, promote what can be. There are many forms of energy that can be developed. Much of it useful in ‘small batches’ for individuals. Remember, when the auto was introduced, people went out and bought them. They didn’t spend any time attacking the livery stables. Always look for better ways, and improvements of what you have. Good luck, for all of use.