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.