Are Military And Space Programs Victims Of Climate Crisis Or Perpetrators?

Pentagon Planet by Anthony Freda

I’m back from a blogging break during National Novel Writing Month aka nanowrimo in November. I met the challenge of writing a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days; the jury is still out on whether or not it was time well-spent. If you’re interested in being a reader who will provide feedback on Comfy Underpants (working title) depicting the effects on children of grinding poverty in late stage capitalism, leave a comment.

During November I collaborated on a few COP 26 related projects, including a virtual presentation for the People’s Summit on behalf of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. I teamed up with Koohan Paik-Mander (GN board member in Hawaii) and Veterans for Peace members in the US (president Adrienne Kinne) and UK (David Collins) plus sponsoring organization the Institute for Policy Studies (Ashik Siddique) to present on US Militarism, Space Tech & Climate Crisis: the role of militarism in climate justice.

My presentation in the 90 minute webinar focused on Information Control and Perception Management Around Climate Impact of Space Programs.

To prepare I learned more about the parallels between US military programs and space programs, and their interconnection. For the TL,DW crowd (too long, didn’t watch) I’ll summarize my key points:

  • The role of military in driving climate crisis has been hidden successfully up to now, but COP 26 was a turning point for climate activists if not for national governments.
  • The role of space programs in harming climate is similarly hidden.
  • Space programs are portrayed as non-military in nature despite the fact that NASA develops technology which is then used by the military.
  • Focus on space programs’ climate harms is confined in the press to private space programs.
  • Both the military and space programs are portrayed as victims of climate crisis in the corporate press and in their own communications to the public.

Koohan’s presentation on the militarization of the ocean around Hawaii including space and with disastrous effects on marine life was powerful and new information for many.

In the runup to COP 26, Peace Action Maine invited David Swanson of World Beyond War and Janet Weil of VFP’s Climate Crisis & Militarism Project to speak on How the Pentagon Fuels Climate Crisis

I did the intro giving the context of the upcoming climate summit in Glasgow and what it might mean for our work, and PAM board member Devon Grayson-Wallace facilitated. Link to video here.

COP 26 was a dismal failure in terms of halting runaway climate crisis.

 The non-binding agreements reached would, even if observed in full (highly unlikely), not keep carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions at safe levels. 

Greta Thunberg mocked the empty promises of elected officials (I can’t bring myself to call them leaders): “Net zero, blah blah blah. Climate neutral, blah blah blah.”

Images source: World Peace Ever TV

Youth and indigenous climate activists staged numerous actions to draw attention to the urgency of the crisis while world leaders went through the motions of taking meaningful action. Wealthy countries will continue to pollute with others bearing the brunt of the dire effects. What else is new?

Here’s a simple direct action you can take right now. Pledge to connect the dots between our real security needs around climate and the enormous military emissions elephant in the room.

Source: research by Prof. Neta Crawford for the Costs of War project

Judging The Biden Administration Not By Words, But By Deeds

A displaced family in Marib, Yemen, carries a winter aid package back to their shelter. Source: UN

Those keeping an eye on the foreign policy scorecard for the Democratic regime just installed in Washington DC are noticing ominous actions which are only slightly concealed by soothing words.

  • An announcement that U.S. support for the Saudi’s brutal war on Yemen would end was couched in weasel words. Yemeni professor Shireen Al-Adeimi, who teaches in Michigan, teamed up with crack investigative reporter Sarah Lazare to parse the details of what this could mean for the long suffering civilian population of Yemen.
  • One of the first acts of the new administration was sending more U.S. troops into Syria where the long running civil war/proxy war has already caused untold suffering. Bruce Gagnon of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in space explains the context.
  • The Pentagon sent troops into Norway for the first time but Norway then canceled the military exercises planned because of a spike in COVID-19 infections. As reported in 
    • “Last year’s iteration of Cold Response, another major NATO exercise, was also significantly scaled back due to the pandemic. Training in and around the Arctic Circle has been a priority for NATO forces to counter Russia in the region.” My comment: what could go wrong?
  • The new administration announced this week they are keeping the Trump administration’s Space Force as a new branch of the military. Of course they are.

Biden’s cabinet and his pick for USAID are neoliberal and neocon warhawks so all of the above was entirely predictable.

Meanwhile, although Congress easily passed a $750+ billion Pentagon budget recently, they can’t agree on pandemic relief for the millions teetering on the verge of eviction and starvation in the U.S.

And those of us who want the COVID-19 vaccine are still waiting. Ok, that one’s not on Biden yet. A family member who works at a leading research hospital told me the general consensus is three months turnaround time for national level health care planning and execution to be guided by science. 

But most of us understand that, without reining in the military budget, we’ll never get Medicare for All and, without universal health care, the pandemic is likely to be a very long event. 

As in, retirees like me may not live long enough to see the end of it. Or of the planned endlessness of the “war on terror.”