MAIREAD CORRIGAN MAGUIRE – We are all aware that this is the 100th anniversary of the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo which led to the start of the First World War in l9l4. What started here in Sarajevo was a century of two global wars, a Cold War, a century of immense, rapid explosion of death and destruction technology, all extremely costly, and extremely risky. A huge step in the history of war, but also a decisive turning point in the history of peace.
ARI PHILLIPS – Confronting climate change was a major agenda item at last weekâ€™s U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting in Dallas, Texas, including climate protection awards, climate panels, and a discussion with U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and U.S. DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz. Mayors signed the latest version of the Climate Protection Agreement â€” endorsed by over 1,000 mayors, it supports a national goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent from 1990 levels by 2050 amongst other things.
ANDY PIASCIK – Summer approaches and the stench of war is all around. Or, as the great Bob Marley put it, Everywhere is War. Start with the commemorations over a five-week span of Memorial Day, Flag Day and Independence Day, all presented varyingly as celebrations of our war dead, symbols of our greatness, the freedoms we love so dearly and seek to export to every corner of the world and, perhaps most important, the unquestioned rightness of our cause.
HENRY M. PAULSON JR. – There is a time for weighing evidence and a time for acting. And if thereâ€™s one thing Iâ€™ve learned throughout my work in finance, government and conservation, it is to act before problems become too big to manage. For too many years, we failed to rein in the excesses building up in the nationâ€™s financial markets. When the credit bubble burst in 2008, the damage was devastating. Millions suffered. Many still do. Weâ€™re making the same mistake today with climate change. Weâ€™re staring down a climate bubble that poses enormous risks to both our environment and economy. The warning signs are clear and growing more urgent as the risks go unchecked.
NORMAN SOLOMON – Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing creates a moral frequency that vast numbers of people are eager to hear. We donâ€™t want our lives, communities, country and world continually damaged by the deadening silences of fear and conformity.
OZZIE ZEHNER – Every day, the news about climate change and the harms that are sure to accompany it gets worse and worse. To many environmentalists, the answer is simple: power shift. That is, shift from fossil fuels to clean, green, renewable, alternative energy. Well-meaning concerned citizens and activists have jumped on the bandwagon. The problem with this simple solution: Things arenâ€™t as simple as they seem.
TOM ZELLER JR – If his goal was to capture attention by tweaking the nose of clean-energy enthusiasts everywhere, Ozzie Zehner might well have succeeded. His new book, published last month and provocatively titled “Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism,” takes on what Zehner considers the sacred cows of the green movement: solar power, wind power and electric vehicles, among others.
TOM ENGELHARDT – The United States has been at warâ€”major boots-on-the-ground conflicts and minor interventions, firefights, airstrikes, drone assassination campaigns, occupations, special ops raids, proxy conflicts and covert actionsâ€”nearly nonstop since the Vietnam War began. Thatâ€™s more than half a century of experience with war, American-style, and yet few in our world bother to draw the obvious conclusions. Given the historical record, those conclusions should be staring us in the face. They are, however, the words that canâ€™t be said in a country committed to a military-first approach to the world, a continual build-up of its forces, an emphasis on pioneering work in the development and deployment of the latest destructive technology, and a repetitious cycling through styles of war from full-scale invasions and occupations to counterinsurgency, proxy wars, and back again.
DAVID SWANSON – People forget the extent to which Democrats, who controlled the U.S. Senate at the time, pushed for and supported the 2003 attack on Iraq. Remember them or not, theeeeeeeeeey’re back!
LAWRENCE WITTNER – Countries are not only preparing for wars, but are fighting themâ€•sometimes overtly (as in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan) and sometimes covertly (as in portions of Africa and the Middle East). Nevertheless, there are some reasons why war might actually be on the way out.
GEORGE MONBIOT – To succeed is to destroy ourselves. To fail is to destroy ourselves. That is the bind we have created. Ignore if you must climate change, biodiversity collapse, the depletion of water, soil, minerals, oil; even if all these issues were miraculously to vanish, the mathematics of compound growth make continuity impossible. Economic growth is an artifact of the use of fossil fuels.
TOM H. HASTINGS – Reinvade, reoccupy, and redestroy Iraq. That’s the solution to the inevitable civil war that happens when the US pulls out? Will we do it until either Iraq is remade in our image or until the US economy, political environment, and culture is also destroyed?
DR. NAFEEZ AHMED – A US Department of Defense (DoD) research programme is funding universities to model the dynamics, risks and tipping points for large-scale civil unrest across the world, under the supervision of various US military agencies. The multi-million dollar programme is designed to develop immediate and long-term “warfighter-relevant insights” for senior officials and decision makers in “the defense policy community,” and to inform policy implemented by “combatant commands.” Launched in 2008 â€“ the year of the global banking crisis â€“ the DoD ‘Minerva Research Initiative’ partners with universities “to improve DoD’s basic understanding of the social, cultural, behavioral, and political forces that shape regions of the world of strategic importance to the US.”
ROBERT C. kOEHLER – â€œThe definition and practice of war and the definition and practice of mass murder,â€ I wrote last year, â€œhave eerie congruencies. We divide and slice the human race; some people become the enemy, not in a personal but merely an abstract sense â€” â€˜themâ€™ â€” and we lavish a staggering amount of our wealth and creativity on devising ways to kill them. When we call it war, itâ€™s as familiar and wholesome as apple pie. When we call it mass murder, itâ€™s not so nice.â€
JEFF SPROSS – â€œThe notion that weâ€™re going to have poor people suffering because this measure is pushing up their electric bill is just nonsense. Thereâ€™s literally nothing to support that.â€ Thatâ€™s Dean Baker, a prominent Washington, D.C. economist and the co-founder of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, reacting to the argument that new federal regulations to cut carbon dioxide emissions from power plants will drive up energy costs for lower-income Americans.
KEVIN ANDERSON – While the science and math around 2Â°C provides an unequivocal basis for radical reductions in emissions from wealthier nations, the politics continues to deliver grand but ultimately ineffectual gestures. Politically Obamaâ€™s proposal is certainly courageous and one for which he deserves credit. But scientifically, the 30% target and the collective acquiescence it has triggered, is a death sentence for many of tomorrowâ€™s more vulnerable communities.
NORMAN SOLOMON – The Freedom of the Press Foundation calls the governmentâ€™s effort to force Risen to reveal a source â€œone of the most significant press freedom cases in decades.â€
NORTHWEST CENTER FOR ALTERNATIVES TO PESTICIDES – Voters in Jackson and Josephine Counties of Oregon took a huge step three weeks ago when they voted to ban cultivation of genetically modified crops in their counties. They overcame out-of-state spending led by Monsanto and Syngenta that amounted to about $1 million (or almost $10 for every registered voter).
WINSLOW MYERS – The two-in-one of climate change and nuclear abolition is not something to be addressed after supposedly more immediate brush-fires are extinguished; by viewing it instead as a single challenge, an opportunity for cooperative prevention based in planetary self-interest, success will become a model for resolving more local conflicts without violence.
JAMES LAWRENCE POWELL – Humans have already emitted enough CO2 to ensure that global warming will not end in the lifetime of any person reading this essay. As the years and decades go by and its effects become ever more dire, global warming will grow into a perennial campus issue. It is not going away. Some colleges will take the lead and divest now; others will follow eventually. The question for each college is whether, on the most important issue of this century, it will be a leader or a follower.
KATHY KELLY – Jeju Island, South Korea â€“ For the past two weeks [the latter part of May], Iâ€™ve been in the Republic of Korea (ROK), as a guest of peace activists living in Gangjeong Village on ROKâ€™s Jeju Island. Gangjeong is one of the ROKâ€™s smallest villages, yet activists here, in their struggle against the construction of a massive naval base, have inspired people around the world.
DAVID SWANSON – If an alien invader with a face were attacking the earth, the difficulties that governments have getting populations to support wars on other humans would be multiplied a thousand fold. The most common response to officials calling some petty foreign despot “a new Hitler” would shift from “yeah, right” to “who cares?” The people of the world would unite in common defense against the hostile alien.
ROBERT REICH – For years Americans have assumed that our hard-charging capitalism is better than the soft-hearted version found in Canada and Europe. American capitalism might be a bit crueler but it generates faster growth and higher living standards overall. Canadaâ€™s and Europeâ€™s â€œwelfare-state socialismâ€ is doomed.
ROBERT C. KOEHLER – The money system we live under, as Charles Eisenstein points out in his book Sacred Economics, is backed by growth: the necessity for more money. Itâ€™s called profit. We understand wealth, then, to be not a state of spiritual balance with ourselves and our environment, but as something that endlessly and forcefully accumulates, to no end except sheer linear growth. Our allegiance to such growth bequeaths us a moral system that justified (and continues to justify, with different terminology) slavery; and that excuses us from looking after the future. Knowing this may be the key to deciding to grow up.