Thoughts to ponder on International Day of Peace (Sept. 21), whose theme for 2019 is Climate Action for Peace:
Our worst enemy isn’t China, North Korea, Russia or Iran. No, our new enemy is becoming more powerful every day. Confronting this enemy won’t take guns, bombs or modern weapon systems. We are that enemy. And Mother Earth is not too happy with us. She’s losing her polar ice caps, her forests are burning, her storms more destructive, her waterways flooding and her fertile fields browning into deserts through climate change.
But we still prepare to fight other countries, unaware of our largest threat. In Asheville, we are warned of imposing disasters invading us in the form of heavy rains, increased flooding, landslides, droughts, fires, epic storms, maybe even insect plagues as climate change rages across our mountains, valleys, homes and businesses.
Not long ago, the National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center estimated collateral damage in Asheville from increased flooding. Estimates of potential flood damage included 180 parcels of land used to provide community services — and underwater, 1,549 residential parcels — and 61 miles of flooded roads. If we don’t prepare for such disasters, we will, like Nero, be playing the fiddle while the rains fall from the heavens, or the wildfires roar or mudslides strip our mountains.
Even though climate change is now enemy No. 1, 97 Asheville defense contractors continue to accept funds as members of the military-industrial complex. In 2018, nearly $21 million in defense contracts flowed into our city. (governmentcontractswon.com).
How many organizations or contractors are getting federal funds to lessen the effects of climate change? Uncle Sam doesn’t seem to publish such information. But we can compare budgets. The feds budgeted $649 billion for defense in 2018, whereas the various agencies that work on climate action received about $14 billion. If only the contractors above could transition their jobs from war to renewable energy, maybe we could slow the momentum of climate disruption marching into WNC.
Unfortunately, much of our billions aimed at building weapons also cause climate change. If our military were a country, its fossil fuel use would fall one below Iraq and one ahead of Sweden at 34th, ahead of 162 other countries. And that’s only from the use of fossil fuels, not accounting for all the other ways our military damages land, air and water, and especially millions of people, whom many of us call “climate refugees.” In turn, they may become scapegoats, excuses for further armed conflicts down the road. However, the powerful create war, not the victims.
Join us as we look at the connections of war and climate change this year when we observe International Day of Peace in Asheville and around the globe. You can find details on Facebook at WNC4Peace.
— Rachael Bliss