Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Give the Sierra Club Credit for Taking on the U.S. Marine Corps
Give the Sierra Club Credit for Taking on the U.S. Marine Corps By David Swanson http://warisacrime.org/content/give-sierra-club-credit-taking-us-marine-corps In this moment in which the public will and a bit of nerve in Congress have made refusing to let a president launch a bunch of missiles into a foreign country a reality and therefore mainstream and respectable (rather than vaguely treasonous as it might have been widely understood a decade ago or depicted by the corporate media a couple of weeks ago), there are signs of possible wider outbreaks of sanity. Syria's crisis was brought on in part by climate induced drought and water shortage. The solution of sending in missiles (blocked for now) or of sending in guns (underway as we speak) misses that source of the problem and in fact exacerbates it. The U.S. military is our greatest consumer of petroleum, which it consumes in the course of fighting wars and occupying countries to control petroleum. Add in the depleted uranium, napalm, cluster bombs, white phosphorous, and other weapons use and testing, and one would think that environmentalists, sooner or later, would at least notice the existence of the U.S. military as a problem to be dealt with. Consider that the roughly $1 trillion spent by the United States and roughly $1 trillion spent by the rest of the world on militarism every year could coat the planet with sustainable green energy sources beyond the wildest imaginings of those sources' proponents, and you'd think war addiction would be the first thing environmentalists would want to cure. Typically, you'd be disappointed. Every once in a while, there are signs of possible progress. Some environmental groups have spoken up against the naval base construction on Jeju Island. And the Sierra Club is now speaking up boldly and straightforwardly against the U.S. Marine Corps' plan to identify and destroy a new Vieques (the Puerto Rican island destroyed by U.S. bomb testing over decades). The Marines have found a rich and beautiful island, falsely called it desolate and uninhabitable (despite the fact that many species live there, including homo sapiens), and proposed to render it just that. The Sierra Club is among those calling the Marines on the lie and the outrageous proposal: "Pagan Island, one of a string of volcanic islands that make up the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas (CNMI), is an ancient home to the Chamorro people and the habitat of unique animals and plants, many of them endemic, rare and endangered. Those natural and cultural resources are being put at risk by a plan by the U.S. Marines to use the island as a live-fire training ground. In scoping documents related to the environmental impact statement required for that plan to go forward, the Marines have characterized Pagan Island as being "desolate and uninhabitable." Photographs included below show how untrue this is. "Under a contract with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Sierra Club member Mike Hadfield of the University of Hawaii and his research team spent two weeks on Pagan Island, traversing it and cataloging biological resources found there. ... "Pagan Island has been inhabited by Chamorro people for more than 2,000 years, as attested by remains of ancient villages. It continues to be the home of a small population of Chamorros, and many more want to return to their ancestral homelands. Recent articles from Marianas newspapers, which can be found on the Save Pagan Island website, tell of the connection many people feel with Pagan and other northern islands and their desire to return to them. ..." A transfer of our major resources from war making to environment saving is the clearest path to survival and prosperity, so every time a bridge is built between peace and environmental activism is a moment worth celebrating. -- David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for http://rootsaction.org.