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Why Peace is critical to Environmental Sustainability?

Wars and Peace

According to the website Wars in the World, as of July 2012 there are 59 countries involved in some form of armed conflict.
Dr. Josh Goldstein who teaches International Relations at American University in Washington DC and is a research scholar at University of Massachusetts – Amherst lists 14 major conflicts “in progress” as of May 6th 2012.

According to a report released in June 2011, by the Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, the cost of US Wars alone (Iraq, Afganistan and Pakistan) reached at least “$3.7 trillion and could reach as high as $4.4 trillion”. That is just the cost of US wars.

My opinion is that humans are so accustomed to wars that most people consider them as a normal byproduct of human activity. Wars result from poorly managed conflicts and straight out acts of aggression.

So, What is the problem?

  • In times of war, no significant progress in Environmental Sustainability are achieved.
  • Wars are a disastrous waste of resources and energy from the core issue confronting human civilization.

Proof in point

My opinion is that the Iraq/Afganistan war have set the United States back 10 to 15 years in terms of progress toward a more environmentally sustainable economy. The US ranks poorly among countries in a number of Environmental Sustainability studies:

  • In terms of consumer behavior the National Geographic “Greendex 2012: Consumer Choice and the Environment—A Worldwide Tracking Survey” measures consumer behavior in areas relating to housing, transportation, food, and consumer goods.
    • Greendex 2012 ranks average consumers in 17 countries according to the environmental impact of their consumption patterns.
    • The top-scoring consumers of 2012 are in the developing economies of India, China, and Brazil, in descending order.
    • Among industrialized countries, American consumers’ behavior still ranks as the least sustainable of all countries surveyed since the inception of the study, followed by Canadian, Japanese, and French consumers.
  • The Environmental Performance Index (EPI)  132 countries on 22 performance indicators on the ten policy categories. The Environmental Performance Index (EPI) is a measurement system that was produced by collaboration between Yale and Columbia University.

The Main Issue

The main issue is not whether we will all die in a nuclear Amargedon – that would be a relatively easy and quick end -, not that we will run out of oil or gas, not that we will die from a runaway strain of avian flue or Ebola virus, the main issue is whether humans, as a specie, will survive gracefully the severe deterioration of our environment.

See the video of the recent TEDx presentation I did directly related to this subject here <–

We need to come to our senses, get over our respective egos and tackle the subject of how we are going to survive the next 50 years.  Some humans, will certainly survive the next 50 years, the question is:

Can we survive the next 50 years gracefully or will it be a bloody mess?

“Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing,
there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.”

This quote from Rumi the Sufi Mystic who lived from 1207-1273 A.D. (translated by Coleman Barks) summarizes the place we need to move to.

For this reason, I have no more patience or interest in most major conflicts such as the Israel/Palestine conflict.
Enough civil wars between cousins, let’s move on please.

For me, taking part to the Philadelphia Peace Walk is  an acknowledgment of the power of the non-violent movement AND a statement as to where the global human community needs to put its collective energy.

War, war mongers, arms dealers, superpowers, opportunistic tyrants, ambitious young colonels or greedy crypto-capitalists all need to see beyond the tip of their nose, step aside and let people do what they do best, i.e.: attending to the needs of the living.

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