Shift from Martial Defense to Climate Offense
If we do not soon turn the use of our many resources, human and material, from spending on military to defending our earth from our species’ harmful activities, humanity will live in an inhospitable habitat for hundreds of years to come.
Already we see human habitats nearing inhabitability: heat waves, wildfires and rising seas.
Technologies exist to sequester carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere. Some are as natural as growing plants. Others which are mechanical are currently very costly. By redirecting resources spent on ‘defense’, we could accelerate the evolution of this technology and bring down the costs. Literally, the costs of not removing CO2 from the atmosphere are unthinkable.
Humanity can turn this page. The dominions of power and property we protect with our national defenses will seem insignificant when our habitat is no longer viable. That is, unless we adopt a survivalist mentality and try to horde livability unto ourselves, likely to be a losing cause as climate disaster displaces billions.
Much more palatable would be that we drop our defenses against each other and join a common cause that erases political and geographical lines. Could something drive us to do that short of the approach of an earth-destroying asteroid?
We are like frogs being brought to a boil in an earthen pot.
Can we be brought to our senses enough to jump out?
I don’t mean by that leaving the planet. Go where? What I ask is: can we as a species turn our attention to what is most dangerous. The constant state of war we marshal our defenses against, could quickly make the climate crisis moot for humanity. We have been on the verge of nuclear holocaust for three quarters of a century. One restless, mad and/or careless finger could put an end to all speculation. I just recently learned the word ‘omnicide’.
So, a modest proposal would be to find a path to sanity, make peace with the citizens of other countries that we currently consider adversaries, and make them partners in a common cause: to desist from destroying our habitat (to which spending resources on armaments contributes greatly). I say citizens, because we would need to end run round most political and business leaders as they are entrenched in the power and resource grab which has brought us to this state.
This will mean that the West and other centers of concentrated power and resources will have to take a haircut: decrease our unnecessary consumption (which doesn’t offer us sustainable happiness anyhow).
A world in which resources are more evenly distributed will naturally be more peaceful. We could turn our attention to solving the intractable issue of reducing the damage we do.
A Moon Shot; a Manhattan Project;
maybe call it
Gaia Salvation or Mother Rescue.
We cannot do this without undergoing a change of mind, a deepening of consciousness. By change, I mean a slowing and stilling of our collective minds. In a quiet, still mind, one experiences true joy and fulfillment. Currently many look outside for what is inside. We look for the infinite in the finite, a fool’s errand.
Can we as global citizens become less selfish and more selfless? Can we recognize our commonality, our unity? Can we set aside the personal and the petty? Can we value happiness as a product of commonweal?
Once we realize that our habitat is deteriorating and will not support the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed AND realize that a far richer lifestyle is to be had by turning inwards and developing an interior life AND realize that by insuring the well-being of all people and creatures we create a safer and healthier home for everyone AND realize we are essentially one spiritual being in many guises: we can muster our resources and capabilities to counter the damage we have done (to the extent possible) and preserve a livable habitat for our progeny.
Daniel Ellsberg’s important and provocative book, The Doomsday Machine, details how the superpowers and aspiring superpowers created the nuclear standoff which grips the planet in a vise of imminent destruction. It’s amazing how a logical progression can lead to an irrational situation.
Just as importantly he shows us a way out: simply stop spending money on new weapons (and old ones for that matter) and build down the enormous stockpiles. Significantly, he suggests we start with ICMBs. Among the other components of nuclear defense systems (bombers and submarines), they are most likely to trigger an all-out war, simply because they cannot be called back once fired. And they are most likely to be fired in retaliation to an attack because they are the most vulnerable as stationary targets.
This would effectively be taking our fingers of the triggers.
So, let us begin by building down our nuclear capacity unilaterally. If we set the example, others should follow. The risk of an attack on us would not increase before other sane actors would join us. It would be good for all economies (except perhaps the ‘industrial-military complexes’ around the world) as would reallocating those resources to deal with climate change.
The proposal: build down our nuclear defenses incrementally and reallocate the savings to defend the planet from us.
My use of 'Bloomsday' is not an allusion to the day James Joyce's novel, Ulysses, famously takes place (in Dublin, June 16, 1904), so named after a main character, Leopold Bloom. It is rather a hijacking of the word which on its own connotes a day of floral bounty (and makes a lovely rhyme).