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Pacific Ecologist

Editorial from Pacific Ecologist 4 - Summer 2002/2003

Bush war-cry imperils global security

Australia continues to burn and Pacific Islands communities are battered by fierce cyclones, with increasing frequency (see Pacific briefs from p 51). Signs of our once stable climate unravelling abound. Damage from climate disasters doubles every decade and has the potential to make banks, insurers and communities unviable, says a new report (pg33.). Doctors for Forests in Australia (p 53) say the need for native forest protection in NSW is a "matter of public health urgency." Meanwhile a last remaining area of unique woodlands in NSW is at risk of logging through government inaction. The authors of this article (from pg 27) ask for your help to ensure the survival of many species threatened with extinction throughout Australia. Who is going to help the Pacific Islands in their continuing struggles with cyclones?

Despite increasing evidence of climate change, governments delay taking realistic action to reduce greenhouse gases. The US threatens world security as a rogue state in its refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and cooperate in international effort to reduce warming emissions. The priority is still international free trade and investment, with global corporations the major beneficiaries and people and the planet losing out as Rod Donald writes in his article (from p21). The consequences of this for developing countries is documented in Bishan Singh's article (from p 7) and in Resource Wars - from War Zones to shopping Malls (p30). Millions of people are dying, haplessly caught up in battles over natural resources for consumer items like cell phones. The Worldwatch Institute has several useful suggestions to remedy this situation, including consumer education, promotion of human rights and investing in "human development."

Nuclear weapons threat

Meanwhile President Bush imperils the world even further with millions of lives at risk in his bullying the UN and countries to join a war on Iraq. Ominously for global security on December 11 last year, Bush issued a statement warning that it reserved the "right" to respond with nuclear weapons if US or military armed forces were attacked with chemical or biological weapons. Given that the US wants to invade Iraq merely on the suspicion that it has weapons of mass destruction, when the US itself clearly has such weapons and is developing them at a great pace (see pp 3-4), the nuclear threat is monstrously hypocritical and an extremely dangerous precedent. It's increasingly clear this is a resource war, a mad strategy, under the guise of "security" to try to terrorise countries and control oil resources in the Middle East to maintain US economic supremacy in the future. With Bush unraveling nuclear deterrence policies where might this end? As Robert Elias, professor of politics at the University of San Francisco, meticulously documents in his article from p.44, US foreign policy for the past 50 years has been a main contributor to the growth of terrorism in the world. If it is serious about defusing terrorism, the US must stop its support of oppressive regimes, its habit of arming dictators, militaries and terrorists and start respecting the human and democratic rights of people in other countries. The catalogue of atrocities the US has committed in the name of democracy, killing millions, is shocking.

Obviously the US, the world's only super-power, now has difficulties acting reasonably in the multilateral arena of the United Nations. Not only in the field of shady politics and war is this evident. With only 5% of the world's people, the US is using 30% of the earth's resources. So what will control American hegemony? One thing that might is enlightened self-interest.

Surely a war with Iraq will only inflame existing hostilities between the US and Arab world and the west in general. It is likely to create conditions described on p 35, whereby a Taliban-like regime could gain control of Middle East oil wells and blow up the wells to punish the west. The war with Iraq is absurd on any level. As Gerald Leach points out from p 34, oil is a finite resource and at the huge rate of extraction and use in recent decades, production is reaching a peak, probably within this decade, and will then begin to fall. Why continue to pursue oil when it is going to run out and its use is ruining life for near future generations?

NOW is the time for radical change, for a renaissance of the human spirit, for finding better ways to live equitably and ecologically. The need to develop a different way of living and renewable energy resources has never been more pressing. Why kill thousands, maybe millions of people in a pointless war President Bush that will surely make America many more enemies? Why menace the world with nuclear weapons? Why not completely change the paradigm and adopt the six pillars for sustainability defined by Bishan Singh in his article from page 7. (The next big global mobilisation against the war is planned for February 15.) - Kay Weir.

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