War Threatens the Earth (World Earth Day special)
War Threatens the Earth (World Earth Day special)
By Kamala Sarup
On April 22 every year we celebrate the World Earth Day. Every year the Earth Day's Peace Bell ceremony at the UN brings together leaders from countries around the world to promote understanding and choosing the ways of peace.
Earth Day, that was inaugurated for the first time in 1970, commemorates health of the earth and promotes making the environment cleaner and safer. Its connection with war is that ammunitions pollute the environment and mines are safety hazards. Wars also threaten the world's genetic heritage and hence its capacity to feed itself in the future. International Earth Day also seeks to restore balance in the ecological community and within the human community by addressing issues relating to the environmental, global peace and justice. The threat posed by a large scale warfare between nations has given way to civil unrest and ethnic or religious turmoil within countries.
Environmental problems, population growth , and growing scarcity of vital resources threaten peace in the world. Often scarcity of natural resources like clean water, arable farmland, forests, and fisheries are permanent features of societies torn by internal strife.
Said John McConnell, founder of the Earth Day and writer of the Earth Day Proclamation, "The most powerful nation spends billions for war and pennies for peace. If the money spent for devilish weapons of war to kill people were spent for peacemaking education and actions, we could soon eliminate war as a way to settle differences. We must replace Earth Kill with Earth Care and replace war makers with peace makers."
The costs of war and its perpetual threat are immense and threaten freedom and civilization itself. It is impossible to promote economic and social development and social justice if we can continue to prioritize weapons of war and death over poverty eradication, global health needs, education and economic growth. Over a billion people continue to live in abject poverty around the world. Instead of spending billions of dollars on tools that kill and cause tremendous suffering rich countries should help the poors of the world to procure their basic needs and ensure their safety and security.
People have limited knowledge of the consequences of war; otherwise, they might not wage it. If Germany, Japan and Italy had foreseen that the allies were capable of defeating them, then they surely would not have tried to conquer the world during the World War II. If the U.S. leaders had realized the fallout of their war against communist governments in Indo-china, they would not have wasted blood and treasure just to face humiliations years late. Because of the aggressiveness, acquisitiveness, and ignorance of people and their leaders, war is continuing around the world.
Governments temper the inequalities somewhat by redistributing income from the rich to the poor, but these efforts do not close the inequality gap sufficiently to prevent poverty and hunger. Therefore, there is always famine and war in the world.
On the other side because of the war the basic needs of 5.5 billion human beings seriously threaten the earth's life-supporting environmental resources. By the year 2050, water is projected to be in short supply for 4.4 billion people. 70% of the world's fish stock has already been depleted. The nature of these global threats calls into question the value of increased investment in aircraft carriers, high tech fighter jets, submarines, and weapons. Each year about 25 billion metric tons of nutrient-rich topsoil is dislodged by wind and rain, leaving the land barren, and fomenting disorder in already weak nations. A 1993 US State Department report identifies land mines and other unexploded ordnance as the most toxic and widespread pollutants facing mankind.
In 1971, Greenpeace, formed in Canada, adopted principles of non-violent civil disobedience to raise public consciousness about the risks of nuclear power. As a result of the testing of nuclear weapons, the Western Shoshone Nation in Nevada qualifies as the most bombed nation on earth.
Industries wherever they are exploit earth's resources—most of which are nonrenewable. They also pollute the land, sea and air. There is an inconsistency between the accumulation of material wealth through the expansion of industries and the maintenance of an attractive and healthy environment. Population growth also harms the environment because more people require more land, water and air and other resources. Unfortunately, continued population growth will deteriorate the environment in spite of the best efforts of people to make the earth cleaner and safer.
Earth Day and Nepal
Environmental stability, declining poverty and peace is a sign of a nation's stability as a whole. If we don't value these things then Nepal isn't going to be a stable country. More and more, it is peace, poverty and environmental problems that threaten the stability of Nepal.
We Nepalis now have to think and act as a Trustee of Earth, seeking choices in ecology, economics and ethics that will provide a sustainable future for our children.
Earth Day affords an opportunity for reflections. We are facing the challenges of safeguarding the beauty of our natural Nepal for our present generation as well as for the future. We Nepalis can conduct educational programs and seminars and promote research and investigation throughout the country. We can also assist the work with organizations for the purposes of minimizing waste of energy and maximizing the impact and effectiveness of Care Nepal movement. We should, hence, celebrate Earth Day every day in Nepal through our action and deeds.
(Kamala Sarup is editor of http://peacejournalism.com/ )