There is No More Time
All evidence suggests that our lives and that of our planet are in grave peril. If we are to survive, we must immediately dismantle the forces of greed and power that are destroying our lives in the toxic pursuit of empire. It is our refusal to face the realities of global warming and our continued illegal use of Depleted Uranium that are the true terrors of our time. Our governments and the corporate empires they defend must be compelled to cease and desist from all forms of violence against our earth and its inhabitants, to work towards mitigating the damage done and to begin creating a livable future.
by Lucinda Marshall
March 4, 2005
The environmental imperative of our situation cannot be ignored. The impact of global warming is accelerating. Levels of carbon dioxide (the main cause of global warming) have risen abruptly in the last two years. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world and its polar ice cap has shrunk up to 20% in the last three decades; the ice cap is expected to disappear altogether by the year 2070. (1) Our land, air and water are polluted with toxins and waste to the point where they can no longer sustain life. Species of plants and animals are becoming extinct, glaciers are melting.
As global warming continues to affect the life of our planet, the results will be devastating. Water will become scarce in some parts of the world while others will be flooded by rising seas as the polar ice caps melt. Rain forests are likely to dry out and burn and parts of the world will become much hotter even as others become much colder. Droughts will cause starvation, oceans will become more acidic and less hospitable to life and diseases like malaria will spread easily. (2)
Studies and reports have been issued telling us that temperatures are rising far faster than previously thought and that we have reached the tipping point in global warming that we had sought to avoid. There is the grave possibility that within as little as 10 years, we will reach the point of no return. Once that point is reached, the risk of abrupt uncontrollable climate change is expected to increase according to the recent report "Meeting The Climate Challenge". (3)
Each year, more and more people die unnecessarily of the cancerous impact of our toxic behavior, of preventable starvation, of disease and because of the misguided priorities of violence. War rages because of greed and the desire for domination. The pandemic quest for power and honor cuts an ever-widening swath of violence and degradation. Millions of people have been killed, wounded, trafficked, sexually assaulted and left homeless. And always, it is women and children who are most victimized.
It is precisely our disconnection from our ecological support systems that allows us to commit warfare. It should therefore not surprise us that military powers are the biggest polluters on our planet. The worst of this pollution is the use of enormous amounts of depleted uranium in wars that have been waged by the U.S., most recently against Afghanistan and Iraq, imperiling the very survival of our planet.
With a half-life of 4,500,000,000 years, the impact of DU will not go away. There is more than 1.5 million tons of radioactive Depleted Uranium waste in the world today (700,000 or more tons of this is located in the U.S.), and this number grows by 50,000 tons per day. In the first Gulf War alone, the Pentagon admits to using 320 tons of uranium weapons (in violation of international law), although Greenpeace puts the probable amount at more than 800 megatons. (4), (5) (6),
Depleted uranium causes both radioactive and chemical damage in humans. It is deposited in the lungs and kidneys of its victims and gives off alpha and beta radiation which cause cell deaths and genetic mutations, resulting in cancer in exposed individuals and genetic abnormalities in their descendants for many generations to come (from a 1995 U.S. Army report). (7) Women with their sensitive breast and uterine tissues and children with their not yet fully developed immune systems are the most vulnerable. (8)
Unquestionably the most critical point that we must understand is that the lethal impact of DU knows no boundaries. As these weapons explode, their toxic dust is carried in the wind and invades soil, water and air everywhere. We do not yet fully know the magnitude of the damage caused by this pollution, but there is the very real likelihood that we have already sown the seeds of our own demise.
It is the most perverse of ironies that the military forces that claim to defend us are responsible for most of the violence and environmental degradation that is destroying our world. These forces are inextricably tied to the ethos of corporate and national empire building that values the hoarding of resources over the common good.
This perilous and lethal greed is no longer tolerable and it is imperative that we come together in insisting on an end to planetary destruction and full commitment to creating a fair and sustainable future, with full and equal voice for all, most especially those who have born the brunt of the impact of the patriarchal irresponsibility.
Delay is no longer acceptable or possible, there is no more time.
(1) Geoffrey Lean, "Global warming approaching point of no return, warns leading climate expert", The Independent, January 23, 2005.
(2) Geoffrey Lean, "Apocalypse Now: How Mankind is Sleepwalking to the End of the Earth", The Independent, February 6, 2005.
(3) Michael McCarthy, "Countdown to global catastrophe", The Independent, January 24, 2005.
(4) World Information Service on Energy Uranium Project, "Current Issues: Waste Management of Depleted Uranium", http://www.antenna.nl/wise/uranium/ediss.html.
(5) VT Padmanabhan, "Is Depleted Uranium From The West Asian Battlefields Coming To India?", South Asia Citizens Wire, January 27-28, 2005.
(6) Brita May Rose, "America's Radioactive War", Counterpunch, November 17, 2004.
(7) VT Padmanabhan, "Is Depleted Uranium From The West Asian Battlefields Coming To India?", South Asia Citizens Wire, January 27-28, 2005.
(8) Rosalie Bertell, "Health and Environmental Costs of Militarism", presented in Barcelona, Spain and reprinted by International Institute of Concern for Public Health, www.iicph.org.
Lucinda Marshall is a feminist artist, writer and activist. She is the Founder of the Feminist Peace Network, www.feministpeacenetwork.org which publishes Atrocities, a bulletin documenting violence against women throughout the world. Her work has been published in numerous publications including, Awakened Woman, Alternet, Dissident Voice, Off Our Backs, The Progressive, Rain and Thunder, Z Magazine , Common Dreams and Information Clearinghouse.
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