Fighting the wrong war

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After more than 12 years of daily reading of sound environmental information, I’m happy to be called an “environmentalist.” Much of my reading came straight from researchers in the field, people who spent many years studying – right in their natural habitats – plants, animals, fungi and other life. These scientists tell us this is probably the last century in which we can leave our descendants an earth that looks much like our own.

That’s why I think we’ve been fighting the wrong war. Our $80 billion for a month of war and a brief aftermath could have been going into a war against the worst killer of all – pollution – to help protect the marvelously varied life on earth.

I know it’s not hard to find material that seems to contradict the massive evidence of dirtier, scarcer water, filthier air, loss of arable earth, rapid extinctions; but investigation shows that much of this so-called “information” is coming from self-serving companies who pay sympathetic investigators to dig for anything that can be worded to somehow suggest environmentalists are wrong. Most Americans are not taken in. More than two-thirds of us favor spending more money to clean up a badly damaged environment.

I worry about our troops abroad; I worry about the suffering civilians. But in addition to all of that, I’m still sickened on behalf of the environment. Already deep in red ink, our government won’t be able to finance environmental needs after spending billions on war. Think what that money could do if used to help all countries, including our own, to start cleaning the air and water and soil on which we all depend. Instead of killing people today, we could be investing in a livable future for our descendants.

If a fishing family, for example, knew the government would give them the difference between their normal income and their reduced income when catches are severely limited in order to allow fish stocks to renew; wouldn’t they be happy to help ensure their industry’s future? Similar aid could be given to assist loggers, farmers and others whose work needs to be temporarily reduced or altered, toward a more assured future.

How many changes could we afford to make toward improving power sources for cars, homes, businesses, if we had some of those billions to put into training and research, instead of into killing? How many essential waterways – to say nothing of the oceans – could be cleaned up if we had such lavish funding to pay for the work? We could even afford to do the deep-ocean study recommended by some scientists, that suggests a way to deal with nuclear waste so it would no longer be a terrible expense and a terrible worry.

This is Ruth Page, wishing we could spend more to support life on earth, not war and death.

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