"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

-- The Dalai Lama

Sunday, November 06, 2005

War and the Environment

Today is the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. Such an important topic, and one that doesn't get nearly enough attention - at least until years after the "war or armed conflict" is over.

I was enrolled in a class called "War and the Environment" for one of my last semesters at undergrad. It was cancelled the first day of the term and I had to scramble around looking for another class that would satisfy my major requirement.

It turns out the teacher who was supposed to teach the class was being let go. This teacher was a favorite of many students and since we were living in the Ward Churchill era there were rumors flying about conspiracies. The most widely spread rumor (And who knows? Maybe it was true.) was the teacher was let go because she had done research on some large corporations' (read: major university benefactors) environmentally unsound business practices a little too well.

There were protests of course, but since there were just so many things to protest at the school at that time they were sort of lost in the crowd, I think. They did show up outside of my department's graduation ceremony with the prerequisite electrical tape covering their mouths and quarter page flyers demanding justice. I'm not sure what they thought the graduating parents were going to do with this information. Still - more power to 'em.

Anyway, had I actually taken the class I would probaby have a lot more specific things to say about the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. It's pretty obvious that the environment gets lost in the shuffle of the policies behind armed conflict - both those presented to the public and those that aren't. And since "the enemy" is usually so far away the environmental impacts of war are easy to overlook.

1 comment:

Murky Thoughts said...

War & Environment rules of thumb:

Burning oil wells = bad
Searing sea mammal ears with sonar = bad
Setting rivers aflame = traditional vice