We know there are many reasons people of conscience adopt sustainable practices. But to consider Earth care from the (somewhat alien-seeming) perspective of national security is to recognize an additional value: its life-affirming practices can contribute profoundly to peace on Earth.
To consider just that, a group of Triangle and North Carolina organizations and faith communities are co-sponsoring an online forum, The Pentagon, Climate Change and War, on January 17, 12:00-1:30 PM featuring Prof. Neta C. Crawford, the Montague Burton Professor of International Relations at the University of Oxford in the U.K. The forum will focus on the Pentagon, the world’s largest single greenhouse gas emitter. Tracing the U.S. military’s growing consumption of energy, Prof. Crawford calls for a re-conceptualization of foreign policy and military doctrine. Only such a rethinking, she argues, will break the link between national security and fossil fuels.
Prof. Crawford is the author of The Pentagon, Climate Change and War, Argument and Change in World Politics (winner of the best book award from the American Political Science Association), and Accountability for Killing: Moral Responsibility for Collateral Damage in America’s Post -9/11 Wars. She also co-directs the Costs of War Project of the Watson Institute at Brown University.
In her book The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War (published in October, 2022 by the MIT Press), Prof. Crawford details how the Pentagon became the world’s largest single greenhouse gas emitter and why it’s not too late to break the link between national security and fossil fuel consumption. She documents how the military has for years (unlike many politicians) acknowledged that climate change is real, creating conditions so extreme that some military officials fear future climate wars. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Defense—military forces and DOD agencies—is the largest single energy consumer in the United States and the world’s largest institutional greenhouse gas emitter. In this eye-opening book, Neta Crawford traces the U.S. military’s growing consumption of energy and calls for a reconceptualization of foreign policy and military doctrine. Only such a rethinking, she argues, will break the link between national security and fossil fuels.
The Pentagon, Climate Change, and War shows how the U.S. economy and military together have created a deep and long-term cycle of economic growth, fossil fuel use, and dependency. This cycle has shaped U.S. military doctrine and, over the past fifty years, has driven the mission to protect access to Persian Gulf oil. Crawford shows that even as the U.S. military acknowledged and adapted to human-caused climate change, it resisted reporting its own greenhouse gas emissions.
Examining the idea of climate change as a “threat multiplier” in national security, she argues that the United States faces more risk from climate change than from lost access to Persian Gulf oil—or from most military conflicts. The most effective way to cut military emissions, Crawford suggests provocatively, is to rethink U.S. grand strategy, which would enable the United States to reduce the size and operations of the military.
Note: This Zoom event will not be recorded so please join us on 1/17/23!
This forum is co-sponsored by Highland UMC Micah 6:8 Team, North Carolina Peace Action, Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle, Campaign Nonviolence, and Veterans for Peace
Lynn Lyle is a founding member and president of Interfaith Creation Care of the Triangle.