By Joe White
Have you heard this one? “AYWW is too late!”
Here’s what I hear frequently, “AYWW is too late! The relentlessly growing conditions of natural resource scarcity and runaway global pollution and, most recently, the collapse of the bees will only increase the likelihood of future violence and war.” Indeed, such conditions of scarcity do appear to increase the likelihood of violence and war. No disagreement there.
In his provocative book, Environment, Scarcity and Violence, Prof. Thomas F. Homer-Dixon, (Princeton University Press.) writes, “Although a careful analysis of past and current cases reveals the most likely connections between environmental scarcity and violence, some of these connections may not be widely observable until well into the21st century. On the basis of the preliminary research reported in this book, however, I believe that in coming decades the world will probably see a steady increase in the incidence of violent conflict that is caused, at least in part, by environmental scarcity. Developing countries are likely to be affected sooner and more severally than developed countries. They tend to be much more dependent on environmental goods and services for their economic well-being; they often do not have the financial, material, and human capital resources to buffer themselves from the effects of environmental scarcities; and their economic and political institutions tend to be fragile and riven with discord. It is probable, therefore, that poor countries will be less able to apprehend, prevent, or adapt to environmental problems. During coming decades, environmental scarcity could plausibly produce five general types of violent conflict affecting these countries. Moving from the most local to the most global type are:
1. Disputes arising directly from local environmental degradation caused, for instance, by factory emissions, logging, or dam construction.
2. Ethnic clashes arising from population migration and deepened social cleavage due to environmental scarcity.
3. Civil strife (including insurgency, banditry and coups d’etat) caused by environmental scarcity that affects economic productivity and, in turn, people’s livelihoods, the behavior of elite groups, and the ability of states to meet these changing demands.
4. Scarcity-induced interstate war over, for example, water.
5. North-South conflicts (i.e. conflicts between the developed anhttp://search.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf/?cote=DEV/DOC(2011)14&docLanguage=End developing worlds.) over mitigation of, adaptation to, and compensation for global environmental problems like global warming, ozone depletion, threats to biodiversity, and decreases in fishstocks.”
Prof. Homer-Dixon’s analysis is very instructive, a welcome harbinger. However, AYWW is deeply committed to a countervailing global force that is presently and successfully at work to mitigate many of these scarcities. This countervailing global force is the United Nations’ Millennial Development Goals –MDG’s (http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/). Most people are unfamiliar with this decades long UN program which includes reducing extreme poverty and hunger by 50%, universal primary education, gender equality, infant mortality, environmental sustainability all by 2015. There appears to be one significant thing frustrating the achievement of the eight United Nations’ Millennial Development Goals by 2015. That one thing is money. Just money! According to a 2012 study, if $120 billion were added to the UN MDG budget, all eight goals could be achieved by 2015. (http://search.oecd.org/officialdocuments/displaydocumentpdf/?cote=DEV/DOC(2011)14&docLanguage=En) A $120 billion is roughly 7% of the annual global military expenditures, which are estimated to be at nearly $1.7 trillion a year.
Human beings are indeed globally, collectively wealthy but we choose to fight, to spend our gold pouring blood. Remember war is not a natural disaster. It is deliberately chosen. Nonetheless, there is fortunately a very diverse, dedicated global group continuing to push ahead with the MDG’s. Skeptics beware, the first MDG to reduce extreme poverty by 50% by 2015 was achieved by 2010. Great news but can such good news compete for media headlines with a suicide bomber devastating a soft target?
Bottom line, my dear skeptics, AYWW is not too late. At the moment, AYWW is perfect. An entire year without war may just give human beings a deep, lingering desire to put war behind us as we have been doing with slavery, dueling, witch burnings etc. WE, everyone of us and everyone of our friends and their friends, simply need to JOIN, RECRUIT and EDUCATE. Also, WE need to get August 27 recognized globally as a day of celebration in remembrance of our grandparents outlawing war in 1928. Sign the AYWW United Nations’ petition at www.ayww.org/petition JOIN, RECRUIT and EDUCATE for 2020 A Year Without War.