Letter to the Editor: On “Living the Green Life in Greenpoint / Williamsburg” (WG Nov 2010, Issue 24)
First, thank you for the very informative articles on ways that the Williamsburg / Greenpoint community can “go green.” I think it’s important, especially for those with the means, to move towards a sustainable lifestyle and to conserve as much as possible. I was surprised, however, that all of the articles in the series presented consumer-based solutions to environmental degradation, a strategy that I think is flawed and ultimately will not bring about the type of change that we both desire and desperately need.
The largest polluter in the United States is not the consumer, it’s the Pentagon. There are only 45 countries (entire countries!) that create more pollution than the United States war machine. The Pentagon is exempt from all climate change treaties, even ones that the United States is a signatory to (the Kyoto protocol, most glaringly). Beside the massive waste of transporting troops and equipment around the world to oppress local populations, the very weapons (depleted uranium shells) the Army uses causes lasting environmental damage on top of murdering civilians—cancer and birth defect rates in Fallujah, Iraq, have risen markedly since the US-led war and occupation began.
Further, as a recent New York Times article showed, the Army is moving towards green technologies so that they need not worry about fuel supply lines, which have increasingly come under attack in Afghanistan. I think that’s an excellent example of the messed-up priorities of capitalism: green technology for murder and occupation, and not for our communities. None of the “going green” solutions presented in the series would have prevented British Petroleum (BP) from destroying the Gulf of Mexico this spring/summer (and refusing to adequately clean it). Nor could these strategies have stopped the toxic sludge spill in Hungary, also earlier this year.
The fact is that corporations and governments are the largest polluters. Any strategy for changing our world and our climate must acknowledge and bike-riding, while admirable and desirable, will not and cannot address the root cause of planetary degradation: capitalism, corporations, and the relentless drive for profits over all other considerations.
The type of activism that we need is not personal choices, but the type of activism that calls people out into the streets and places demands on the real polluters: corporations and their lackeys in government. The most important choice you can make to help our environment is to join an anti-capitalist or anti-war group dedicated to building a mass movement to stop the biggest and worst polluters from destroying our planet.
Alexander Super, Socialist Worker
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