Making the connection between resources and what’s being done to get them
Residents of greater Chattanooga have been through a trying, tragic, dismaying and sad time as we cope with the events of July 16. Five unsuspecting military men showed up for work on that day and never went home.
One other, a policeman, is mending from a serious leg wound. The troubled shooter is also dead. Many others will continue to deal with unseen traumatic mental injuries.
We, at a distance, suffered a shock to our confidence in normal life. We sift information over and over in our minds as we ask “why?”, trying to make sense of actions resulting from the deranged thinking of the shooter. We soothe our suffering by placing flags, balloons, flowers and notes at the two attacked sites, attend church vigils, pray, and line streets with hands on hearts during funeral processions.
Many populated a black ribbon formation for an aerial photo demonstrating we remain a strong community. Blood donations increased. Financial donations for the families of the fallen are ongoing. We see #NoogaStrong signs on billboards and on businesses all around town.
In this “Shades of Green” column, environmental information is the goal. Why then talk about this shooting that has so grasped our communal psyche? How could there be an environmental connection?
The connection lies in the causes for war. This shooter, in a manipulated mental state, thought his murder of U.S. soldiers would help bring victory in a Middle East war. His was a senseless and wrong conclusion—especially if he thought the war was about religion.
Why are there wars anyway? Surprisingly, most wars have an underlying environmental reason. One wit has said the reasons for war are “God, gold and ground.” That sounds about right, except that using God as a reason to kill people is an excuse.
Despite the claims of radicals, all religions of the world advocate loving one another. Al Qaeda, ISIL, and their ilk are only using “God” as a cover. They want power and control over ground (resources) that supports their gold (economy) and lifestyle.
Looking behind reasons stated by politicians for wars, the thirst for resources rises to the top. Would the U.S. be present in the Middle East if it were not for our demand for oil and access to the ground from which it comes?
Many wars have been fought over control of seaports allowing access to agricultural exports or imports. Those of a certain age will remember the old Western movies in which sheep ranchers fought cattlemen for access to water or open pastureland.
Our ever-growing global population likely means increased demand for water, food and materials derived from natural materials. As resources become scarcer, there are likely to be more conflicts associated with gaining access.
Further, available land is diminishing as we destroy forests, mine for fossil and nuclear fuels, and infuse both water and land with waste and toxics. Exacerbated by climate change and population growth, the very ecosystems that sustain all life are threatened.
Here in the southeast, Alabama, Georgia and Florida have been fighting for many years over access to fresh water. Chattanoogans will remember our resistance to Georgia’s desire to move our state border north, giving Georgia access to Tennessee River water.
The Appalachian River Basin region is more biodiverse than most other places. For example, we have more fish species than all of Europe. Can we protect it? Can we expect more wars? Will the gains of wars for resources outweigh the costs incurred?
If we wish to avoid wars, these challenges require a mindset to reduce our needs and share more—just for starters.
Sandra Kurtz is an environmental community activist and is presently working through the Urban Century Institute. Visit her website at enviroedu.net