Climate Corner: How much is enough?

Nov 4, 2023

Aaron Dunbar

How many genocides? How many extinctions?

How many wars must we wage? How many lives must we destroy? How many lands must we make uninhabitable?

How many thousands of Palestinian children must be exterminated for the sake of America’s imperialist interests? Is it merely a coincidence that the occupied territories of Gaza and the West Bank sit atop nearly half a trillion dollars in oil and gas reserves? Is there no level of depravity to which the client state of Israel may sink before its American benefactors develop any semblance of a conscience?

How many babies need to be blown apart by rockets? How many civilians must be scorched to their bones by white phosphorus? How many more bombs will we supply to Israel to drop on hospitals and refugee camps?

From Israel to Ukraine, how many more proxy wars will we finance? How many more blank checks will we sign to brazen war criminals?

All this, we say, is for the sake of American interests. No amount of human and environmental destruction is too great for the most heavily militarized superpower in the history of the world. In his book “Endless Holocausts,” David Michael Smith estimates the American empire is responsible for nearly 300 million deaths throughout its history. Is that enough?

The U.S. is historically responsible for nearly 25% of the greenhouse gas emissions destroying our planet. The Department of Defense is the single largest institutional emitter of greenhouse gasses in the world. Billions of innocent lives not directly destroyed by the sociopaths at the Pentagon through illegal acts of war will instead be subject to the horrors of the climate crisis it’s creating.

And still it isn’t enough.

Every year the war machine needs more. More innocent blood. More money — trillions spent over decades — more than any other nation on the planet, more than 144 other nations combined.

Politicians and an indoctrinated public squabble and hand-wring over the cost of climate legislation, a woefully inadequate $369 billion in the Inflation Reduction Act that is nevertheless our largest ever investment in mitigating a world-ending existential threat. We spend twice this amount every year on slaughter and bloodshed, on escalating tensions with nuclear superpowers, on a mind-boggling 750 military bases in 80 countries poisoning the water around them, on $100 million fighter jets that somehow go missing, and on developing nuclear bombs 24 times more powerful than the one dropped on Hiroshima.

We endlessly finance these horrors without giving them a second thought. We hiss and we snarl at the homeless and at welfare recipients, we allow our infrastructure to crumble, and we sleepwalk into a climate apocalypse that could rob us of everything. Yet we bow at the feet of mass murderers as they bleed us dry, enriching weapons manufacturers and war profiteers, demons in designer suits who will never have to look into the eyes of the innocents they massacre.

When will it be enough?

How long must the needs of the many be sacrificed for the insatiable bloodlust and gluttony of the few?

This is simply how things work, we’re told — the way they must be in order for the system to function.

And if that is the case, I say, then maybe the system has never been functional. And maybe it’s near time for us to find another system.

Could it really be true that our creature comforts, our “American way of life” and our well-being, must necessitate these rivers of blood, these mass exterminations of human life, and the complete destabilization of Earth’s systems, upon which 8 billion of us depend? And if that is the case, what right have we to pursue such a way of life at the expense of all others?

We cannot keep doing this to ourselves.

How many of our loved ones need to be chewed up and spat out through the gears of the war machine? How long will we allow military recruiters into schools and shopping malls to prey on the vulnerable, turning our children into ruthless destroyers of life, and sending them home in pine boxes and body bags?

How many more children must feel fear when they look up at the sky? Fear of the American-made bombs raining down onto their heads, or fear of once-in-a-lifetime hurricanes tearing their little worlds to pieces?

How many nightmares must the world endure for the American dream to survive?

How long will we let this go on in our names?

How long can we turn a blind eye to the corporate fascism that consumes us, and to the military industrial complex as it scourges the earth?

As our world overheats, as we plunge into tribal hatred and the tyranny of the surveillance state, as our borders are militarized in order to prevent the arrival of the refugees we create, and as protestors and journalists are murdered with impunity, when will we finally step back and ask ourselves why?

What will we do when the carnage we’ve sown inevitably arrives right back at our doorstep?

When do we stand up and say enough is enough?


Aaron Dunbar is a member of Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action.