Gar Smith launches speaking tour exposing militarism and environmental harm

Just World Admin Antiwar, Blog, Environment

Just World Educational's Exposing Militarism and Environmental Harm speaking series is off to a great start! The kick-off event on Oct. 7th in Berkeley, CA featured Gar Smith, the editor of the new anthology The War and Environment Reader, Haley Pedersen of CODEPINK, and Paul Cox of Veterans for Peace at the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists. Book contributor and documentary photojournalist James Lerager made a surprise cameo to share his researches on nuclear fallout.

The contributors read short excerpts from the book and shared their personal experiences and current campaigns. It was an evening of often moving and painful reflections and inspiring efforts to collaboratively struggle for justice and accountability against the war industry machine.
The day prior, on Oct. 6th Gar and James Lerager were interviewed on the KPFA radio program Terra Verde with host Maureen Nandini Mitra. Smith and Lerager tackled both the present day crises and their historical antecedents.

Mitra was perfectly-suited to interview Smith and Lerager -- she is the current editor of Earth Island Journal, which Smith previously edited.

In the course of the discussion, Smith notes that war's negative impact on the environment is not just the result of incidental collateral damage but "frequently the environment is targeted because it sustains humanity."

James Lerager elaborated on the staggering cost of developing nuclear weapons (assessed at 5.8 trillion dollars as of 1996 according to the Brookings Institution's Atomic Audit). Globally, it is estimated that at least 6 million have died from the effects of nuclear fallout.

James talked about the tragic plight of Nevada's so-called 'down-winders' - victims of nuclear testing. The down-winders were Native Americans and Mormons unfortunate enough to be living in a region that the federal government dedicated to nuclear testing. The American Southwest was declared a 'national sacrifice' area, although paradoxically, the government assured the public that its nuclear tests were perfectly safe.

Returning to the present day, Gar pointed out the irony of U.S. military adventures: "the reason we fight wars for oil is so that we can fight wars for oil." More globally, Lerager observed that humanity is "creating millions and millions of environmental refugees."

The interview is wide-ranging and fascinating! Give it a listen here or using the player below.
The tour continued last Wednesday, with Gar Smith appearing in Larkspur at Diesel Bookstore. The location in the North Bay had a special salience as deadly fires worsened by conditions created by global warming devastate Northern California. Unfortunately, book contributor Jerry Mander was forced to cancel his participation at the last minute. We hope to include Mander in a future event.

In the video below from Larkspur, Smith reads short excerpts from his book and answers questions from the audience. The engaging discussion covers everything from the nearby fires to the role of electoral politics and how the public can engage in finding solutions to these pressing problems.

You can see more photos from the speaking tour on our Facebook album.

Smith has a number of additional exciting Bay Area events ahead, including a talk in Santa Cruz on November 29 hosted by the Resource Center for Nonviolence, and another on Dec. 12 in Lafayette hosted by the Mt. Diablo Peace and Justice Center. For full details, take a look at the tour calendar!