War and Sustainability

Date: Oct 2003

Professor John Cairns

"John Cairns, Jr., University Distinguished Professor of Environmental Biology Emeritus, Department of Biology, and Director Emeritus, University Center for Environmental and Hazardous Materials Studies, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His life is so full of great achievements in ecotoxicology, ecological restoration, eco-ethics, etc. He is the author of more than 1400 publications, and now he is developing the new projects aimed for the well-being of Planet Earth."


(First published in the “International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology”. Re-printed here by kind permission of editor Prof. John Jeffers and the Pantheon publishing Company.)

Summary

The purpose of war is to destroy, and, even with precision bombs and missiles, some collateral damage still occurs. Inevitably, natural capital and other types of capital are destroyed or impaired. In Vietnam, the foliage of forests was targeted. In the Gulf War, Iraq released crude oil into the Red Sea, which damaged marine life, and set Kuwaiti oil fields on fire, which produced both atmospheric and terrestrial damage. War co-opts natural resources (e.g. natural capital), destroys societal infrastructure, and interferes with a variety of natural cycles and ecosystem services. War is incompatible with sustainable use of the planet since modern technology, including nuclear capabilities, makes war an unsustainable practice. Instead of protecting resources as they become increasingly scarce, these wars (usually poorly masked as terrorist, religious, or cultural conflicts) use natural capital, such as oil, in an attempt to obtain more than would have been possible by peaceful means. The assumption that more will be obtained is weak since sabotage is often difficult to stop. Universal peace and sustainable use of the planet are both utopian visions, but failure to achieve them deprives posterity of a quality life, and even of life itself.

 "We must make clear to the Germans that the wrong for which their leaders are on trial is not that they lost the war, but that they started it. And we must not allow ourselves to be drawn into a trial of the causes of the war, for our position is that no grievances or policies will justify resort to aggressive war. It is utterly renounced and condemned as an instrument of policy."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel L. Jackson, America’s Senior Representative at the 1945 Nuremberg War Crimes Trials and the Tribunal’s Chief Prosecutor

The Tipping Point

A tipping point occurs when the forces that create stability are overcome by the forces that create instability, and the ship, vehicle, or system tips into disequilibrium. Indications (e.g. continued human population increase, species extinction, depletion of natural capital, ever increasing human artifacts that displace natural systems, pollution) are that both natural systems and humankind may reach a tipping point in the twenty-first century if present unsustainable practices continue. Cairns (2000) remarks that, in order to achieve sustainability, humankind must be at peace with natural systems (i.e. cease destroying them).

 A general principle of preserving natural systems is that maintenance is less environmentally costly than rebuilding or new growth. Cities destroyed by war (e.g. as in World War II) require more resources to rebuild than would have been used to maintain them. Similarly, a new growth forest requires more energy for building new biomass than an old growth forest requires in maintaining itself. Moreover, cultural development occurs primarily when basic needs (e.g. food, shelter, health care, warmth) have already been met. Even education suffers when people must use all their energies just to survive. Social capital (e.g. sense of community) requires time, which is less available when maintaining basic needs is a struggle. Cultural capital (e.g. museums, symphony orchestras, art galleries) can be badly damaged or destroyed by wars, either directly by explosives or indirectly by looters, when the social contract (e.g. respecting cultural organizations) has broken down. The Athenian statesman Pericles praised the law that, although unwritten, was obeyed. Today, obeying such laws is called a social contract. At present, the intent to live sustainably and leave a habitable planet for posterity is the ultimate social contract, which encompasses vast spatial dimensions (e.g. Earth) and vast temporal spans (e.g. indefinite use of the planet). Humankind must reject short-term economic growth based on unsustainable practices in favour of sustainable practices, which should produce a habitable planet for posterity and reduce risks.

Risks

If humankind is worried about risks of terrorism caused death, some comparative figures from the November/December 2002 issue of World Watch (p. 40) should be enlightening:  

    In the United States:  

Cause of Death Average killed (per year)
   
Cigarette smoking 430,700
Obesity 300,000
Alcohol abuse 110,000
Motor vehicle accidents 43,200
Terrorist attacks on WTC, 11th September 2001 2,000

 

430 700 killed by cigarette smoking, per year, on average

300 000 killed by obesity, per year, on average

110 000 killed by alcohol abuse per year

43 200 killed by motor vehicle accidents, per year, on average

2000 killed by terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001.  

In other countries:  

2 000 000 in Sudan: killed in the ongoing civil war

1 700 000 in Cambodia: killed by the Khmer Rouge massacre in 1975–78

1 700 000 in Congo: killed in the ongoing war

103 000 in Japan: killed by two atomic bombs dropped by US planes in 1945

20 000 in India: killed by the Bhopal chemical spill of 1985 and its aftermath.

The purpose of this information is to show that a better perspective on risks is needed. For example, in the United States, one is far more likely to be killed by cigarette smoking or obesity than by terrorists. If the primary goal is to protect human life, citizens of the United States should concentrate on cigarette smoking and obesity rather than terrorists. A person killed by cigarettes is just as dead as one killed by terrorists. The risks in many other countries are more severe; 2 million were killed in the ongoing civil war in Sudan and 103 000 by two atomic bombs dropped by the United States on Japan in 1945, a one time event. Yet the latter has received far more attention. Even the 20 000 deaths in India caused by the Bhopal chemical spill of 1985 and its aftermath received more attention than the civil war in Sudan.

The deaths of all humans killed before their normal life span ends are horrific, but our efforts to protect humans should bear some relationship to the actual damage and risks. Reducing these risks and the consequent strain on natural systems and society can be accomplished by changes in human behaviour, although they will be most effective if done by large numbers of people. Preventing human deaths by war and other activities should be a part of the social contract. War is most destructive when waged by nation-states, but guerrilla activity can be very destructive as well. One common deleterious effect is the production of refugees who cause significant ecological damage to the areas in which they seek refuge. Refugees can also strain the societal infrastructure of the area in which they take refuge, even taking it past its maximum long-term carrying capacity.

The Dangerous Concept of Zero Risk

In the early days of the environmental movement, especially after the first Earth Day about three decades ago, discussion flourished on the idea of reducing to zero the risk from potentially toxic chemical substances. The concept of zero risk was eventually discarded, although some politicians and world leaders still believe it a reasonable goal. Ironically, this concept was even touted as an achievable goal in space flight. For example, before the American spaceship Challenger exploded, officials estimated the probability of malfunction to as few as 1 in 100 000 flights. This estimation was, in fact, just a euphemism for the idea of zero risk, i.e. the risk is so small it is essentially zero. However, few activities in daily life are entirely without risk. The passengers on the three aircraft highjacked in the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings in New York or the Pentagon in Washington, DC, did not anticipate the actual risk to which they were exposed. Actual risk is also not anticipated by a person driving an automobile who has the misfortune to encounter another driver filled with ‘road rage’. Absolute security is as elusive as zero risk. The irrational quest for zero risk and absolute security are major obstacles to achieving sustainable use of the planet, which should be humankind’s primary goal.

Preventative War

The outmoded concepts of zero risk and absolute security are being used to justify preemptive military strikes to ‘prevent’ a serious threat (e.g. the war in Afghanistan to depose the Taliban and heighten the war on terrorism). The idea of preventative war replaces the concepts of containment and deterrence, which were the strategies used during the ‘Cold War’ and with Iraq following the Gulf War. The doctrine of preventative war was used by both Germany and Japan in World War II, but not by the nationstates that were attacked. Unilateral action (i.e. preventative war) and, to a lesser extent, measures associated with the war on terrorism represent a rejection of multilateralism, which is essential to the quest for sustainable use of the planet. Furthermore, the uncertainties involved in unilateral action will almost certainly result in larger expenditures for military purposes and more environmental damage, including societal infrastructure, when force is actually used. Reaction to this new orientation (from multilateral to unilateral) will induce countervailing trends in the international system, which became evident in the actions of the United Nations when the twenty-first century war in Iraq was proposed.

 Sustainable use of the planet requires the normative legitimacy of a planet ordered by law. Therefore, policy must be altered, even in powerful nation-states, in order to establish the international order required to achieve sustainability. Some disturbing indications are that the American preemptive war strategy is emphasizing the role of nuclear weapons as battlefield tools rather than as the ultimate taboo weapons (Physicians for Social Responsibility [PSR], 2003). This possibility is especially troubling in the case of dual crises, such as North Korea and Iraq, even when preemptive strikes are theoretical exercises. Even moderate protective efforts, by any nation, against a preemptive strike would divert resources from efforts to achieve sustainability. The threat of a preemptive strike does not reduce proliferation of nuclear weapons. For example, when so threatened, North Korea withdrew from its Agreed Framework (abandoning nuclear weapons development in exchange for civilian nuclear power generation) [PSR, 2003]. Sustainability requires mutual trust at the global level and is hampered, even wrecked, by mutual suspicion. Consequently, the case for preventative war is weak.

The British philosopher Thomas Hobbes loved peace so much that he was willing to accept absolute monarchy as an alternative to civil war. In an era of globalization, a strong United Nations may be the only alternative to the eventual use of weapons of mass destruction, which would end, possibly forever, the possibility of achieving sustainable use of the planet. Hobbes believed that all humans had reason, which could be employed to reduce the possibility of violent death. Peace will not guarantee that humankind will achieve sustainable use of the planet; but, without it, the probability of doing so is problematic.

 Environmentally Benign Wars

Environmentally benign war is, of course, a hopeless goal. However, environmental harm can be limited, just as the military attempt to minimize civilian casualties and damage to the infrastructure (e.g. water supply, sewage treatment, power plants, hospitals, and other civil services) of the nation-state under attack. The United Nations is processing more than US$70 billion in claims for environmental damage in the invasion of Kuwait (the Gulf War). The less damage to environmental and other resources, the lower the cost will be for recreating Iraq. In the Gulf War, nearly a quarter of the Kuwaiti desert was encrusted with oil, which also contaminated aquifers that had produced as much as 40% of the water supply. Unexploded ordnance abounds. The churning of tank treads and truck tyres has accelerated erosion so that sand dunes are edging toward Kuwait City. Environmental damage by oil and oil fires is summarized in Youngquist (1997), which contains useful references on this topic.

 Distresss and Eustress

Distress is an emotion that can overwhelm and prevent effective functioning. Distress warns of danger and impels the actions of fight or flight. In today’s world, fight might merely be a letter to a local newspaper or peaceful picketing. Instead of running away from a rabid pit bulldog, which directly addresses a problem, ‘flight’ may manifest itself as limited denial, meditation, music, and the like. However, ‘flight’ can also mean suicide bombing, road rage, or actual war. Eustress (the prefix ‘eu’ from the Greek word meaning ‘good’) is the emotion that motivates and gives a sense of accomplishment when goals have been achieved.

 The wars of the twenty-first century have not produced the elation that followed the end of World War II. No heads of nation-states surrendered and acknowledged defeat. In fact, victory was not announced as it was at the end of World War II. Instead, words such as ‘cessation of hostilities’ were used, even though significant portions of the populations of Afghanistan and Iraq have remained hostile and many indigenous combatants have merely discarded their uniforms and hidden their weapons, almost certainly with the intention of using them at the first opportunity. Diplomatic relationships of long standing have been replaced with suspicion and lack of trust. The United Nations has, temporarily, ceased to function as intended. Most of humankind is still feeling distress, and the end of this emotion is not in sight – hardly an appropriate condition for embarking on a cooperative program to globalize sustainability, which requires implementation of euthenics (i.e. science concerned with bettering the condition of human beings through improvement of their environment).

 The quest for sustainable use of the planet will be stressful because the shift from unsustainable to sustainable practices will require major, initially unpleasant, changes in both individual and societal behaviour. War itself is an unsustainable practice if humankind intends to leave a habitable planet for posterity. Humankind is already pushing the limits of environmental carrying capacity in food, water, fossil fuels, toxic chemical substances, radioactive wastes with a long half-life, and rate of climate change. For example, world production of petroleum will soon begin to decline (e.g. Deffeyes, 2001; Duncan, 2001).

 The activities of humankind have placed nitrogen, potassium, and phosphates into the environment at a rate greater than that of natural systems. These chemicals degrade all types of water ecosystems, e.g. there is a ‘dead zone’ in the Gulf of Mexico and brown slime in the Adriatic. The consequences of these activities are uncertain but, at present, they cannot be stopped because without commercial fertilizers billions of humans would die (e.g. Smil, 1991). The era of rising irrigation has ended (Postel, 1999), and even water rich areas of the United States have had to begin importing water by truck for growing populations (Grant, 2003).

Such environmental crises could lead to resource wars if the human population continues to grow. However, if the human population was stabilized at present levels, or reduced, the funds that are being used to reduce these crises temporarily could be used to develop long-term sustainable practices. This more desirable state requires reexamination of war and growth, both demographic and economic, and the ethical relationships within human society and with the 30+ million other species with which humans share the planet.

 A Future without Humans

On May 18, 2003, the television channel Discovery aired the program ‘Future is Wild’. Scientists envisioned a future world in which humans are extinct and bizarre creatures inhabit the world. Many people would dismiss a world without humans as science fiction or fantasy. ‘Future is Wild’ illustrated climatic and geological changes that, if even partially accurate, will drive most extant species, probably including Homo sapiens, to extinction over the next 10 to 100 million years. If sustainable use of the planet truly means working toward human use of the planet indefinitely, humankind needs to demonstrate the capability of living sustainably under the present comparatively benign conditions. If this goal is not possible, sustainability is a denial of reality and a more suitable word to describe human activities should be selected.

 One obvious beginning point of working toward sustainability is with energy (defined as the capacity to do work). Heniberg (2003) argues that global oil output will peak in 3–12 years. If an aggressive shift toward new energy sources, such as wind, solar, or fuel cells in the mix, is not achieved in the 3–12 year time period, there will be severe, even grim, consequences, such as economic collapse, resource wars, famine, disease, and despotism. If humankind reduces energy consumption, the transition period can be lengthened, but the basic problem must be addressed. Heniberg (2003) stresses that a high growth rate in oil thirsty nation-states, such as China or India, increases the probability of calamity by increasing competition among nations for oil. Such a situation also increases the need for a decisive shift to alternatives. An era of dwindling oil energy supplies, resource wars, economic collapse, and fragmentation of globalization is shocking.

The global human population is expected to double in 50 years, and the population of the largest energy consumer, the United States, is expected to double in 70 years. All societal activities require energy, so a combination of conservation plus development of sustainable energy sources is essential. The societal consequences of lower energy availability could be devastating – food shortages, reduced and more expensive transportation, and less heating, cooling, and lighting. Energy efficiency should help on a short-term basis, but improving efficiency yields ever diminishing returns (i.e. vigorous and perpetual growth). Efficiency will not prevent long-term shortages. Unless alternative sustainable energy sources are developed, future resource wars are quite likely, which will further reduce energy available for civilian use.

The wars of the twentieth century occurred during a period of expanding resource extraction, and, thus, more resources were available for civilian use than will probably be true for the twenty-first century, which will be an era of declining resource availability and extraction. Replacing unsustainable practices with sustainable practices, if carried out with sufficient rapidity, should reduce the number and intensity of resource wars, but is unlikely to eliminate them. Dramatic energy conservation, giving high priority to developing alternative sustainable energy sources, population stabilization, and protection of natural capital and ecosystem services, will lessen the impact of downturns due to resource depletion. A planet with fewer people might make sustainability possible and improve the quality of life if resources are not diverted to war.

 Sustainability and Security

The ultimate security problem is sustainable use of the planet. Without ecological and technological life-support systems and the services they provide, human society as presently known is doomed, even possibly threatened with extinction. The beginning of the twenty-first century has provided persuasive evidence that neither war nor terrorism brings security, but diminishes both ecological and societal stability and integrity.

 Chief security officers (CSOs) and senior security executives are concerned that the United States could be on its way to becoming a police state (according to a poll released May 12, 2003, by CSO magazine [www.cio.com]). Thirty-six percent of the American public does not believe that changing Hussein’s regime in Iraq will ultimately improve American national security, and 40% of CSOs do not believe the terror threat information provided by the U. S. Department of Homeland Security is timely and accurate (information provided by P. Ehrlich, personal communication, May 18, 2003). Only 3% believe another major physical attack on American soil by a terrorist organization or nation-state will ever happen.

 The United States fought five major wars during the twentieth century: World Wars I and II, the Korean and Vietnam wars, and the 1991 Persian Gulf War. Four of these five wars gave the political party in the American White House victories and rejoicing when armistice peace was declared. However, situations deteriorated in the 1–5 years following these because of unwise peace terms, post-war stresses, broken promises, diplomatic disappointments, and war-related scandals (Phillips, 2003). Much uncertainty still exists in the world, despite the cost of these wars in money and lives. A popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result.

War and the Stock Market

The American stock market is commonly disturbed by uncertainty, and unsettled political conditions nationally and internationally have not inspired renewed investor confidence. Various fears, such as terrorism and SARS, have complicated the relatively simple process of attendance at major public events, decreased travel to once popular destinations, and even introduced fear into boarding an airplane. The increased resistance to power (e.g. North  Korea) may cause further uncertainty about the future and, thus, produce a decline in the stock market or even a recession.

This situation offers a superb opportunity for a new global alliance, which would not be favorable to multi-national corporations or free trade. The effect on the stock markets of the world could be devastating, enough to cause global economic stagnation. Uncertainty would be heightened while new regional economic systems develop, which undoubtedly lead to new trade preferences and increased competition for the remaining resources in resource-poor areas. Worse yet, the vision of sustainable use of the planet may well be replaced by increased nationalism, even tribalism. The vision of sustainability based on universal peace and a new relationship with natural systems would fade.

Any centrism based on a nation-state is unsustainable, especially with the emergence of a global Internet, but some alternatives to the nation-state, such as Bilderberg (1), are a cause for concern. Tucker and Bollyn (2003) reported that, until last year’s meeting in the Washington, DC, suburb of Chantilly, Virginia, Bilderberg had a tradition of congeniality. Tucker and Bollyn (2003) assert that Bilderberg remains united on the common goal of establishing a world government under the United Nations while retaining control of the planet’s wealth and all inhabitants. Tucker and Bollyn (2003) find that the remarkable concentration of wealth and power in Bilderberg is completely dissociated from its guesses of how globalization benefits 6.2 billion people. As the global population approaches or reaches 10 billion and fewer resources are available per capita, this disparity in wealth and power will become an even greater issue. As Durant and Durant (1968) caution, history shows that concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable and is periodically alleviated by violent or political partial redistribution.

 Violence is increasingly the preferred solution to wealth concentration, but war damages both natural and human capital, limiting the global resources per capita. Sustainable use of the planet, including decreasing the disparity in ecological footprint size, appears to be the most promising alternative in achieving a fair and equitable distribution of resources, including the share needed to keep and increase the store of natural capital and the maintenance of ecosystem services.

War and Economics

Wars appear to stimulate a nation-state’s economy, but even the winner suffers a longterm ecological deficit. War, which damages both technological and ecological resources and uses additional resources in the process, is incompatible with steady-state economics. Daly (2003) remarks that the preanalytic vision from which steady-state economics emerges is that the economy, in its physical dimensions, is as an open subsystem of a finite, non-growing and materially closed total system – the Earth ecosystem or biosphere. The biosphere takes matter and energy from the environment in low-entropy form (raw materials) and returns it to the environment in high-entropy form (wastes). A closed system is one whose only energy flows through. A steady-state economy is one whose throughput (whatever enters a system as input and leaves as output) remains constant at a level that neither depletes the environment beyond its regenerative capacity nor pollutes it beyond its absorptive (i.e. assimilative) capacity (Daly, 2003). War requires man-made services and sacrifices natural capital services, and it ignores ecosystem service efficiency, which, together with the natural capital, comprises the planet’s ecological life-support system. Damage to the ecological life-support system is irrational, yet, at present, all too much of humankind’s resources (including natural resources) are devoted to war and the preparation for war (often termed defense), and comparatively trivial amounts are devoted to replacement of unsustainable practices with sustainable practices.

 The most probable cause of this curious position is humankind’s obsession with growth. On a finite planet with finite resources, continued growth induces scarcity. Then, scarcity leads to resource wars, mass migration, political instability and, arguably most importantly, competition for increasingly scarce resources (e.g. oil). Equitable and fair sharing of resources, including those needed to maintain the planet’s ecological lifesupport system, will require both sharing and population control. Humankind is rapidly approaching the time when it will be attempting to manage the entire planet for sustainability.

 Half the world’s human population is living marginally or worse, and yet Renner (2003a) reports that military expenditures are on the rise. In 2001, a conservative estimate of world military expenditures was US$839 billion, of which the United States spends 36% and those states considered hostile to the United States spend 3% (Renner, 2003a). Even so, expenditures for the military are expected to continue rising (Stevenson and Bumiller, 2002; Dao, 2002). Even 25% of these funds would provide a much needed programme to develop alternative energy sources, which would also diminish the perceived need for resource wars.

 Renner and Sheehan (2003) state that approximately 25% of the 50 wars and armed conflicts of recent years were triggered or exacerbated by resource exploitation. Hussein persisted as a political leader by using resource money (in this case, oil) to maintain power by a variety of methods, including murder. The use of resource funds to maintain power is all too common (e.g. Le Billon, 2001). Ending such misuse of power and the resultant conflicts has proven impossible because it is difficult to displace the power elite (e.g. United Nations Security Council, 2002).

The Ultimate Security

The recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were justified on the grounds of reducing terrorism and eliminating weapons of mass destruction. However, in the first half of the twenty-first century, humankind will probably find it essential to choose between war and a transition from unsustainable to sustainable practices. The pivotal issue is how to provide the 2 billion or more people who are living marginally with an opportunity to improve their quality of life without destroying the planet’s ecological lifesupport system. Wars (particularly in Third World countries) exacerbate poverty, economic collapse, and damage to public health systems.

On the positive side, the number of armed conflicts declined slightly in 2002 because the number of conflicts ending surpassed those newly erupting. Additionally, there were 17 armed conflicts not sufficiently severe to qualify as war (Renner, 2003b). It seems likely that many wars and conflicts over resources are attributed to other causes, such as terrorism, ethnicity, weapons of mass destruction, and the like. As the population and material affluence increase per capita but resources do not, resource wars, however labeled, are likely to increase.

 Security as a Defining Moment

The quest for sustainability will be one of humankind’s defining moments, comparable to the agricultural and industrial revolutions. A defining moment is one that shapes our lives, even though, initially, it often appears to be insignificant. Both individuals and human society can have defining moments.

The agricultural revolution began with a few plants and domesticated animals. Seemingly unimportant when it began, it shaped human society for generations and continues to do so. The same is true for the industrial revolution. The modest world stage appearance of sustainable development (United Nations World Commission on Environmental Development, 1987) initially made only a few ripples on the ‘global pond’. My copy of the report, a thoughtful gift from a colleague, sat on my desk for over a week before I got around to reading it. Even when I read it, I did not recognize the enormous impact it would have on my life. Eventually, years later, I realized that reading that report had been a defining moment for both my professional and personal life. I realized that, on a finite planet, exponential growth of population and use of resources was unsustainable, even though some economists (e.g. Simon, 1981) asserted that humans are not limited by resources as are other species. Simon’s book was a defining moment in the quest for sustainability because, if resources are not limiting, sustainable use had already been achieved. Daly (1985) has pointed out the fallacies in Simon’s reasoning, but the controversy remains. Whenever one side prevails, it will be a defining moment.

 Undoubtedly, there will be many defining moments on the path to sustainable use of the planet. Arguably, the most important is to accept that war and sustainability are incompatible, not only because of resource waste but because sustainable use of the planet requires the strong support of nearly all persons. A small number of non-violent dissidents can probably be tolerated, but terrorist destruction of resources cannot. If the planet is at full carrying capacity, this would mean falling below subsistence levels for some people. If not, then the quality of life would still be impaired. War disrupts the beneficial flow of matter through a closed system essential to sustainability. War is a false goal because, on a finite planet that is approaching or is already at carrying capacity, it wastes resources. Individuals cannot control defining moments, such as being born. Humankind cannot yet control earthquakes, hurricanes, and other episodic events, but it can make a significant difference about engaging in war, especially preemptive war.

 Another positive defining event on the path to sustainability will be the recognition that the ‘free lunch’ at the expense of natural systems is over. Sustainable use of the planet requires stewardship of natural capital and ecosystem services, not exploitation. Positive, defining moments are those that result in long-term benefits. Negative, defining moments are those that result in long-term problems. War is definitely in this latter category.

Conclusions

War is an unsustainable practice on a finite planet with finite resources. Natural capital is diminishing at an unprecedented rate at a time when it is most needed. This reduction means the loss or reduction of the ecosystem services that natural capital provides. Arguably, loss of or damage to the planet’s ecological life-support system is the greatest security threat of all time to humans. To provide a habitable planet for future generations, the ecological life-support system must be cherished and its health and integrity preserved. War is an unsustainable practice, which, if continued, will deplete natural capital to the point that famine, disease, and other factors will have an even greater effect on humankind. Sustainable practices defend humankind from these scourges to the degree that the human species stays within the planet’s carrying capacity.

1. Depending on the ideological perspective, Bilderberg may be viewed as a club of an ultra-VIP lobby of the power elite of Europe and America capable of steering international policy from behind closed doors, or a harmless discussion group of politicians, academics, and business tycoons, or a capitalist secret society operating entirely through self interest and plotting world domination (Escobar, 2003)

Professor John Cairns, Jr  

 

Acknowledgements

I am indebted to Karen Cairns for putting the handwritten draft on the word processor and for doing so for changes in subsequent drafts. Darla Donald provided skilled editorial services. Correspondence with Professor J. N. R. Jeffers stimulated the production of this manuscript.

References

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