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Sunday, December 10, 2006


It's not just war that's an environmental disaster

As we are reminded in today's news, it's not just war, but the preparation for it, and even the preparation for a phony "war" - the "war on terror," that's an environmental disaster.

Story 1:

Fifty years ago, cancer rates on the [Navajo] reservation were so low that a medical journal published an article titled "Cancer immunity in the Navajo."

Back then, the contamination of the Navajo homeland was just beginning. Mining companies were digging into one of the world's richest uranium deposits, in a reservation spanning parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

From 1944 to 1986, 3.9 million tons of uranium ore were chiseled and blasted from the mountains and plains. The mines provided uranium for the Manhattan Project, the top-secret effort to develop an atomic bomb, and for the weapons stockpile built up during the arms race with the Soviet Union.

Today, there is no talk of cancer immunity in the Navajos.

The cancer death rate on the reservation -- historically much lower than that of the general U.S. population -- doubled from the early 1970s to the late 1990s, according to Indian Health Service data. The overall U.S. cancer death rate declined over the same period.
Story 2:
Great Lakes target practice gets mayors in an uproar

In the name of defending the United States against terrorists, the Coast Guard proposes live-fire zones in all five Great Lakes, where gunners could perfect their skills on M-240B machine guns to be mounted on Lakes vessels. The weapons can fire hundreds of 7.62mm rounds a minute and send lead 2.3 miles downrange.

More than a dozen environmental groups have asked for changes in the project and a deeper study of the effect on the ecosystem of hundreds of thousands of lead bullets.

The lakes [are] home to 21 percent of the fresh water on the Earth's surface.
Bumper sticker wisdom has it that "War is not healthy for children and other living things." Mere preparation for war can be nearly as bad, and that's not even counting all the people who have died and suffered because of the misplaced spending priorities that war and preparation for it engender.

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