Earth Meanders

Dr. Glen Barry, 4/14/2004

By Dr. Glen Barry
April 8, 2004

America - land of plenty as well as the free and brave - is pursuing military solutions to environmental scarcity. The American lifestyle depends upon tremendous resource inputs from the rest of the world. Accessing these resources; i.e. oil, timber and minerals, while marketing the American lifestyle, products and morals - including cars, Coca-Cola and Britney Spears - is a major cause of global conflict. America's war on terror has become a masquerade that seeks to maintain a level of affluence at the point of a gun that the Earth cannot sustainably provide, and does little to identify and address the most serious underlying threats to global security.

For example, four percent of the world's population cannot consume twenty-five percent of its oil without conflict. Some one billion humans live with chronic hunger, while being bombarded with American marketing/propaganda that highlights the good life to be found in democratic consumption. Billions more eke out a meager living in landscapes scarred by industrial capitalism and terrorized by American corporate client governments. ...

The American lifestyle is not currently sustainable - nor can it ever be universalized to the global population. Institutionalized over-consumption has caused looming ecological crises of mammoth proportions - including collapse of terrestrial ecosystems, water scarcity, climate change, and ocean dead zones - that threaten the existence of key human habitats and thus the very ecological foundation of being.

American style liberal democracy - one of the greatest political philosophies of all time, particularly in terms of individual and minority rights - has been nearly totally usurped by conservative fascism, an unholy alliance of government, business interests and Christian fanatics. Islamic and Christian fanaticism are two sides of the same coin - forcing ones spirituality upon others, and seeking power to do so. ...America's military adventures may keep the oil spigot flowing a bit longer, but at the cost of 1) continued global economic inequities which breed terrorism and 2) further pushing the Earth's environment past its capacity to support humanity well. ...

* Immediate military withdrawal by the United States from Iraq, the Middle East and elsewhere. * Major investments in energy conservation and renewable alternatives; including doubling energy taxes and new car energy efficiency requirements. * Renewed vigorous support for international legal institutions and tribunals to punish criminal acts of terror, genocide and military adventurism. * Launch major international initiatives to support community based sustainable development, and to slow and then reduce human population growth through non-coercive means. * Eliminate corporate subsidies and gradually reduce military expenditures, channeling these resources towards conserving, protecting and renewing the land, air, water and oceans.

At a personal level, in addition for advocating for the above, there are a number of things each American can do to build a plentiful, just, equitable and sustainable future. Americans must be challenged to develop a personal notion of enoughness. Such voluntary simplicity distinguishes between consumption for consumption's sake and human needs and reasonable wants, focusing upon quality rather than quantity.


Earth Meanders is a series of personal essays that places questions of environmental sustainability within the context of other contemporary issues, and can be found at the Eco-Portal at Dr. Glen Barry

To subscribe, send an email to: or visit: