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Michael Klare, Saying Goodbye to Planet Earth?

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The signs are everywhere.  If you happen to live in the United States, parts of the Southwest and West are broiling in a megadrought the likes of which hasn’t been experienced in at least 1,200 years; water is increasingly scarce; and fires are flaring months early and in a staggering fashion, with acres burned already significantly above the normal yearly average. Consider it nothing short of historic in the grimmest imaginable sense. If you live on the East coast, on the other hand, it’s just possible that your house may float away as some are already beginning to do on North Carolina’s Outer Banks; while, in case you hadn’t noticed, losses of global wetlands are indeed significantly on the rise across the planet.

Should you happen to live in Iraq, however, it’s probably the repeated disastrous dust storms that are on your mind. After all, there used to be only a couple a year. Now, there are 20 or so annually.  In India and Pakistan, on the other hand, unprecedented spring temperatures, rising repeatedly to 120 degrees Fahrenheit in both countries (and the electricity shortages accompanying them) undoubtedly caught your attention.  Meanwhile, in Russian Siberia, the permafrost is thawing more rapidly, releasing greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere at an ever increasing rate. In Australia, on the other hand, marine heat waves have caused widespread mass bleachings of coral reefs, with the fourth of them in the last seven years taking place this spring. In South Africa, it’s extreme rainfall and the resulting record spring flooding, now twice as likely to occur as in the past, that’s devastating.

Okay, I’ll stop there for now. Sadly, all of this (and so much more) is just the beginning on a planet that’s overheating all too quickly. Worse yet, as TomDispatch regular Michael Klare, author of All Hell Breaking Loose: The Pentagon’s Perspective on Climate Change, makes clear today, the war in Ukraine is the last thing on Earth (so to speak) that we need right now. For reasons he explains vividly, it seems to ensure the worst when it comes to climate change on a planet where humanity is already at war with nature and it’s starting to strike back in a big way. Tom

The Ukraine War’s Collateral Damage

The Health of an Overheating World Is at Stake

The war in Ukraine has already caused massive death and destruction, with more undoubtedly to come as the fighting intensifies in the country’s east and south. Many thousands of soldiers and civilians have already been killed or wounded, some 13 million Ukrainians have been forced from their homes, and an estimated one-third of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed. Worse yet, that war’s brutal consequences have in no way been limited to Ukraine and Russia: hunger and food insecurity are increasing across Africa, Asia, and the Middle East as grain deliveries from two of the world’s leading wheat producers have been severed. People are also suffering globally from another harsh consequence of that war: soaring fuel prices. And yet even those manifestations of the war's “collateral damage” don't come close to encompassing what could be the greatest casualty of all: planet Earth itself.

Any major war will, of course, inflict immense harm on the environment and Ukraine's no exception. Although far from over, the fighting there has already resulted in widespread habitat and farmland destruction, while attacks on fuel-storage facilities (crucial targets for both sides) and the wartime consumption of fossil fuels have already released colossal amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. But however detrimental they may be, those should be thought of as relatively minor injuries when compared to the long-term catastrophic damage sure to be caused by the collapse of global efforts to slow the pace of global warming.

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Robert Lipsyte, Abortion — Not for Women Only

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It’s easy to forget just how long we’ve been waiting for Samuel Alito’s “opinion,” signaling that Roe v. Wade is going down the tubes. Back in 2019, I already took it for granted that the Supreme Court would indeed put an end to Roe and wrote then that, as I did, I couldn’t help but think “of my own involvement with abortion as a man.” My wife and I had indeed decided to abort a fetus because of a medical anomaly, even though we both wanted a child then. That was 10 years after Roe v. Wade became the law of the land. Now, I feel nothing but horror and sadness for couples like us who will indeed face such crises in an increasingly Trumpian America.

And honestly, I also remember the years of my youth before Roe became the law of the land in 1973. In fact, there was a moment then when, filled with horror, I ventured into the back-alley world of illegal abortions to help someone I cared deeply about who was, I thought, pregnant.  We were lucky.  She proved not to be, but I’ve never forgotten the fear (and, strangely enough, the fascination) of that abortion journey into what was then an everyday American underworld and undoubtedly will be again.  More than a half-century has passed since then and I still haven’t forgotten that moment, which makes me truly sad for all the young people today who are going to face a similar hell on Earth thanks to Donald Trump, Samuel Alito, and crew.

They have no hesitation, I know, about sending the rest of us into the flames of hell.  Looking back, the failed coup at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, may not have been the worst of Donald Trump. His seizure (with the help of Mitch McConnell) of the Supreme Court will, I fear, leave that riot in the dustbin of history when it comes to changing this country.

And they have a nerve.  Truly they do.  Which is why, today, I turn this site over to Robert Lipsyte, former New York Times columnist, TomDispatch regular, and author most recently of SportsWorld: An American Dreamland. Let him remind us all of what it was like, not just for women but for men, too, in the pre-Roe years and why it’s up to us not to let this stand. Tom

Where Are the Men?

No More Bystander Boys in the Post-Roe Era

For 50 years now, people have told desperate, heart-breaking stories about what it was like to search for an abortion in the days before Roe v. Wade. These were invariably narratives of women in crisis. They sometimes involved brief discussions about economic inequality, police-state intrigue, and unwanted children, but for the most part men were invisible in them, missing in action. Where were they? And where are they now that a wall of fundamental rights seems to be crumbling away not just for women, but for all of us? This is another example of what I used to call the Bystander Boys.

As a sportswriter, my work over these decades often brought me into a universe of male entitlement and the sort of posturing I thought of as faux masculinity. Even in that chest-beating environment, I was struck by the absence in abortion stories of what in another time would have been called manliness. What happened to that mostly storybook ideal of the brave, modest, responsible, big-hearted protector? I figured out early on not to waste time searching for him among football quarterbacks or baseball coaches, or even cops and Army officers. Much, much later, I found more people with the right stuff -- that "manly" ideal -- among single mothers and feminist lawyers.

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Nan Levinson, “I’ve Seen What Bombs Do”

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As we think about the nightmarish war in Ukraine, let me just offer you a few figures: almost a million dead, nearly 400,000 of them civilians; at least 38 million people turned into war refugees or internally displaced; and perhaps $8 trillion in money squandered on that hell on Earth. Oh wait, sorry, that’s what happens when you get old and things start to blur in your mind. Yes, the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine is indeed a horror of slaughtered civilians, mind-boggling numbers of refugees and internally displaced Ukrainians, and untold amounts of money already squandered on death and destruction. The figures I just gave you, however, come from the invaluable Costs of War Project’s calculations about what used to be called this country’s “Global War on Terror,” which includes the invasions, occupations of, and disastrous conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As we face a Congress that can’t agree to spend any reasonable sums on needy Americans but is racing to raise staggering billions of dollars to arm the Ukrainians (no questions asked), it’s worth remembering that, in this century, when it came to invasions and horrifying wars, our leaders were functionally Vladimir Putins. Now, thanks to him, we’ve suddenly become the “good guys” again, a phenomenon in which Washington is, of course, reveling.  If only, as the other major invader nation of this century, we had learned that making peace is so much better than making war and were putting at least some of our efforts into brokering negotiations between the warring parties in Ukraine rather than further revving up the conflict and glorying in doing so.

As far as I’m concerned, TomDispatch regular Nan Levinson embodies the antiwar spirit on this planet.  She’s worked for years with American military personnel who, in an up-close-and-personal fashion, turned their backs on war. She even wrote a book about them, War Is Not a Game: The New Antiwar Soldiers and the Movement They Built. So, as the conflict in Ukraine only intensifies, as the Russians, Americans, Europeans, and Ukrainians pour ever more into the battle there while the very possibility of peace seems to fade from view, let her explore the difficulties the antiwarriors of our world now face dealing with just such a situation. Tom

Ukraine

An Antiwar Dilemma

I've been watching this country at war for many years now and, after 9/11, began spending time with American veterans who came to disdain and actively oppose the very conflicts they were sent to fight. The paths they followed to get there and the courage it took to turn their backs on all they had once embraced intrigued and impressed me, so I wrote a book about them. While doing so, I was often struck by a strange reality in that era of American war-making: in a land where there was no longer a draft, most Americans were paying remarkably little attention to our ongoing wars thousands of miles away. I find it even stranger today -- and please note that this takes nothing away from the misery of the Ukrainian people or the ruthlessness of Vladimir Putin's invasion -- that the public seems vastly more engaged in a war its country is not officially fighting than in the ones we did fight so brutally and unsuccessfully over the past two decades.

Here, for instance, are just a few notes I took recently while listening to NPR: A woman calls one of its talk shows, feeling guilty about celebrating her daughter's birthday in style when Ukrainians are suffering so horribly. A panel on a different NPR show discusses why Americans feel so involved and its members consider all-too-uncomfortably the rationale that the Ukrainians "look like us." The show's host does note that they don't actually look like all of us, but no one suggests that decrying atrocities is easier when they're committed by another country, especially one we never much liked to begin with.

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