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Veteran Urges Other Veterans to Fight for the Climate

Climate
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.


Through the group Veterans for Peace, Powell has spoken out against conflicts, sought justice for civilian victims, and mentored veterans with PTSD.

Now he's turned his attention to yet another cost of war: the climate.

"War plays a big role in climate change," he says. "All the wars that are fought over fossil fuels, for instance. Wars that are fought on smaller levels over hardwood forests in South and Central America. The carbon footprint of the U.S. military itself, which is very, very large."

Powell recently drafted a resolution that urges all Veterans for Peace chapters to take climate action and help educate students and others about the issue.

"I was brought up during World War II," he says. "I was nine years old when it started, and I saw the mobilization that went on … where we completely switched over our manufacturing facilities from making refrigerators and automobiles to making tanks and planes and so forth."

He says it will take a similar level of commitment to defeat global warming.

And he hopes veterans across the country can help win this fight.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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Retired Lt. Cmdr. Oliver Leighton Barrett is with the Center for Climate and Security. He says that in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, crime and poor economic conditions have long led to instability.

"And when you combine that with protracted drought," he says, "it's just a stressor that makes everything worse."

Barrett says that with crops failing, many people have fled their homes.

"These folks are leaving not because they're opportunists," he says, "but because they are in survival mode. You have people that are legitimate refugees."

So Barrett supports allocating foreign aid to programs that help people in drought-ridden areas adapt to climate change.

"There are nonprofits that are operating in those countries that have great ideas in terms of teaching farmers to use the land better, to harvest water better, to use different variety of crops that are more resilient to drought conditions," he says. "Those are the kinds of programs I think are needed."

So he says the best way to reduce the number of climate change migrants is to help people thrive in their home countries.

Reporting credit: Deborah Jian Lee / ChavoBart Digital Media.

Reposted with permission from Yale Climate Connections.

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