October 14, 2002
President George W. Bush
Office of the US President
The White House
Dear Mr. President:
I, Ma. Sheila G. Bautista, a 3rd year student of the University of the Philippines Manila (Manila, Philippines), is presently taking up Development Studies 127 under the course title-Natural and Physical Resources and Development. In connection with this, our professor-Sir Roland Simbulan asked us about our stand regarding United States of America’s war against terrorism, this time-vs. Iraq and the environmental impact if this war will push through.
I am deeply concerned about the implications of this would-be-war for it does not only involve human conflict (resulting to lost and wasted lives especially of the young and innocent civilians) but also environmental destruction in the forms of both collateral damage and deliberate destruction of environment.
I, for one believe that conceiving another war is too unbearable. It will but increase the civilian casualties and the incidence of environmental destruction through the release of chemical and biological warfare/weapon of past wars (among them are Vietnam war and Gulf war). We don’t want another mass destruction-cases of human deaths, collateral damage in the destruction of public infrastructures (bridges, hospitals, schools, factories), business establishments, buildings, grain sites, food storages, residential areas and villages, modern weapons, because of their toxicity create negative impacts through through their own composition as well as their destructive power. Flora and fauna are not spared from this; bombings also destroy the lower layers of soil which take thousands of years to regenerate. Gaseous pollutants from factories (manufacturing plastics, chemical production) annihilated by air raids cause air pollution, acid rain and leads to ozone layer depletion. In the case of defoliants, it destroys the entire vegetation (jeopardizing agricultural production) leading to drought and famine and also make the soil fertile. Most of these modern weapons are DU (depleted uranium) contaminated-these small particles uranium dust and aerosols can be transported through the environment and exposed people through. Imagine the detrimental effects it may bring to the health of people-external exposure could result from gamma radiation, the internal exposure result, on the other hand, from ingestion of radio nuclides that contaminated the environment either that they reach the plants through root uptake or from contaminated meat or other animal products through ingestion of contaminated forage. The aquatic system might be also contaminated through water run-off. The population could be exposed through the drinking of water or ingestion of fish and shellfish. The people further suffer from the radiation exposure since depleted uranium residue is responsible for the induction of cancer, leukemia, damages in thyroid glands and heredity effects that cause health problems to the offspring of exposed parents (large increase in stillbirths, children born with defects). We don’t want another “Gulf war Syndrome” to broke out (this malady is believed to be primary caused by DU residues). If this dreaded war will materialize, what will happen to our vision of sustainable development/ It will indirectly affect other countries economically (as we all know, most countries depends on the oil supply provided by those in the Middle East). What if the raid accidentally hits oil deposits? What will become of us? Tragic crisis follows…
For humanity’s sake, I appeal to you to abhor this violence-don’t let our world be completely befallen to chaos. For sure, war is not the last resort to resolve the conflict. Thank you for your time in reading my letter and I am hoping for a positive reconsideration.
Ma. Sheila Bautista
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in 2002