To President George W. Bush:
I am a Third Year BA Development Studies of the University of the Philippines – Manila. I am currently taking up Development Studies 127, a course that tackles issues on environment. The news on possible war between United States and Vietnam reached this part of the globe. I am not questioning the integrity of the decision-making body of your administration. However, I would still wish to extend to you my deepest concern on this controversy that may involve not only the two earlier mentioned countries, but also Philippines and the rest of the world. I nobly suggest that thy wisdom will not allow the war to take place. There are several reasons for this stand but I shall limit this to the possible adverse effect on the environment.
Not only during the war that the environment will endure exploitation, directly or indirectly. The preparation, as well as the aftermath, will contribute as much destruction. First, is the preparation. Military trainings require vast areas of land. Needless to say, the flora and fauna will consequently be sacrificed to accommodate the exercises. A place for chemical and biological warfare exercises too is in demand. These areas that manufacture weapons tend to be testing grounds for missiles, warfare products and nuclear weapons. Otherwise, they have to search for a location for this activity. And this does not stop here. Military toxic waste poses an enormous threat to the ecosystem. Ample amounts of pollution that are products of storage, experimentation of chemical, biological, nuclear and conventional weapons, as well as tons of obsolete weapons and ammunition, await further destruction. Then, during the war, greater havoc can be anticipated. Crops, fertile land, species of both plants and animals will be endangered especially now that technology is more advanced. Thus, modern weapons are expected to be more annihilating. The composition of these has a capacity to destroy the environment. Take for example the Gulf War. According to the 1993 Marine Pollution Bulletin, 6-8 million barrels of crude oil were spilled from sunken vessels and from oil transfer. Thus, 30,000 marine birds perished, 20% of mangroves were contaminated, 50% of coral reefs were affected, and hundreds of the square miles of sea grass were infected. Then the war aftermath. Depleted Uranium (DU) shells used by anti-tank cannons and land mines, for instance, have long-term effect on every matter that comes in contact with them. The countries involved in the event of war will have to face the dilemma of restoring their deteriorated resources. This, of course, is no overnight job. It will take years and continuous nurturing to revive its usefulness and beauty.
Obviously, war is the most destructive way to handle any dispute or disagreement. The world is suffering various forms of crises – political, social, economic and environmental. But we have to take all these problems altogether. The above mentioned are just the environmental effects on war. There are still others like the health of many civilians and soldiers. Included are the mental and psychological trauma that may take effect. The war will affect the relationships between countries and their constituents. It will cost a lot of resources, money and lives. I am undoubtedly sure that these have other more beneficial ways to be utilized besides ruining the future of many people and destroying the Almighty’s precious present to mankind – nature. Often, this is the least taken into consideration. But we have to face the fact that man and nature will have to work together for survival. The two must not be taken separately. Humankind is the vanguard of the environment and at the same time, it will provide us the necessities to extend our lives.
It will be better for all of us if we allow peace to reside instead. God bless!
Z’sa May B. Subejano
University of the Philippines-Manila
College of Arts and Sciences
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