The Antropocene: An Armageddon?

Science, IT, Nature

In Part 10 of the series, Humans Are Still Young, Shanti discusses the size of global military spending and the concept of nations

The Earth seen from Apollo 17
The Earth seen from Apollo 17 (cr NASA

In a way, the nuclear fallout of the first atomic bomb is the right choice to mark the beginning of the Antropocene, because destruction on a worldwide scale is happening and likely to happen if we don’t change our direction, as we can witness these days* in Ukraine, in Israel and Palestine, in Syria, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Libya, Mali, Somalia and South Sudan.

But we can choose a different marker, heralding the change from homo vorax, the voracious homo we are, to the true homo sapiens worthy of that name we can be: a golden spike, anchored in the Earth, proving to future generations that humans have learned in time from their mistakes and took a path more beneficial, for themselves as well as for the planet. As said before: “There comes a time when the world must come together as one and we are the world.” This isn’t just a good beginning, but a necessity for a planet and its inhabitants confronted with the challenges which are manmade and need to be solved by the very same people.

But this is not going to work when a couple of us move forward towards a solution, while some others undo this, or make the situation even worse by moving backward. After all: all of us are living in the same boat or on board the same spaceship.

The Earth is one! I wonder if everyone got the same perspective, the same message from The Blue Marble, that famous photograph of the Earth, taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance of about 45.000 kilometers or 28.000 miles? It is one of the most iconic and among the most widely distributed images of the Earth in our human history. But do we understand its implications?

Do we understand the nonsense of nationalism, of you being an Englishman and me an Iranian or whatever? It’s high time to dis-identify ourselves from these fictions and slip out of them! All lovers of nations are traitors to humanity. Love for the nation means dividing the whole world into segments. The very meaning of patriotism is a betrayal towards those living elsewhere. These small, too small enclosures, these dikes have troubled humanity enough!

It’s time to widen the circles of our compassion, continue and complete the sequence of our care and commitment and make the next step in our journey one of love and solidarity, which has started in the family group and has expanded in the tribe, the chiefdom and the state. Now humankind is to be included and the planet we all inhabit as well. It’s time to say goodbye to concepts which are outdated, inefficient, very costly and extremely dangerous.

Since the rise of the state, about 5.500 years ago, military activity has occurred over much of the globe. The advent of gunpowder and the acceleration of technological advances has led to modern warfare. In Understanding International Law, page 212, the author, Conway W. Henderson, writes: “One source claims that 14.500 wars have taken place between 3.500 BCE and the late 20th century, costing 3,5 billion lives – almost half of the present world population – leaving only 300 years of peace.” In War Before Civilization, Lawrence H. Keeley, a professor at the University of Illinois, says that approximately 90–95% of known societies throughout history engaged in at least occasional warfare, and many fought constantly.

Previously, before the rise of the states, it was ‘okay’ if wars, fought with bows and arrows, went on happening; there was ‘not much’ harm. If ‘a few people’ died, there was ‘no problem’.

But now, war is total. Now, it is the suicide of all humanity. Now, every place can become a Hiroshima, any day, any moment. Consider the nuclear weapons in the hands of often power-mad people, the horror of their war. Think of how many human lives and how much suffering, energy and money is lost into it.

World military expenditure totalled a new all time high of $2240 billion, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute SIPRI, on April 24, 2023. (A billion equals one thousand million.)

SIPRI monitors developments in military expenditure worldwide and maintains the most comprehensive, consistent and extensive data source available on military expenditure.

Military expenditure refers to all government spending on current military forces and activities, including salaries and benefits, operational expenses, arms and equipment purchases, military construction, research and development, central administration, command and support. SIPRI therefore discourages the use of terms such as ‘arms spending’ when referring to military expenditure, as spending on armaments is usually less than half of the total.

Total global military expenditure increased by 3.7 per cent in real terms in 2022, to reach this new high of $2240 billion. Military expenditure in Europe saw its steepest year-on-year increase in at least 30 years. The three largest spenders in 2022, the United States, China and Russia, accounted for 56 per cent of the world total, according to new data on global military spending. World military spending grew for the eighth consecutive year in 2022 to this all-time high.

By far the sharpest rise in spending (+13 per cent) was seen in Europe and was largely accounted for by Russian and Ukrainian spending. However, military aid to Ukraine and concerns about a heightened threat from Russia strongly influenced many other states’ spending decisions, as did tensions in East Asia.

‘The continuous rise in global military expenditure in recent years is a sign that we are living in an increasingly insecure world,’ said Dr Nan Tian, Senior Researcher with SIPRI’s Military Expenditure and Arms Production Programme. ‘States are bolstering military strength in response to a deteriorating security environment, which they do not foresee improving in the near future.’

The United States remains by far the world’s biggest military spender. US military spending reached $877 billion in 2022, which was 39 per cent of total global military spending and three times more than the amount spent by China, the world’s second largest spender.

Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam
Neve Shalom ~ Wahat al-Salam (cr
All this money and energy gone to warring and violence and killing! It looks to me like such a perversion of our dignity as humans! I would like to quote the Israeli comedienne Noam Shuster-Eliassi here. She grew up in Neve Shalom Wahat Al Salam (“Oasis of Peace”), the only community where Jews and Palestinians live together by choice, and she said: ‘From the river to the sea, we all need therapy.’ And… there is such an easy way out of all this warring worldwide: All countries allow the United Nations, as ‘Keeper of the Armory of the World’, and the U.N. only, to defend them against any act of aggression, and the whole world can be a Oasis of Peace, a House of Peace, !בית השלום

* (Nov 2023)

To be continued…

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Shanti is the creator and compiler of this series, including At Home in the Universe and 1001 Tales.

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