GORT, Climate Change, Abolishing War

October 15, 2009

It’s strange but true that most things are not all good or all bad. We humans can take lemons and make lemon meringue pie.  Here’s the story that goes with the picture below.  In the classic film “The Day the

GORT and Klatu

GORT and Klatu

Earth Stood Still,” Michael Rene played a spaceman who comes to earth, accompanied by a robot he calls GORT.  

     We learn as we watch that GORT has enormous, ominous powers. The spaceman’s task is to deliver the message that the other inhabited worlds that are space voyagers have conquered war (if they ever had it), and they do not tolerate the existence of any planet capable of spaceflight that will not renounce war.

     And the stunner at the film’s end is when the space messenger explains that he will leave, but he will leave GORT behind – that GORT is a kind of galactic policeman, and if the earth does not end the practice of war, GORT will eliminate the planet. Given what the spaceman has already demonstrated that GORT can do, the threat is frighteningly believable.  It’s a powerful message.

     If a viewer is a positive thinker, he or she leaves the theater feeling that at long, long last, humanity will grow up and end war. The point here, however, is that it takes this threat from without to make us behave, to make us pull together.

    On good days, when I’m looking for any possible positive spin on Climate Change, I’m praying that the onrushing environmental disasters we face may serve as our GORT and force us to pull together.  North, East, South, and West. Because we will pull together or civilization as we’ve known it could very well collapse.  The last Polar BearCollapse has happened to other societies who doubtless thought they would last forever, and sometimes for the same reason although on a smaller scale…their activities eventually altered their resource base so extensively that they perished.

    Many organizations are working to avert the collapse of our global social order as we face the oncoming tragedies which, regrettably, it is already too late for us to avoid. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore works tirelessly to enlighten and spread the word. There is the Clinton Climate Change Project, and 350.org, and others. Just Google “climate change.” In fact, here we are today, on International Blog Action Day (www.blogactionday.org) highlighting this enormous challenge.

     The raison d’être of A Future Without War (www.afww.org) is to explain, using the perspective of evolutionary biology, why we make war and what will be required of us once we commit to abolishing it. Such a massive paradigm shift, arguably as huge as the Agricultural Revolution, will require what can perhaps best be described as massively distributed collaboration by millions of people and organizations. Even if everyone were to agree that the cause of ending war is worthy, long overdue, and the only sane way for us to proceed into the future, how can we possibly unite so many?

AFWW Logo - 9 Cornerstones

AFWW Logo - 9 Cornerstones

     This is the greatest challenge for AFWW: to convince masses of us that abolishing war is possible, that it’s worth the effort it will take, and then unite us into concerted and focused action.  

     So is there any possible reason to hope that anything could convince millions to unite to end war?  The resources we spend on wars of all sizes—on research for new weapons, on designing and manufacturing weapons, on purchasing weapons, on the waging of wars and the incredible expense of clean up afterward—all of it is frankly grotesque.  As a means of resolving conflicts, war is ineffective and obsolete. 

     It is also dangerously counterproductive to cultural survival. We urgently need those resources, financial and intellectual, focused laser-like on efforts to fend off already visible and ever worsening effects of climate change. Ending war is good business (for all but munitions manufacturers and the war industry). It’s great humanity. Using the resources we now waste on war to fight the worse effects of climate change may in fact make ending war essential to the survival of quality of life for others than just the elite few who will, when all around us collapses, retreat to luxury, defended enclaves.

     So….A Future Without War is hoping that perhaps Global Climate Change may be our GORT.

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