The last subject that we will explore is war. This
is a controversial subject because every nation
promotes a unique version of history designed to frame
their beneficence. I will do my best to offer you, dear
reader, thorough research on views which contrast with
established historical beliefs.
According to Dr. Will Tuttle, the entire origins of western culture were rooted in the control and domination of animals. Historical documents such as the Old Testament and the epic of Gilgamesh document the transition from nomadic tribes to herding cultures. As humans became more attached to the control of animals, the relationship changed from one of honouring and worshipping life - to one of seeing animals as possessions and a form of currency. This culture became more powerful through domination of other humans and eventually came to conquer all nearby cultures in Europe and the Mediterranean. (link)
This greed for wealth caused an evolution toward the domination of land and eventually to domination of elements consumed by humans (termed ‘resources’). The resource wars eventually came to encompass not just elements used for sustenance but to precious metals and finally to fuel sources.
Nearly everyone in the world clearly understands that the recent wars between the United States and Iraq were fought in order to protect the oil supply (if you don’t see the connection, then this source from the White House itself should provide credible evidence).
What is less well known is that for over a century, the most destructive wars that we’ve ever seen have been tied to oil. At the turn of the 20th century, both Britain and Germany were converting their navy from coal to oil fuel. Both nations were vying for control of the Iraq oil fields as a rich source of fuel (sound familiar?). Britain through the Anglo-Persian oil company (now BP) and Germany through the Berlin-Baghdad railway. It was this competition and the alliances linked to the power struggle which helped set off the first ‘great war.’ (link) In the years leading to the second World War, Hitler spent vast resources supporting Germany’s artificial oil program since the country had no natural oil fields (Britain had put a halt to Germany’s railway). It was only with the assurance of a reliable fuel source that Hitler felt confident enough to launch the first Blitzkrieg.
Meanwhile Japan decided to attack Hawaii only after the U.S. imposed an embargo on it’s oil supply. After the attack, Japan immediately moved to control Vietnam and the Indonesian oil fields. (link) Unknown to most people, oil was also the cause for the only direct control of U.S. soil by Japan during the war. (link) After the war’s conclusion, the U.S. and Britain orchestrated an overthrow of the Iranian government in order to prevent Iran’s Prime Minister from reducing access to their oil supply. (link)
Then came Vietnam. Interestingly, there is information that Standard Oil found vast fields of petroleum off the Vietnamese coast, however the technology at the time required explosive charges to locate the fields (the same technology used by archaeologists today) which the government would not agree to. This caused the company to support a conflict. During the war, it was easy enough to use Navy ships to fire the charges. The research on this is admittedly less credible and so I encourage you to explore for yourself (research “White Horse Oil Field” “Operation Linebacker” and “Vietnam War”)
In 1984 the Iran/Iraq war expanded to include shipping of oil in the Persian Gulf. This threatened western supply lines and the U.S. got involved in an embarrassing political situation. (link)
In the modern age, less powerful countries all over the world have suffered huge political upheavals due to this almost ubiquitous addiction to fossil fuels. (link). U.S. forces fighting in Afghanistan have lost one person, killed or wounded, for every 24 fuel convoys it runs. During the U.S. war in Afghanistan, hundreds and hundreds of these convoys were needed to truck fuel – to run air-conditioners and power diesel generators – to remote bases all over Afghanistan. (link) Since the 1890s, the political leadership of the entire Middle East region has been dictated by Britain and later the United States because of these countries’ reliance on oil for heating, industry, and transportation. If you think, dear reader, that these oil conflicts are merely a product of American- European resource grabs then I welcome you to read on here. The whole region of southeast Asia has recently been in an uproar near the Senkaku and Huangyan island chains. The conflict of course was only sparked after the discovery of oil in the region.
There is no question that battles over the really essential resources are being fought throughout the world. (link) However they often fall under the radar because there aren’t expensive jet fighters and missiles involved. The huge disparities around both water and food distribution favour the countries with enough money and fuel to maintain military control. The enormous populations which are denied basic needs because of the resources given to animals inevitability causes even more world conflict.
From all of these sources, it’s my conclusion that a both a vegan lifestyle and a carfree one are essential for us to improve the health of the planet. The decision to boycott oil and the automobile has a larger effect on our health and quality of life in cities. People can choose (to some degree) whether they live near an animal slaughtering plant or not and so most people aren’t regularly exposed to the pollution and carnage caused by raising and slaughtering animals. However there are very few places in the western world where the spectre of highway pollution (toxic gases, smog, or noise) aren’t felt. The health of children, the level of stress in adults, and the ability of seniors to get around are all impacted by the dependence on high-speed gas powered transportation. Meanwhile the impact of an animal-based diet mainly affects the non- human beings that we share the earth with.
There’s two ways that you, dear reader, can respond to this essay. One is to say ‘Aw hell,
everything that I do is bad for the planet. I’m just gonna get drunk.’ But the other is
to realize that wherever you are at, there is always an opportunity to do more. Simply
deciding that you’re vegan and that’s enough or simply accepting that you’re car-free
and that’s enough, is to ignore the vast potential that we all have to enjoy a happier
relationship with the world. There are people who protest oil pipelines, or who grow all
their own food, or build houses out of recycled materials. Anything that you can do to
reduce your impact is great, and
...... you can always do more.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.