Damage Plan | General News & Politics | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine
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Damage Plan 

Last Updated: 08/13/2013 3:56 pm

Page 5 of 6

On the positive side, I find it encouraging—especially after 1991, when nobody studied what was going on in Iraq—that after 2003 people are finally recognizing that some damage was done there as well. Not just to the political entity of Iraq, but more importantly to its people and to their lands. Independent of what political entity we live in, we still need to study what happened to the people and the land. However, I am still very sad it did not happen in 1991. Iraq was just seen as “the enemy,” never mind its people and its lands.

Better late than never.
I agree. On the other hand, if better late than never, then why only Iraq? Why not everywhere else? It’s a political issue. It’s done in Iraq because it concerns the US and the club of Western countries and interests. But if it were somewhere in Uganda, nobody would care. In Uganda we have fellow human beings and a fellow environment that are just as worthy of attention as any other place in the world. There is an injustice here, or an unequal justice, that really riles me.

In the section of the book subtitled “A Way Forward” you lay out the outline of such a blueprint and state that there needs to be measurement, detection, and assessment. Soil should be looked at first, then water and, last, air. Species and their habitats should be examined. You state that rapid assessment of a region, ecological scaling, and bio-monitoring are relatively cheap ways of amassing a continuous stream of ground level data—a baseline—that would help to shed light on the effects of war should one come along, and that this assessment should occur before a war. Is that feasible? The world is large. How can one determine where a war will break out?
What I propose—Is it feasible? Does it make scientific sense?—ultimately will have to be evaluated by the readers in the field. That some sort of assessment is needed before corrections can be made or restorative action is taken obviously sounds very logical and sensible to me. But this idea will have to go through peer review in the larger community. Even now we have all kinds of satellites circling the Earth taking constant land-monitoring pictures for agricultural purposes, a constant evaluation is going on regarding weather patterns and storm patterns that is often beamed right down to the farmer sitting in his tractor in a field somewhere in Alabama. A lot of these tools, equipment, instrumentation, and techniques are already available and I don’t see why the conservation, scientific, and environmental communities cannot avail themselves of these tools to collect baseline pre-war data, which then in the case of war can be used for pre- and post-war studies. We would then know what was there before the war, assess what was done during the war, and based on the information, come up with restitution and recovery plans if damage did occur.

You talk about incentives in a global world. Why do they matter?
Incentives matter because they help direct attention to areas that so far are either not studied or understudied, they help to direct financial resources in particular, and human resources. I believe that part of the reason why the Persian Gulf War has been studied so well is because there was a fear that the smoke plume would rise into the jet stream and via the jet stream be distributed all over the world and affect people everywhere, including people in Canada, the US, and Western Europe. If I am sitting in the US and know I am going to be affected, then I have an incentive to lobby my congressional representatives to put forward the money to study what the effect really is. Only when people feel that they are personally affected do they work to make the resources available to study what is going on and maybe to prevent the next war. Incentives are incredibly important to ensure that the resources, both financial and in terms of scientific talent, are forthcoming.

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