Bertell, Rosalie. Planet Earth: The latest weapon of war Black Rose Books, Canada, 2001. The Women’s Press, London, UK, 2000.

Rosalie Bertell book review by Theresa Wolfwood.

Rosalie Bertell. Photo © Theresa Wolfwood.

“…in spite of fears of abuse, Earth is still an amazing and beautiful creation…It deserves our best efforts. Enjoy it, love it and save it!” RB

Rosalie Bertell believes, as have many ecologists before her, that the current focus on economics is at the expense of ecology and the social environment. In Planet Earth, this internationally-respected scientist states that the most urgent problem facing humanity now is how to sustain Earth, our life-support system. To do this, we must find a new model of global living which is not based on military force in support of a hard, unbending capitalism. This book is a vital contribution to the search for new solutions and means to create change. She sees signs of hope in new social movements springing up around the world.

She begins with a detailed and devastating analysis of the wars of the last ten years of the 20th century. In Part II she provides an acute scientific basis for the madness of war and the destruction that science, harnessed to the military, is planning for us and our world. She discusses so-called natural disasters that are linked to human-caused climate change, the “down-to-earth problems with Start Wars,” and the environmental crises spawned by war-making, including pollution caused by depleted uranium and chlorine-based herbicides. She examines the economic fallacy of the military providing jobs and prosperity. There is detail and fact here enough to convince any concerned citizen, particularly those who see saving the environment as a separate struggle, that the work of peace, economic justice and ecology are one.

In the chapter, Rethinking Security, Bertell brings it all together. She says that “global consumption of resources is exceeding Earth’s restorative capacity by at least 33 per cent. War and the preparation for war drastically reduce the store of these resources still further, leading to a self-perpetuating cycle on which competition for raw materials leads to further conflict.”

In order to redress this crisis, she says, we must tackle the question of security. We need to challenge the belief of many that military force is a ‘necessary evil’. This new concept embraces a vision of social justice, human rights and the health of the environment. Security will be achieved through the protection and responsible stewardship of the Earth.

Bertell calls this ‘ecological security,’ based on a complex multi-faceted approach to the world’s problems. Realizing this vision is a big job and required multi-faceted solutions.

Bertell has many insights and ideas on how to create such solutions. She cites the need to alter the core belief of military security. Change always follows a challenge to core belief. Consider the examples of civil rights, women’s rights, gay rights and the new challenges in the work of children’s rights, child soldiers and animal rights.

This book is full of examples and ideas. It is a book to hold on to, for repeated reference to information and inspiration. In her own words:

“It is my hope that this book will open up for the reader an historical matrix against which to view the present and future… I also hope it will spur the reader to become involved in peaceful enterprises. We must set up a co-operative relationship with the Earth, not one of dominance.”

Filed under Book Reviews, Rosalie Bertell