Age of Consequences

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Age of Consequences showing January 25 at 7:00

The mission of Sustainable Woodstock is to inspire, organize and empower community members to integrate environmentally, economically and socially responsible practices in all aspects of their lives to create a sustainable community. As part of our mission we educate the community about sustainability issues, and we try to offer different points of view.

This month Sustainable Woodstock will join the Sierra Club and Pentangle Arts Council bring to the new documentary “Age of Consequences” to our community. The film, directed by Jared P. Scott, looks at climate change through the lens of the US military. “Through unflinching case-study analysis, distinguished admirals, generals and military veterans take us beyond the headlines of the conflict in Syria, the social unrest of the Arab Spring, the rise of radicalized groups like ISIS, border walls, and the European refugee crisis – and lay bare how climate change interacts with other socio-political factors to exacerbate societal tensions and spark conflict.”- PF Pictures. Check out the trailer here, https://vimeo.com/189104269

In the film, Michael Breen, a former Army officer, talks about the role of climate change in human conflicts. “Think about relationships we don’t often look at,” he says. “The civil war in Syria, now going on for years, hundreds of thousands dead — the entire region is in chaos as a result.” The movie explores how a three-year drought helped bring about that war.

The connection between environmental disaster and terrorism is also detailed. Climate change affects the amount of water, and so terrorist organizations, like the Islamic State, move to where the water is. The retired Brig. Gen. Stephen Cheney states, “You control the water, you control the livelihood of the people.”

With numerous interviewees detailing the potential catastrophes that could cripple the United States; there doesn’t seem to be a bright side, but the film offers some hope. Our military cares about climate change and has been taking it seriously for over two decades. The film references the Department of Defense Directive on Climate Change and Resilience, which makes it clear that our Department of Defense is not messing with the politics of climate change. From sea level rise impacting bases to extreme weather events increasing humanitarian disasters to the multiplication of conflict around the world, our military has no choice but to take climate change seriously.

In December Trump introduced his first National Security Strategy, in which he broke from the Obama administration when he didn’t list climate change as a chief threat. The only tangential mention was “The United States will remain a global leader in reducing traditional pollution, as well as greenhouse gases, while expanding our economy,” it states, clarifying that those gains won’t be due to “onerous regulation.” While it looks like a reversal of an Obama-era priority, it’s important to remember that climate change was also viewed as a national security threat by the George W Bush Administration.

More importantly, the 2,400-page National Defense Authorization Act, a bipartisan compromise struck by the House and Senate was signed into law in December and contains recognition of climate change as a direct threat to national security, so it is now an official position of the Administration. Changing climate endangers 128 military bases with sea rise and global destabilization that could fuel terror groups, according to the NDAA. These numbers make the US military an unlikely and untraditional partner in the climate change conversation.

The film offers an interesting perspective on the challenges and impacts of climate change. The military is looking at underlying conditions that cause conflicts and considering what we can do to make ourselves more resilient. What they are doing at a global scale, we can connect to local actions.

Join us for a free screening of the film at the Woodstock Town Hall Theater Thursday, January 25 at 7:00pm. For more information contact Zach@sustainablewoodstock.org or call 457-2911.

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