Climate and Militarism Discussion Guide

April 29, 2020 - Download PDF Version

  1. What can we learn from the public health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic?

    1. How have the extractive and militarized economies exacerbated the effects of the COVID-19 crisis?

    2. What does the response to the crises reveal about how we might adequately address the climate crisis?

  2. Check out the Framework for a Just Transition. This framework was developed by the environmental justice and labor movements to help illustrate the process of transforming the unjust, extractive economy that exploits and harms people and the planet, to a just, regenerative economy with healthy, thriving communities and ecosystems.

    1. How does militarism fit into the extractive economy?

    2. A Just Transition requires stopping the bad and building the new. What does that mean as it relates to militarism?

    3. If you’ve worked with the Just Transition Framework in the past, how has militarism played into that? If it hasn’t, why not, and how might it?

  3. Recognizing the catastrophic impacts of a warming climate and the massive response that this crisis demands, climate change is sometimes understood as a “national security threat.” Rather than falling into a militarized worldview that invites a search for military “solutions,” we suggest that a “planetary emergency” might be a better way to characterize the crisis. Have you encountered climate change, or another major crisis, framed as analogous with war? How can we move our movements beyond analogs of war and militarization?

  4. Funneling trillions of dollars into the military to wage endless wars and project military dominance has prevented us from investing in true security and cooperation that actually meets human needs and keeps us safe. What would real security look like for our communities?

  5. Many discussions about the intersections of climate change and militarism focus predominantly on the military’s carbon footprint and advocate for “greening the military,” or finding ways to make the military more fuel efficient. What are the gaps in this line of thinking? How can we move beyond this limited framing of climate and militarism?

  6. Militarism is the coercive arm of the extractive economy. The fossil fuel industry relies on militarized state violence to uphold its operations around the globe. How does this play out domestically and abroad? Can you identify examples beyond those outlined in the primer? How are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color disproportionately targeted by this violence?

  7. “The armed lifeboat” refers to militarized responses to the climate crisis. Can you identify ways that the United States or other countries have already begun to implement an “armed lifeboat” approach to climate adaptation? What’s wrong with this approach?

  8. How are border militarization and climate change related? Why is immigration a climate issue and why is antimilitarism essential to upholding both?

  9. Proposals to meaningfully address the climate crisis at the rate and scale necessary are often characterized as unrealistic pipe dreams. The same scrutiny is seldom applied to ever-expanding military spending. How has the bloated military budget warped our sense of what’s possible and stifled climate action? What’s possible when we’re not bogged down by the “how will you pay for it?” trick question?

  10. Just like with the fossil fuel industry, we need a Just Transition for workers and communities whose livelihoods are tied to the military and the military industrial complex. What lessons from the Just Transition movement led by climate justice organizers can also be applied to planning a Just Transition for military workers?

  11. The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare the costs of nationalistic, go-it-alone approaches and of non-cooperation between nations. What lessons can we learn from the COVID-19 crisis for how we might approach the climate crisis? How does militarism threaten the necessary cooperation and solidarity we need to address our greatest global challenges?

  12. The climate justice movement is intersectional, as climate change impacts every aspect of society and intersects with every social issue. How has movement solidarity been present in your experience in or perceptions of the climate justice movement? How has it been lacking?

    1. Using anti-militarism as an example, what’s challenging about intersectional movement building? How does it make organizing more difficult?

    2. How can anti-militarism make the climate justice movement stronger? How might a climate-justice movement with anti-militarism at its core broaden the coalition and strengthen key arguments? What is there to be gained?

    3. What needs to be done to build movement solidarity between movements against militarism and the climate justice movement?

Download this discussion guide in PDF format here.