Since the early ’90s, there has been a flood of books in the West about ‘how to save the Earth’ – and the premise rests on individual actions. Recycle. Drive less or drive smarter. Change the light bulbs to a more efficient kind. Buy paper made from recycled products. etc. etc.
Is that enough? Many of us then – and now – argued that, though individual action is important – both for its additive effects and for its organizational impacts (more on that later) – it is insufficient. It needs to be coupled – if not dominated by – institutional reform.
So – this latest bit of information comes as no surprise. Sadly so.
No matter what we’re led to believe, the world’s worst polluter is not your cousin who refuses to recycle or that co-worker who drives a gas guzzler or the guy down the block who simply will not try CFL bulbs. “The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest polluter in the world, producing more hazardous waste than the five largest U.S. chemical companies combined,” explains Lucinda Marshall , founder of the Feminist Peace Network. Pesticides, defoliants like Agent Orange, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium are among the many deadly substances used by the military.